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Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Vs. Hearing Loss

Auditory processing disorder (APD) and hearing loss are both conditions that affect how we process sound. However, they are two different disorders with different symptoms. In this post, we will discuss the key differences between APD and hearing loss. We will also explore the treatments available for each condition. If you or someone you know is struggling with auditory processing, it is important to seek professional help. There are many resources available to help people with APD or hearing loss improve their quality of life.


In this article we will discuss:


APD disorder

Meet Sarah!


Sarah is a 5-year-old girl who has been diagnosed with APD. Although she has normal hearing, she does not experience any problems with her ears or outer ear. She struggles with processing auditory information in the brain. In order to help manage these challenges, Sarah’s parents work closely with her teachers and other professionals. They provide her with targeted therapies that focus on improving her auditory processing skills. They also encourage her to practice activities like listening to games and music-based exercises at home to strengthen this ability over time. Overall, Sarah’s APD can present significant challenges for her both at school and at home. But, there are many tools and strategies available to help her overcome these obstacles.


How does the average person process auditory information?


When we listen to sounds, our ears gather and transmit that information to the auditory cortex. It is located in the temporal lobe of the brain. This part of the brain then processes this auditory information. It sends it along to other parts of the brain for interpretation. When someone has APD, however, there are abnormalities or deficiencies in this process. It results to difficulties with processing auditory information. These can manifest as problems with memory, language comprehension, reading comprehension, attention span, and more.


Auditory processing disorder (APD) is a neurological condition.


APD affects the way the brain processes auditory information. In the brain, sounds are received by the auditory cortex. It is where they are interpreted and organized into meaningful information. But, in people with APD, this process is impaired. It does not but affect the person’s ability to hear the sound itself. The cause of APD is unknown, but it is believed to be neurological in nature. In some cases, it is thought to be hereditary or has a genetic component. But, many cases are believed to be caused by certain risk factors during pregnancy. This includes exposure to certain drugs or toxins, premature birth, and/or low birth weight.


We can help your child with APD!

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There are four auditory processing abilities that people may have difficulty with:


  1. Auditory discrimination: noticing, comparing, and differentiating between distinct sounds.

  2. Figure-ground segregation: focusing on the essential noises in a noisy environment.

  3. Audio memory: recalling what you’ve heard recently or in the future

  4. Auditory Sequencing: comprehending and reciting the order of sounds and words APD can manifest itself in a wide range of symptoms.


APD symptoms include:

  1. Difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments. This includes restaurants or crowded rooms is one of the most common APD symptoms.

  2. Trouble following verbal instructions

  3. Difficulties with reading comprehension, particularly when multiple people are speaking at once.

  4. The trouble with auditory memory, such as remembering what was said in a conversation or lecture.

Signs of APD are often first noticed in childhood.


Auditory processing disorder is diagnosed through a series of tests. It will assess how well an individual can understand and remember spoken information. These tests may be administered by an audiologist, speech-language pathologist, or other trained professional. With APD symptoms, we also need to look for signs that can confirm that a person has APD. Many children with APD are misdiagnosed as having ADHD since ADHD has similar symptoms as APD symptoms. But, APD and ADHD are two distinct conditions.


APD is often diagnosed in children.


While the cause of this condition is not entirely understood, there are certain risk factors that can make a person more likely to develop APD. These include having an ear infection as a child, being born prematurely, or suffering a head injury.


Children with auditory processing disorder may struggle in school, and may find it difficult to keep up with their peers. Teachers may note that the child has difficulty following verbal instructions or participating in class discussions.

What is APD and how does it affect children.

APD is also a disorder that can affect adults.


While the symptoms may be less obvious in adulthood, people with APD disorder may still have difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments, remembering information, or following complex verbal instructions. The good news is that auditory processing disorder is a treatable condition.


Hearing loss affects your ability to hear sound. APD impacts your brain’s ability to process auditory information.


Hearing loss and APD share some common symptoms, such as difficulty hearing in noisy environments and trouble understanding speech. However, there are some key differences between the two conditions.


Hearing loss is typically caused by damage to the structures of the ear, while APD is a neurological condition that affects the way the brain processes auditory information.

Hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids or other assistive devices, while APD often requires listening training or speech therapy.


If you think you or your child may have APD disorder or hearing loss, it is important to see a doctor or audiologist for a proper diagnosis. With early intervention and treatment, many people with these disorders can lead normal, healthy lives.


How is auditory processing disorder diagnosed?

