Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory processing disorder (APD) is a condition where a person has difficulty processing complex sounds, such as speech, even though their hearing is normal. It can affect both children and adults, although it is not typically diagnosed until at least the age of 7. Some people are born with APD, while others acquire it as a result of recurrent middle ear infections, stroke or traumatic brain injury. Symptoms of APD may worsen with age as they interact with normal aging processes.

Adults with auditory processing disorder may have difficulty with the following tasks:

  • Understanding speech in noisy environments (e.g., at a party or in a busy office)
  • Understanding speech over the phone
  • Understanding rapid or accented speech
  • Using someone’s tone of voice to interpret humor or sarcasm
  • Following complex instructions
  • Multi-tasking (e.g., listening and taking notes at the same time)
  • Learning from information that is presented orally
  • Learning a foreign language
  • Appreciating music

If you have auditory processing disorder you may find it helps to:

  • Turn off the TV or radio or moving to a quiet room before starting a conversation
  • Have important conversations via email rather than on the telephone
  • Use earplugs or noise-canceling headphones to block out background noises like air-conditioners
  • Repeat back instructions to the person talking to you to confirm you have understood them

Auditory processing disorder is diagnosed by an audiologist, but a Speech Pathologist can assess which areas of communication are most affected by APD. Speech Pathologists can also provide therapy to improve processing skills and compensatory strategies.