Learn about the best technology to overcome auditory processing disorders and how text to speech apps enhance auditory processing skills.
Best technology to overcome auditory processing disorders
Children can suffer from various forms of attention or auditory deficits. While some conditions, like auditory processing disorder, or APD, are rarer than others, they can take a significant toll on students, parents, and teachers.
Auditory processing disorders make it difficult to study at the same pace as everyone else and can lead to low self-esteem, depression, and other more severe issues. Fortunately, particular technologies deal with APD and help kids adapt, and even overcome it.
The issue is understanding what APD means and does and which technology is best for specific manifestations of the condition. Here, we’re taking a closer look at how to get the auditory processing disorder help you, your student, or your child may need.
What is APD?
ADP, or auditory processing disorder, is a lesser-known condition that affects hearing in 3 to 5% of school children. Also referred to as central auditory processing disorder, or CAPD, APD causes a specific coordination problem between the brain and ears.
For someone with APD, their brain can’t naturally recognize or interpret complex sounds, thereby making it difficult to understand speech. Although auditory processing disorder doesn’t prevent sensing sounds or indicate hearing problems, it does interfere with the ability to distinguish the difference in sounds when put into words, regardless of volume.
The effects of ADP are most prevalent when school-aged children encounter background noise or listen to speech in classrooms, playgrounds, at parties, etc.
Causes and common symptoms of auditory processing disorder
Approximately more than half of people who have experienced a serious head injury have APD due to damage to the central auditory nervous system. However, many other factors can cause APD, including ear infections, neurological issues, Lyme disease, and even genetic factors.
Many people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) also have auditory processing disorder. However, APD is not present in all people with ASD or ADHD, and people can have APD without either ASD or ADHD.
Like many learning disorders and auditory problems, APD symptoms range from mild to severe. Fortunately, they’re not very difficult to spot.
Common symptoms of APD include the following:
- Mishearing sounds and words
- Being overwhelmed in noisy environments
- Better hearing and language processing behavior in quiet settings
- Difficulty with spelling and phonics
- Not following verbal directions accurately
- Difficulty understanding verbal math problems
- Difficulty following and engaging in conversations
Granted, the signs and symptoms of ADP are similar to those of ADHD, dyslexia, hearing loss, depression, speech-language delay, and other conditions. But since these symptoms indicate learning disabilities or language processing issues, it’s best to consult an audiologist to determine if a child has APD or another similar condition.
Diagnosing auditory processing disorders
Hearing specialists like audiologists can properly diagnose or dismiss APD. Testing kids for APD involves various non-invasive normal hearing activities.
Most often than not, audiologists rely on the following:
- Auditory figure-ground
- Auditory closure
- Dichotic listening
- Temporal processing
- Binaural interaction
Each listening test involves specific hearing challenges in various settings. Audiologists can test a child’s ability to communicate with others, their understanding of pitch and intonation, their skill at pinpointing directional speech, etc. It’s also possible to test children under the age of 7 using electrophysiology to determine the body’s response to speech.
Helping with APD at home and school
Kids don’t fully develop their central auditory system until approximately 14 years of age. That means that ADP doesn’t prevent them from enhancing their listening skills and language skills. They can improve their auditory processing skills and auditory memory through various auditory training exercises, along with the use of assistive listening devices.
While there currently is not a cure for APD, parents, teachers, and specialists can help improve a child’s ability to process auditory information and overcome the challenges of APD with special education and assistive tools.
Parents and teachers can try to change the listening environment by minimizing background noise and other distractions. Individual therapy sessions also work. Speech-language pathologists can help kids overcome language deficits through speech-language therapy. Counselors can help with depression, self-esteem, anxiety, and other triggers. Sometimes, occupational therapy can amend auditory timing problems and other sensory issues.
It’s worth noting that hearing aids and listening devices can alleviate the symptoms of APD. For instance, frequency modulation systems or remote microphone systems can suppress background noises and emphasize the speaker’s voice. Computer programs can process sounds and render them in a clearer voice and tone.
Naturally, other methods like using visual aids, recorded lessons, strategic seating, note-taking, and speaking slower may further help kids improve their reading comprehension and overcome their auditory deficit.
Assistive technologies that help with APD
Various assistive technologies help kids with APD overcome auditory processing, score higher on hearing tests, and escape auditory discrimination. These include:
- Noise-canceling headphones
- Text to speech (TTS) software (such as Speechify)
- Proofreading software
- FM systems
- Graphic organizers
- Captioning software
- Classroom sound field systems
- Personal listening devices
- Audio recorders
- Note-taking apps
Speechify—The best TTS tool for auditory processing disorders
When looking for assistive technologies with an impact on audiology, Speechify is one of the top apps. The text to speech (TTS) reader uses advanced AI-generated voices to narrate written text aloud in many languages.
Unlike regular speech, Speechify narrations don’t have background noises and emphasize the speakers. It can help kids with APD, dyslexia, autism, language disorders, other attention deficit disorders, and with other auditory processing difficulties learn to focus. It also enables playback control, scanning, generating narrations from illustrations or textbooks, etc.
You can try the app for free to take advantage of its many features designed to develop normal hearing and language comprehension in school-aged children and adults.
Which technology is the most appropriate for people with an auditory processing disorder?
Many technologies can help people with an auditory processing disorder, but no single piece of tech is best because APD symptoms and severity can vary wildly. Usually, text to speech software can be beneficial because it addresses several issues. TTS readers like Speechify can offer note-taking, generate narrations without background noise, enable playback control, check grammar and spelling, etc. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, or ASHA, also recommends FM systems.
What therapy is used for APD?
Speech-language pathology is a form of speech therapy often used by kids with ADP. It focuses on fixing sound discrimination and the inability to differentiate similar sounds. The right pathologist can help kids perceive sounds clearer and better respond to a parent’s or teacher’s voice.
Can APD be cured?
APD has no cure, but it has many compensatory tools to manage and overcome auditory impairment, attention deficit, and speech sound decoding issues. Speech processing problems may still persist into adulthood.
How does FM system help with auditory processing disorder?
An FM or remote microphone system can focus and emphasize a speaker’s voice. It makes it legible and easier to understand by minimizing background noise. These systems require the speaker to wear a microphone transmitter and listeners to have a wireless receiver. FM systems work with on-ear listening devices and speaker boxes.
Can you outgrow APD?
Kids can outgrow some of the effects of APD with proper interventions, assistive technology, and speech therapy, but they might not fully overcome all auditory processing issues unless they start working on it very early.