Sometimes mistaken for hearing loss, auditory processing disorder (APD) is a condition characterized by trouble understanding the meaning with sounds. One way to describe APD is as a hearing impairment, which is distinct from a hearing loss. We discuss the symptoms, diagnosis, causes and treatments for APD below.
Symptoms of Auditory Processing Disorder
While APD is typically associated with childhood, anyone of any age can be affected. Symptoms include:
- Trouble listening in background noise
- Difficulty talking on the phone
- Difficulty localizing sounds (locating where they are coming from)
- Trouble following multi-step instructions
- Difficulty participating in conversations, like frequently mishearing information
- Trouble concentrating
- Lacking musical abilities
Many of these symptoms overlap with other conditions such as hearing loss, ADHD and other language processing disorders, making diagnosis difficult.
Diagnosing Auditory Processing Disorder
Usually a hearing test will be conducted to rule out hearing loss.
To diagnose APD, an audiologist or speech-language pathologist will also take a case history to discuss risk factors and circumstances where you or your child has the most trouble understanding. Teachers and instructors at The Learning Lab may be able to help provide insight.
Causes of Auditory Processing Disorder
It’s often the case that the root cause of APD is not clear. However, some risk factors have been associated with APD, including:
- Prenatal issues or difficult birth
- Head trauma/traumatic brain injuries
- Chronic ear infections
- Family history of APD
Treatment for Auditory Processing Disorder
There is no quick-fix when it comes to treating APD. However, there are many strategies and options available that help with listening and understanding, including:
- Assistive listening devices. These devices, often used in classrooms, include a speaker and wireless microphone to help people with APD hear better.
- Auditory training. This entails a person with APD learning strategies to help them hear, like distinguishing between certain phonemes (distinct sounds), identifying where sounds are coming from or focusing on other hearing-related tasks.
- Compensatory strategies. Using mnemonics and other tools can help with information recall.
- Environmental changes. Asking people to speak slower, note-taking and receiving written instructions can help people with APD be more successful.
For more information about auditory processing disorder or to schedule an evaluation, call the experts at Arizona Desert ENT Specialists today.