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Auditory Processing Disorder: What It Is and How to Help

Keywords: auditory processing disorder, APD, central auditory processing disorder, CAPD, hearing loss, child development, early intervention, special education, inclusion






Auditory processing disorder (APD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects how the brain processes auditory information. People with APD have difficulty understanding speech, especially in noisy environments. They may also have difficulty following directions, remembering information, and discriminating between similar-sounding words.


APD is not the same as hearing loss. People with APD have normal hearing, but their brains have difficulty interpreting the sounds they hear. APD can be a significant challenge for children, as it can interfere with their learning and development.


Symptoms of APD

Common symptoms of APD in children include:

  • Difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments

  • Difficulty following directions

  • Difficulty remembering information

  • Difficulty discriminating between similar-sounding words

  • Asking for repetition or clarification frequently

  • Avoiding noisy environments

  • Having difficulty paying attention

  • Having difficulty with reading comprehension

  • Having difficulty with writing

Causes of APD

The exact cause of APD is unknown, but it is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some risk factors for APD include:

  • Premature birth

  • Low birth weight

  • Ear infections

  • Head injuries

  • Exposure to certain toxins

Diagnosis of APD

APD is diagnosed by an audiologist through a series of tests. These tests assess the child's ability to understand speech in noise, follow directions, and discriminate between similar-sounding words.


Treatment of APD

There is no cure for APD, but there are a number of treatments that can help children to manage their symptoms. Treatment typically involves a combination of speech therapy, occupational therapy, and educational accommodations.

  • Speech therapy can help children to improve their auditory processing skills and learn strategies for coping with their challenges.

  • Occupational therapy can help children to develop their sensory processing skills and motor skills.

  • Educational accommodations can help children to succeed in school, such as providing them with preferential seating in a quiet area of the classroom and allowing them to use a recorder to capture audio lectures.

How to help your child at home

There are a number of things that parents can do to help their child at home with APD. Here are a few tips:

  • Create a quiet environment for your child to study and learn.

  • Reduce background noise when speaking to your child.

  • Face your child when speaking to them and make eye contact.

  • Use simple and clear language.

  • Break down complex instructions into smaller steps.

  • Give your child time to process information before responding.

  • Be patient and understanding.

If you are concerned that your child may have APD, please talk to your pediatrician. They can refer you to an audiologist for a comprehensive evaluation.

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