Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), also known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) is the inability to process what we hear to what we understand. 

It often presents from early childhood. A child’s hearing is rarely impaired and he/she can hear the sounds perfectly, but cannot process the meaning. This can lead to a number of difficulties as the child grows up.

A child with APD may have no problems one day and then have difficulty understanding sounds the next.

Symptoms of APD in children include:

  • Delayed language development

  • Inability to listen effectively

  • Trouble in sequencing the sounds of words

  • Difficulty perceiving high frequency sounds (‘t’, ‘f’ ‘s’, ‘k’, ‘p’, ‘th’, ‘sh’)

  • Confusion when faced with similar sounds

  • Poor comprehension in a noisy environment

  • Easily distracted by irrelevant background sounds

  • Poor speech comprehension, often asking ‘What?’

  • Misunderstanding and poor memory for oral messages

  • Inconsistent responses to the same auditory stimuli

  • Inability to follow directions

  • Difficulty in expressing desires

  • Poor phonemic awareness leading to poor reading, spelling or comprehension

If you notice any of the above signs in your child, visit your audiologist, GP or paediatrician.  

There are a number of types of APD. These include:

  • Associative deficit – difficulty associating sounds with written language

  • Auditory decoding deficit – problems recognising sounds and decoding words or messages

  • Auditory integration deficit – trouble combining sound with other sensory cues that contribute to a message (for example, seeing a written word and knowing what it would sound like when spoken)

  • Organisational deficit – difficulty in organising sound to effectively decode the meaning of a given message

  • Prosodic deficit – speaking in a monotone, without rhythm or intonation, and not perceiving these subtleties in other speakers

  • Auditory hypersensitivity – background sounds cannot be ignored.

Although it cannot be cured, APD can be treated with interventions such as speech therapy, auditory training and phonemic awareness.