Do you ever wonder why your child struggles to follow directions? Do they have trouble hearing in noisy environments? Do they mix up the order of words when speaking? If so, your child may have Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). What is APD? Children with APD have difficulty understanding and using the information they hear. This can affect a child’s ability to learn, communicate, and socialize. Read more!
In this article we will discuss:
What is APD?
Auditory Processing Disorder is a neurological disorder. It affects the way the brain processes
auditory stimulation. 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 disorder, this process is impaired. It does not affect the person’s ability to hear the sound itself.
APD symptoms may vary depending on the severity of the disorder
APD can range from mild to severe and can affect people of all ages. But, it is most diagnosed in children between the ages of 4-14. Boys are also more likely to be diagnosed with APD disorder than girls.
APD symptoms to look out for
In general, people with APD may have difficulty understanding speech. Especially when they are in noisy environments. They may also mix up the order of words when speaking, and have trouble following directions. A child with APD may have difficulty understanding a teacher in a noisy classroom. A parent may also give their child a list of instructions. But the child has trouble remembering all the steps in the correct order.
Help your child with Auditory Processing Disorder succeed
APD symptoms include:
Difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments. This includes restaurants or crowded rooms. This symptom is one of the most common APD symptoms.
Trouble following verbal instructions
Difficulties with reading comprehension, particularly when many people are speaking at once.
The trouble with auditory memory. This includes remembering what was said in a conversation or lecture.
APD can also affect a person’s social skills.
Listening to others is part of communication. But, people with APD disorder may have difficulty following a conversation. They also have a hard time understanding auditory input. This can make social interactions very challenging. This might reflect in children feeling shy, anxious, or withdrawn in groups. As a result, people with APD may have trouble making and keeping friends.
Auditory processing and autism
According to some, autism is a social/communication difficulty. The ability to process auditory information is an important element of social communication. Yet, people with autism spectrum disorder may have a hard time processing sounds. They may not get the meaning at that time. He or she may appear uncooperative. In reality, he or she is suffering from an auditory processing disorder.
We don’t know what accounts for about a third of individuals on the autism spectrum from developing language. Recent studies suggest that autistic people have trouble distinguishing and processing sounds. It is one of the most fundamental abilities required to comprehend and use language.
If you have autism – or have a child with autism – you may have experienced or seen indications of this difficulty such as the following:
Covering one’s ears in situations that don’t seem particularly noisy to most people
Humming in response to chatter or other noises
Feeling distressed when surrounded by a lot of chatter or other noise
Parents may notice significant difficulties in their children’s auditory processing. They detect these “auditory hypersensitivities” before their youngsters are diagnosed with autism. We now know that autism and auditory processing disorders are linked. Although the degree of overlap is unknown.
The ability to comprehend auditory input is an important element in socialization. The better we grasp autism, the easier it will be to devise strategies for intervention that are effective!
What causes APD?
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 involves exposure to certain drugs or toxins, premature birth, and/or low birth weight.
How is APD diagnosed?
If you think your child may have APD disorder, it is important to see a doctor or audiologist for an evaluation. The evaluation will include a hearing test to rule out any other hearing problems. The audiologist will also assess your child’s ability to process auditory information. This can be done with a variety of different tests, such as asking your child to repeat words or follow directions.
How is APD treated?
There is no “cure” for APD, but there are treatments that can help people manage the symptoms. The most common treatment is speech therapy. A speech therapist can teach your child compensatory strategies. This can help them better understand and process auditory information. For example, a speech therapist may teach your child how to use visual cues to supplement what they hear. In some cases, hearing aids or other assistive devices may also be recommended.
APD and speech therapy
During speech therapy, a speech therapist will work on a variety of different skills with your child. The exact goals will depend on your child’s individual needs. Some common goals of speech therapy for APD include:
Improve listening skills
Following simple commands can help improve your child’s listening skills. Examples such as “touch your nose” or “pick up the toy.” When children learn to listen to simple commands, a speech therapist will work on more complex commands. This includes commands such as “put the toy in the box” or “get the toy that is under the table.
Increase attention span
The therapist may work on activities to help increase your child’s attention span. For example, they may play a game where your child has to identify a certain number of items in a room. Other activities such as movement activities will help children to attend for a longer period of time.
The therapist may also work on activities to help improve your child’s memory. For example, they may have your child repeat a list of items back to them or remember a story that was read aloud. They can also do a grocery roleplay where your child has to remember a list of items that they need to buy at the store.
Living with APD
If your child has APD, it is important to remember that they are not alone. There are many people with this condition. While it can be challenging, there are ways to manage the symptoms and help your child lead a happy and successful life.
What is APD at home and how we can help?
Having a child with APD can be challenging and frustrating. But, we have to keep in mind that they, too, are having a hard time themselves! Imagine how confusing and overwhelming the world must be. Children can’t always make sense of what they hear. While it can be difficult, there are things we can do to best support our child at home.
If your child has APD, there are things that you can do at home to help. Here are some tips:
Make sure your child is getting enough sleep. A tired child will have a harder time paying attention and processing information.
Set up a regular routine and stick to it as much as possible. This will help your child know what to expect and be more prepared for activities.
Create a quiet environment for homework and other activities that must focus. Turn off the television and limit distractions.
Give clear and concise instructions. Your child might have trouble understanding. Try breaking down the task into smaller steps.
Encourage your child to take breaks often. Taking a few minutes to move around or relax will help them refocus. They will be able to pay attention for a longer period of time.
Provide positive reinforcement. When your child is doing well, make sure to let them know. This will help motivate them to continue using the strategies they have learned.
It is also important to have a cooperative team for your child.
This team should include the child’s family, teachers, therapists, and primary care physicians. Everyone should be on the same page regarding goals and strategies. This will help ensure that your child is getting the best possible support. If you think your child may have APD, it is important to talk to your child’s doctor. They can refer you to a speech therapist for an evaluation. The earlier the disorder is identified, the sooner treatment can begin. With the right support, your child can lead a happy and successful life.
A note for everyone on the team!
APD is a complex disorder and often requires a team approach to treatment. It can be challenging. Yet, it is important to remember that every child is different! They will respond to different strategies.
It is important to be patient and flexible as you work with your child to find the best possible solution for them.
Make learning fun!
One of the best things you can do to help your child with APD is to make learning fun! Explore different ways of learning and try to find activities that your child enjoys. This will help them be more engaged and motivated to learn.
APD is a complex condition that can impact a person’s ability to process auditory information. While there is no “cure”, there are treatments that can help people manage the symptoms. The most common treatment is speech therapy. With the right support, people with APD can lead happy and successful lives. 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
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.