Auditory processing disorder is diagnosed through a series of tests that assess how well an individual can understand and remember spoken information. These tests may be administered by an audiologist, speech-language pathologist, or other trained professional.


Tools used are:

  1. TOVA test (Test of Varied Auditory Stimuli)

  2. SCAN-A Test (Screening Tool for the Assessment of Auditory Processing)

  3. CELF-4 Test (Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals, Fourth Edition)


What are the treatments for auditory processing disorder?


There is currently no known cure for auditory processing disorder (APD). There is also no one-size-fits-all approach to treating APD. The best way to treat this condition is to work with a team of professionals who can design a custom treatment plan based on your specific needs. Treatment may include:


  1. Listening training: This type of therapy teaches you how to process and interpret auditory information more effectively through auditory learning.

  2. Speech therapy: This involves working with a speech-language pathologist to improve your ability to understand and produce clear, intelligible speech. They can also help children with auditory learning.


With the right treatment plan in place, many people with auditory processing disorder can go on to live full and happy lives. So if you suspect that you or your child has APD disorder, don’t delay in seeking professional help.


Speech therapy can help with APD disorder.


This involves working with a speech-language pathologist to improve your ability to understand and produce clear, intelligible speech.


Auditory learning can be improved through speech therapy. APD patients have trouble distinguishing sounds. They may mistake ‘that’ for ‘cat,’ or ‘dead’ for ‘bed.’ Therapy might include a variety of exercises that are designed to address specific auditory challenges and range from computer-assisted software programs like Fast For Word and Earobics to one-on-one therapy with a speech and language therapist.

A girl experiencing APD symptoms at school.

These therapy methods are generally used by a professional therapist while working with youngsters:


  1. To address your child’s sound discrimination issue, a professional will teach your child’s brain to distinguish sounds – first in a quiet space, then with progressively louder background noise – in both quiet and noisy situations.

  2. An audiologist may use sequencing routines to exercise the listening “muscles” in order to sharpen auditory memory. A speech-language pathologist, on the other hand, will have your youngster repeat a sequence of numbers and commands while practicing his listening skills.

  3. The therapist will teach and encourage your kid to ask a teacher, adult, or peer to repeat or rephrase an order or statement in order to overcome language-processing difficulties. The therapist and your child might also focus on developing a unique note-taking method that allows him to record what he’s learning in school.

APD at home


As we know now, APD is a condition that affects the ability to process auditory information. This can make it difficult for children with APD to follow instructions or distinguish the different sounds they hear.

Some strategies you can try at home include:

  1. You could also try using visual cues, such as gestures or pictures, to help your child follow verbal instructions. This can make it easier for your child to process and understand spoken language.

  2. Eliminate background noise as much as possible. This can be anything from loud music to the TV being on in the background. You may also want to try using a white noise machine or earplugs to help your child focus.

  3. Give your child time to process what you’ve said before expecting a response. This will give them time to process the information and formulate a response.

  4. If you suspect that your child has APD, it is important to seek professional help right away. You will be working with a team of professionals. This includes an audiologist, speech-language pathologist, and teacher. They can help your child develop the skills they need to succeed in school and beyond.


APD in the classroom

There are also strategies that can be used in the classroom to help children with APD:

  1. The teacher can provide visual aids, such as pictures or diagrams, to supplement verbal instructions.

  2. Classroom activities should be structured so that there is a clear beginning, middle, and end. This will help students with APD follow instructions and stay focused on the task at hand.

  3. The teacher should encourage students to speak up if they need help or don’t understand something. They can also work one-on-one with children who have difficulty following verbal instructions or keeping up in class.

Speech Therapy for APD

Overall, it is important for teachers and parents to be aware of the signs and symptoms of APD, and to work together to help children with this condition succeed in school. With the right support and strategies, children with APD can thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.​


Does your child have trouble following instructions or distinguishing different sounds? If you suspect that your child has APD, it is important to seek professional help right away. At Better Speech, we offer online speech therapy services convenient for you and tailored to your child's individual needs. Our services are affordable and effective - get Better Speech now.

 

About the Author

Mikee Larrazabal


I am a Speech-Language Pathologist with 14 years of experience working with children and adults who have communication difficulties. I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science at Cebu Doctors' University and have been helping people overcome their communication challenges ever since.


I have worked with individuals of different ages, including toddlers, preschoolers, school-aged children, adults and seniors. I'm passionate about speech therapy and take great satisfaction in helping people overcome their communication challenges and improve their lives through better communication skills. In my spare time I like reading books, going hiking in nature and taking care of my dog Locas.

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