Auditory processing disorder (APD)
An auditory processing disorder (APD) or central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) affects how sound is processed in the brain. This means that the information does not get to the appropriate part of the brain for this information to be understood correctly; therefore, it causes difficulties in differentiating sounds within language. It is suspected that approximately 4% of children in the United States have an auditory processing disorder.
Some common characteristics of a child with an APD
Children with APD often do not recognize subtle changes in sounds such as different vowel sounds, and they often misperceive or add syllables to words. They may have difficulty following directions with more than one step (2+). They may also have difficulty with oral reading, spelling, and writing. Other areas may be affected as well including math facts, memory skills, attention span, or social interaction.
Different kinds of auditory processing disorders
There are three types of APD:
1) Central auditory processing disorder (CAPD), which is an abnormality in sound processing in the central nervous system that results from damage to structures of the brain involved with hearing.
2) Auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder (ANSD), which refers to a group of disorders resulting from faulty development or loss of the auditory nerve.
3) Auditory processing disorder (APD), which is a difficulty in understanding or remembering what was heard. This difficulty may be present whether the sounds are loud or soft, even if they are clear and of the same intensity level. It can also include problems with memory, learning, attention, or other skills related to language acquisition.
An auditory processing disorder can usually be identified through audiologic testing. If the child has difficulty with specific aspects of processing heard information, this may indicate an auditory processing disorder. The audiologist may use various tests to determine what difficulties are present for the child if any. After a diagnosis of an auditory processing disorder is made, the child should be referred to a speech-language pathologist for specific instruction.
At home to help a child
- Promote good listening skills through audio input from the environment: Listen attentively when your child speaks to you and give verbal feedback such as “uh-huh”, “yes”, or nod your head.
- Ask your child to repeat what you heard them say (e.g., “I want more milk”). This will help them confirm that they are saying what they think they are saying.
- Do not cut your child off while they are speaking; wait until they have finished before responding. This will help your child know that you are listening to what they said and encourage them to continue speaking with you.
- Teach your child how to listen better by modeling good listening behaviors for your child, such as: Sitting facing the speaker or person who is talking. Looking at the person who is speaking.
- Avoiding distractions when you are listening to someone.
When giving instructions, try using gestures or modeling the action before talking. For example, if you need your child to put their shoes on in the morning, show them what you want them to do, then say “shoes” as you point to them. If they ask for clarification, try rephrasing your request:
Child: Where are my shoes?
Parent: Here are your shoes (gestures toward the shoe). Put them on please (pointing to foot).
Reduce background noise when possible. This will make it easier for your child to process the information they are hearing.
Allow enough time in between instructions; this will give your child time to comprehend what they heard and will help avoid distractions.
Play games involving following multi-step instructions, such as Simon Says or Red Light/Green Light.
Activities should be done in the classroom
The SLP should:
Introduce themselves and their role in helping the child with an auditory processing disorder.
Provide plenty of opportunities for the child to interact with peers, as well as adults. This will help promote good listening skills that can be used later on as they mature into adolescents and young adults. Provide frequent opportunities for the student to develop and practice listening skills. Teach and model good social skills, such as proper turn-taking, listening to others, and following directions. Model good communication skills.
Help prepare the child for a new auditory task
Teach your child about the upcoming activity by explaining the task in simple terms. Allow them to ask any questions they may have about what is going to happen.
Model or demonstrate what you want your child to do. Allow them time to explore the task by pretending first so they can learn the steps involved.
Monitor your child’s understanding by asking questions about what is going to happen, then have them re-tell you the steps involved in the activity.