Auditory processing disorder also known as Central auditory processing disorder is an ear brain connection impairment and does not show up as hearing loss or hearing impairment. Children with APD have normal hearing but something is affecting the processing and interpretation of the information so they have difficulty making sense of what they hear. APD affects 7% of school aged children. APD is sometimes misdiagnosed with dyslexia, ADHD and other learning disorder. It is important to have your child evaluated by qualified professionals. Audiologist suggest that APD cannot be properly diagnosed before 7 years old however some trained professionals like Tomatis Consultants can appreciate the possibility of APD through a Tomatis Listening Test and the child’s observation and history.
There are three distinct conditions that occur with APD:
Phonological processing problem – children with APD have a problem discriminating words with the same sound. Seventeen and seventy may sound alike to them.
Auditory memory problems – memorizing numbers and facts is particularly difficult for children with this problem. They have difficulty recalling what they heard, either immediately or when needed later.
Language processing problems – children with APD have difficulty associating things to sounds that they hear. They have poor listening skills so they do not develop reasoning skills and critical thinking.
Characteristics of Auditory processing disorder:
- Difficulty listening when there is a background noise
- Says “huh” or “what” to repeat what was said
- Monotone or shrill voice
- Unable to listen to instructions
- Easily distracted by noise
- Have poor musical ability
- Difficulty following spoken directions
- Have trouble with reading and spelling
- Have poor listening skill
- Have difficulty with reading, spelling and vocabulary
Diagnosing auditory processing disorder requires a multidisciplinary team of consultants. A team approach is important to fully assess APD. A paediatric ear, nose and throat doctor will assess medical problems with hearing like ear infections, etc. An audiologist will perform auditory evaluation to test the child’s hearing sensitivity to determine if there is a hearing function problem. A speech-language pathologist will find out how well the child understands the quality of expressive language. A psychologist will give cognitive and behavioral information. A teacher can look for academic difficulties.
Auditory processing disorder is not curable but it can be treated. One effective form of treatment is the Auditory Integration Training. The most important work on this area was developed by Dr. Alfred Tomatis. The Tomatis Method or Tomatis Listening program uses sound through an electronic device that strengthen the middle ear, the inner ear and the auditory system to strengthen language, learning and sound processing. The Tomatis Method is the best way to improve function of the sensory system; this training integrates the most current research and technology to help children with APD. This therapy is harmless and does not require an evaluation so it can be used for children three years and older.