Auditory processing disorder or Central auditory processing disorder affect approximately 2 to 3 percent of school aged children. Children with APD have normal hearing but they have difficulty processing the information. The part of the brain that translates the sound does not function property. Children often do not recognize the difference between sounds in words even when they are spoken loud and clear. Kids with APD have hearing difficulty especially in a noisy environment. APD can cause problems with behavior, mood and learning and often associated with attention deficit disorder, autism and dyslexia.
Symptoms of Auditory Processing Disorder in children include:
• Difficulty hearing in the presence of background noise
• Often asked words to be repeated
• Often says “what?” or “huh”
• Speech or language delay from younger age
• Difficulty following or remembering multi-step instructions
• Reversals in letter of words like “d” for “b” and “t” for “p”
• Difficulty pronouncing words
• Gets easily distracted
• Often mishear similar sounding words
• Difficulty in spelling
• Difficulty in reading aloud
• Speaks in monotone
Early detection and management of APD is important to alleviate the disabling and handicapping consequences of the disorder. A team of professionals are needed to diagnose auditory processing disorder in children. The multi-disciplinary team includes an audiologist, a speech language pathologist, a psychologist and teachers.
The audiologist will perform the actual testing for APD. He will test the child’s ability to hear sounds under different conditions. This will help discover the areas where the child is having problems. The psychologist will administer and interpret the child’s cognitive and educational capacity. The speech-language pathologist can identify the areas of auditory abilities. Parents and teachers will help identify the child’s medical history, learning behaviours, listening behaviours and social skills.
A complete APD diagnosis may not always be possible especially in rural communities where resources are not always available. Some parents and children with APD travel up to 600kms to seek audiological treatment. Specialty services of hearing health specialist have an insufficient numbers to meet the demand in rural communities. As in the case with doctors, speech pathologist, audiologists and otolaryngologists their number decreases with the remoteness.
Access to medical intervention for children with APD in rural areas needs to be improved.
Managing children with auditory processing disorder in the rural communities is not easy, but the government is trying to alleviate the situation. The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine Telehealth provides contact details for doctors, ear, nose and throat specialist, speech pathologist and other hearing health services in the rural and remote areas. Telehealth program like VidKids provides services to children in the rural areas. It offers alternative face-to-face visits to hearing health professionals via telephone or the internet. It utilizes video conferencing to provide therapy, diagnostic services, counseling, technological assistance, education and support to children living in rural areas.
Medical intervention may not be easily accessible in the rural communities, so parents in the rural areas should beware of preprinted auditory processing disorder information suggestions. Not all suggestions are appropriate for your child. Some recommendation for one type of APD could be detrimental or useless for the other. Only an audiologist will help identify the specific type of auditory processing disorder in children. Seek direct intervention or therapy from professional speech-language pathologist to improve your child’s auditory processing abilities.