What is auditory processing disorder, and how can you treat it? Check out this guide to APD for an explanation of this condition and treatment strategies.
What is auditory processing disorder?
Many disorders can impair your communication and learning, such as auditory processing disorder (APD). The disability may seem more daunting without a solid understanding of the condition. This article will shed light on auditory processing disorder and provide a few treatment strategies.
ADP is a hearing condition affecting around 3-4% of school-aged children. The other name for this learning disability is central auditory processing disorder (CAPD).
Those with the condition have a hard time understanding other people because their brains and ears aren’t fully coordinated. There’s interference in the brain that keep children from interpreting and recognizing speech sounds.
The most common risk factors and causes of APD include:
Chronic ear infections
Nervous system problems
Brain injury or head injury
APD usually influences the child’s normal hearing, as well as the ability to speak, write, spell, and read. The symptoms of APD may also include dropping word endings or conflating similar sounds.
Communication with others is especially difficult. As the affected individuals can’t process sounds efficiently, they also can struggle to come up with quick responses.
Here are a few other symptoms of auditory processing disorder:
Struggling to following conversations
Trouble with auditory sequencing (understanding and remembering the order of sounds and words)
Difficulty listening to music due to hearing loss and an impaired auditory system
Low auditory memory (limited ability to memorize spoken instructions, particularly multi-step instruction)
Knowing the origin of a sound
Discerning noises in loud places with lots of background noise and understanding people when there are multiple speakers
When diagnosing APD, clinicians may require individuals to do the following tests:
Listening tests (listening to speech in noisy environments)
Hearing tests to spot small sound changes
Filling in missing parts of speech
Measuring the brain’s reaction to sounds with electrodes
Although APD is incurable, there are many ways to treat the condition and help individuals better cope with the impairment.
The best method of managing the condition in adults and children is to have a multidisciplinary team of professionals including:
These experts can help the affected understand their condition, evaluate their language disorder, help enhance their cognition, and improve their academic performance.
The specific treatment strategy depends on the cause of the condition. However, most approaches include the following methods:
Assistive listening devices
Hearing aid amplification
Special listening techniques
There are several subgroups of these treatment methods:
Environmental modifications—These adjustments can involve reducing background noises or changing the way the affected person receives auditory information. It can include comprehension checks, visual cues, written instructions, and repeating key information.
Speech therapy—Speech-language pathologists can help APD sufferers accurately discern sounds. They can also enhance the perception of individual sounds to improve language skills.
Compensatory strategies—Professionals can teach people with ADP to compensate for their impaired listening abilities. For instance, they can show them how to be proactive in the learning environment by asking for clarifications or using recording devices.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) recommends audiologists provide these strategies. Still, some teachers and other professionals can also play a major role.
This is because everyone has the same goal—addressing the learning disorder and meeting students’ needs.
Best tools and treatments for APD
Here are a few specific treatments and tools you can use to alleviate APD, depending on your environment.
Teachers of students with APD can use these strategies to help improve the learners’ auditory processing skills:
Enhance classroom acoustics by adding bookshelves, carpets, and drapes to allow the room to absorb unnecessary sounds.
Seat the children in the front of the room, away from open doors, fans, fish tanks, pencil sharpeners, or other noisy items.
Offer attention prompts (e.g., touching students’ shoulders occasionally to remind them to focus).
Employ visual aids, provide pictorial outlines, and jot down keywords or instructions on the board.
Improve communication by pausing to give students enough time to sort information and establishing eye contact.
Ask clarification questions to ensure the children are following the lecture and rephrase any misunderstood material.
Incorporate frequent breaks because youngsters with APD work harder than others to focus and process information.
Use headsets and microphones to amplify the voice and sharpen students’ focus.
Parents and other family members of children with APD can try many helpful tools.
Introduce tapes and games, such as Simple Simon, to boost attention and listening.
Help with assignments by going through the basic concepts and teaching kids any new words they may encounter to lessen anxiety.
Offer a structured approach to help kids focus in a chaotic environment (e.g., make a list of the items they need to return home so they don’t forget them inside the locker).
Eliminate distractions before speaking with them, including the computer or TV.
Ask them to repeat your words to check comprehension.
Speak concisely, without superfluous details.
Use relaxation methods to help them clear their mind before an important conversation.
Some of the above methods work both in school and at home. However, they can be even more effective when used alongside technology, which can make all the difference when treating APD.
There are many technologies you can use, such as text to speech (TTS). For example, Speechify is a TTS platform that reads any text aloud with adjustable voices. You can slow down the rate to improve comprehension, proofreading, and listening.
Furthermore, the app can enhance multitasking. You can listen to the content through your headphones, allowing you to exercise and be productive otherwise.
Speechify makes listening easier
What is an example of auditory processing disorder?
An example of an APD is the inability to discern individual sounds and their order in a word.
Is auditory processing disorder a form of autism?
No, APD is not a form of autism.
Is auditory processing disorder part of ADHD?
APD and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are distinct conditions with different characteristics.
How can you tell if someone has auditory processing disorder?
A person with APD has a hard time following auditory instructions and understanding others.
What is the difference between auditory processing disorder and attention deficit disorder?
Persons with APD primarily have trouble listening and often request clarifications, whereas people with ADHD mainly deal with hyperactivity and/or inattentiveness.