Understanding Auditory Processing Disorder

April 4 is Auditory Processing Disorder Awareness Day



April 4 is Auditory Processing Disorder Awareness Day and the Hearing Health Foundation is highlighting the effects and challenges associated with living with APD.

Auditory processing disorder (APD), also known as central auditory processing disorder (CAPD), is an auditory deficit affecting how the central nervous system interprets verbal information. Those living with APD show impairments in sound localization, specifically their ability to isolate a sound source in social environments.

Approximately 5% of school-age children have APD. Children with APD often are uncertain about what they hear and have difficulty listening in loud background noises as well as understanding rapid speech. Often distracted, they can struggle to keep up with conversations which impedes their ability to read, spell, and follow oral directions.

Researchers found a correlation between working memory capacity, which is the ability to retain and manipulate information, and speech development. They found that working memory capacity was significantly lower in children with APD and may be the cause of their inability to separate and group incoming information and, in turn, lead to poor speech perception in noisy environments.

Other researchers found that peripheral hearing loss may affect performance in certain APD tests in older adults. Older adults with mild to moderate hearing loss did significantly poorer on tests that require recalling words, identifying high and low tone patterns, and repeating short sentences.

Although APD can be difficult to diagnose, there are telltale signs: poor auditory memory, difficulty identifying sounds, and a delayed response to verbal requests and instructions. APD is sometimes misdiagnosed as ADD/ADHD or dyslexia, so if you suspect you or a loved one may have APD, it is advised that they go through an individual comprehensive assessment with an audiologist for a more accurate diagnosis.

It is important to understand that research is still needed to understand auditory processing disorders, accurate methodologies for diagnosis, and the best interventions for each child or adult. Even though there are available strategies to treat children with APD, researchers are hard at work finding alternative treatments that will improve the lives of those suffering from APD.