Auditory Processing Disorder, also known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder or simply APD, is a disorder affecting the ability to understand speech. Those with this disorder are not able to distinguish between sounds in word at any volume. In this case, the individual is having a hearing disorder, not hearing loss. The Learning Disabilities Association of America states that those with APD “can also find it difficult to tell where sounds are coming from, to make sense of the order of sounds, or to block out competing background noise” [1].

Some common signs and symptoms of APD are:

  • Difficulty processing and remembering language-related tasks
  • May process thoughts and ideas slowly and have difficulty explaining them
  • Misspells, mispronounces, and confuses similar-sounding words
  • Confused by figurative language
  • Misunderstands puns and jokes
  • Interprets words too literally
  • Gets distracted by background sounds/noise
  • Difficulty following directions in a series

Auditory processing disorder affects individuals at all ages and it is estimated that 3% – 5% of the population suffer from APD, but that is not including those who are undiagnosed [2]. In the past five years, many research articles have suggested that children with learning difficulties have an undiagnosed condition of APD. It is currently not clear how one can get APD. Research has shown that some cases are genetic, but also can be the result of trauma at birth or multiple middle ear infections [2]. APD has also been linked to aphasia and Parkinson’s [2]. The problem with APD is that it can be difficult to diagnosis and the is currently not a cure. However, here are two ways to help manage APD:

Speech therapy: can help by improving individual sounds, phonemes, in words, developing active listening skills, and depicting appropriate language for social situations.

Aural rehabilitation: can help in the same way as speech therapy but with more of a focus on individual sounds.

APD is not commonly talked about, so here are some myths about it:

  1. APD is the same thing as being hard of hearing.
  2. APD is rare.
  3. Kids with APD are less intelligent than their peers.
  4. APD is the same as ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
  5. Children with APD are lazy and rude.

While auditory processing disorder is not a well-known disorder, it is real and something that affects the population. Now you know more about it and be more aware if you or your loved ones are experiencing it.

Talk to an auditory specialist today.