Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), also known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD), impedes a child’s ability to manage information that he or she hears. While it does not affect hearing, it makes it difficult to process and use auditory information. It can interfere with a child’s ability to learn, concentrate, and interact with other people.
APD is not universally recognized as a disorder and does not appear in the DSM V. Audiologists can diagnose it after conducting tests that measure specific auditory processing functions. The symptoms overlap with other diagnoses such as ADHD and learning or language disorders, and many kids with APD also have one of these diagnoses.
- Difficulty following directions
- Frequent requests to repeat information
- Trouble distinguishing between similar-sounding words
- Lack of focus, especially in noisy surroundings
- Impaired memory for nursery rhymes or song lyrics
- Struggling with reading, spelling, speaking, or rhyming
- Mixing up the order of sounds in words or numbers in a sequence
- Inability to follow conversations
- Trouble expressing thoughts and feelings clearly
Treatment for Auditory Processing Disorder
The most common type of professional help for APD is speech-language therapy, which trains children to improve their skills in distinguishing, remembering, and sequencing sounds. There is little research to support the effectiveness of this intervention, and the brain may simply mature to learn these skills on its own. However, going without treatment can be detrimental to a child’s self esteem and growth as he struggles to learn at the same rate as fellow students. There are also computer programs that aim to improve ability to identify sounds and remember auditory information.
Another way to help kids with APD is through educational therapy, which helps children develop strategies to compensate for skills deficits instead of training them in the skills themselves. Children can learn to manage frustration, play to their strengths, and compensate for the areas where they struggle.