Auditory Processing Disorders

Children with APD can’t process the information they hear in the same way as others because their ears and brain don’t fully co-ordinate. Something adversely affects the way the brain recognizes and interprets sounds, especially the sounds composing speech. These children do not recognize subtle differences between sounds in words, even when the sounds are loud and clear enough to be heard. These kinds of problems usually occur in background noise, which is a natural listening environment. So children with APD have the basic difficulty of understanding speech signals presented under less than optimal conditions. This is different to a hearing loss; in that these children can hear well in optimum conditions as would occur during a hearing test. APD can occur with language disorders and ADHD.
A speech therapist can help children with the problems listed below, but the diagnosis is made by Audiologists after the age of 7-8 years.
1. Auditory Figure-Ground Problems: when a child can’t pay attention if there’s noise in the background. Noisy, low-structured classrooms could be very frustrating.
2. Auditory Memory Problems: when a child has difficulty remembering information such as directions, lists, or study materials. It can be immediate (“I can’t remember it now”) and/or delayed (“I can’t remember it when I need it for later”).
3. Auditory Discrimination Problems: when a child has difficulty hearing the difference between words or sounds that are similar (COAT/BOAT or CH/SH). This can affect following directions, and reading, spelling, and writing skills, among others.
4. Auditory Attention Problems: when a child can’t stay focused on listening long enough to complete a task or requirement (such as listening to a lecture in school). Kids with CAPD (Central Auditory Processing Disorder) often have trouble maintaining attention, although health, motivation, and attitude also can play a role.
5. Auditory Cohesion Problems: when higher-level listening tasks are difficult. Auditory cohesion skills — drawing inferences from conversations, understanding riddles, or comprehending verbal math problems — require heightened auditory processing and language levels. They develop best when all the other skills (levels 1 through 4 above) are intact.