Auditory processing disorder is a type of hearing loss, but not the typical kind of hearing loss we think of. Those who have auditory processing disorders have normal hearing capabilities, but the part of the brain that processes auditory information is impaired; it affects the brain’s ability to process and interpret sounds.
People of any age can have this disorder, but it’s typically diagnosed during childhood and is considered a lifelong condition. About 5% of school-aged children have an auditory processing disorder. It is commonly seen overlapping with ADHD and ADD. A hearing consultation may be necessary to determine the extent of several symptoms. Below we discuss the common signs, causes, diagnoses and treatment.
The symptoms of auditory processing disorder impact listening and communication. It can make both school and work difficult. Individuals with this disorder experience difficulties in areas of auditory skill, those being auditory discrimination (unable to distinguish sounds), auditory figure-ground discrimination (unable to focus on one specific sound), auditory memory (unable to recall short-term information) and auditory sequencing (unable to remember the order of words).
Signs you or a loved one may have this disorder include difficulty hearing conversations in noisy environments, a hard time understanding strong accents and fast talkers, asking for information to be repeated and problems finding the source of a sound. Symptoms that match up with ADHD and ADD are poor listening skills, difficulty following directions, a hard time paying attention andstruggling when learning to read and spell.
The causes of auditory processing disorder are either developmental or acquired. Developmental causes happen early on when there is a delay in the maturation of the central auditory nervous system. Acquired causes come from things such as a brain injury, a severe ear infection, meningitis, multiple sclerosis, heavy lead exposure, a premature birth, low birth weight or genes running within the family.
Hearing specialists are the only ones who can diagnose auditory processing disorder. An audiologist will complete a hearing test to examine your auditory discrimination, processing, attention and memory. You will likely listen to different tones and determine if you’re hearing high or low frequencies, and listen to an audio clipping and repeat back what you heard.
An ear specialist will be able to rule out another cause of hearing loss or a different condition causing what you’re experiencing. If your child is experiencing symptoms, it’s recommended to wait until they’re seven years old as the cognitive functions of the brain are still developing. If you are diagnosed with auditory processing disorder, the audiologist can help with a treatment plan.
Visit us for a hearing consultation
Although there is no cure for auditory processing disorder, there are certain things that can help. Different activities can be done to improve listening and concentration. During your hearing consultation, we can work on auditory training and show you ways to improve throughout time. You can also talk face to face, use pictures and text, rephrase things,and reduce room noise to help with this disorder. If you have any questions or concerns, contact us today!