Auditory Processing Disorder

Does it feel like your child never listens to you? Does he or she have trouble following simple directions? Does he or she get frustrated at the drop of a hat?

You know your child is smart. Yet, he or she doesn’t seem to remember something you told her just a few minutes ago.

Your child could have an Auditory Processing Disorder.

What is Auditory Processing Disorder?

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is a condition that affects how the brain processes speech.  According to the National Coalition of Auditory Processing, when someone has APD there is a breakdown somewhere in the connections between the ear and the brain that affects his or her understanding and use of verbal information. []

The following checklist can help you determine if your child has APD:

  • They have trouble listening and it’s been going on for a while.
  • They seem to mishear you or can’t tell the difference between certain words.
  • They struggle to follow directions more so than other kids.
  • Background noises make it hard for him or her to stay focused even when most people can tune them out.
  • They can’t quite organize thoughts or words, so expressing himself or herself causes frustration for both you.
  • They can’t remember what was just said even when it seemed like he or she was paying attention.
  • Learning to read hasn’t come as naturally as it has for their siblings or friends.

What Causes Auditory Processing Disorder?

You may be surprised to learn that the cause of APD is neurological and not related to hearing! Your child can hear you, but it is hard for him or her to actually listen.

What you say is not sinking in, no matter how hard your child may try. That’s because his or her brain doesn’t process information as it should.

There is no single cause of APD. But, there are a few different reasons why it might develop.  In some cases, APD shows up early in life and was likely born with it.  In other cases, APD developed after something stopped him or her from hearing well for more than a few days. For example, if he or she had chronic ear infections or long periods of “glue ear” (fluid built up behind the eardrum).ADP could also occur after a traumatic event, such as a brain injury or hypoxia (not getting enough oxygen). Research indicates that most individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder have challenges with auditory processing.

[Sirimanna, T. (2016). Auditory processing disorder. Special Educational Needs: A Guide for Inclusive Practice, 97. — available at:]

How is Auditory Processing Disorder evaluated?

An audiologist primarily evaluates and diagnoses an Auditory Processing Disorder using specialized hearing tests that identifies listening problems within  the central nervous system.  At Center for Therapeutic Strategies, we as speech pathologists, screen for auditory processing weaknesses using tools designed by audiologists and speech pathologists in areas that can be re-mediated when specifically activated. These tests look at how well an individual is aware of sounds embedded in other noises, sequences tones and words, discriminates words in various environments, identifies pitch and rhythmic patterns, and understands words and sentences of increasing complexity. We look at how their performance impacts their abilities to remember and learn new information in challenging environments.

How Do We Treat Auditory Processing Disorder

There are numerous methods to treat to APD.

Treatments might be as simple as reducing the impact of background noises or distractions by noising canceling phones.  At school, your child might find it beneficial to sit close to the teacher while limiting extra noises around him. They may get extra help with reading and writing to help him or her learn. These are compensatory strategies that are helpful until his listening system can mature to better handle the world of sound.

Certain therapies often help too.  Music training using percussion and instrumental music with both open air presentations and specialized headphones have shown to be effective for improving awareness of sounds across the sound spectrum as well as identify important messages from the background noise. Moving in synchrony to repetitive sound beats also evidence improvement in training better listening skills. Listening training using these methods has proven effective for many people for increased word discrimination, comprehension, visualization of what you hear, improved executive function skills, reading and writing skills.

Speech and language therapy [link to page] with a focus on auditory processing components can help individuals young and old alike, understand others better and express him or herself more clearly. Better listening and communication skills can reduce frustration and anxiety. Likely, bringing you some much-needed relief.

Together, we can discover the best way to help your child. Get in touch today.

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We are on the cutting edge of speech and language therapy and have been for decades. Our founder, Jane Shook, is world-renowned for her innovative and highly effective approach to treatment.

Jane has developed cross-disciplinary treatments that combine the best approaches from speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. Her strategies also include elements of psychology, social work, art therapy, biomedical treatment, functional neurology, and developmental optometry.

At CTS Dallas we adhere to Jane’s credo that a wise teacher makes learning fun. Our therapists are among the most competent, compassionate, and dedicated in the country.

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