In Learning Disabilities, Syndromes & Disorders

Understanding Auditory Processing Disorder

Understanding Auditory Processing Disorder

Understanding CAPD and APD, Symptoms and Treatments Available

Does your child or someone you know have a difficulty in distinguishing or processing sounds, directions or words during school or other daily activities? If so, this may prove the early stages of an auditory processing disorder (APD) also known as central auditory processing disorder (CAPD). If the auditory process weakens the brain does not break down and process the information properly, being observed through specific types of behavior in the individual.

These disorders affect children and adults, at any age. Impeding the ability to learn and process information correctly due to one (or more) weakened auditory process, which further causes difficulty interacting socially. There are different types of auditory processing. Each process exhibits different difficulties in the individual, when weakness compromises the process.

I think we all agree that learning a new thing is not always easy or controlling our behavior at certain times, can prove challenging. However, there are some people or children that consistently prove learning new things or following directions are too difficult, it proves more than just challenging-it becomes a disorder that only worsens over time, if not diagnosed and treated over time. Below you will find the information to not only understand what Central Auditory Processing Disorder is, you will also find the information to help identify the symptoms to get the necessary treatment by educated professionals.

Types of CAPD or APD

If you feel someone you care for or your child has a difficulty processing and learning new information, it will also help to know there are different types of auditory processing. According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) each type (category) exhibits different difficulties for each area. Furthermore, requiring separate techniques and tactics to overcome the difficulties. Below is a list of the types of auditory processing disorders and the difficulties they bring:

  • Auditory Discrimination-the skill used to identify, compare, and identify the difference of separate sounds in words; this skill is vital for reading comprehension. If this process weakens you will notice difficulty in reading, ability to distinguish different sounds; for example: ninety and nineteen, difficulty following directions, remembering details and the ability to hear but not listen (NCLD pg. 1)
  • Auditory Figure-Ground Discrimination-this skill used to identify important noises or sounds in a background. When this process is then compromised you will notice there is lack of the skill to distinguish any important sounds, in any noisy environment (NCLD pg. 1)
  • Auditory Memory-this skill helps us to remember both, long and short term memories and information. This is more common in older adults but, can affect children to. When this process is not working correctly you will observe difficulty in remembering the names of people you may know or words to a favorite song, memorizing important information; for example: telephone numbers, addresses or directions (NCLD pg. 2)
  • Auditory Sequencing-this skill gives us ability to understand and remember the order of words. If you are observing or having difficulty remembering the order in which instructions are given or confusing numbers, for instance 29 and 92 or confusing the order of lists and other types of sequences or the correct order of instructions given (NCLD pg. 2)

Now that you know the various types of auditory processing disorders and the difficulties that they cause, you can learn some strategies that can help at home or in the class room with each of these disorders and the individuals the suffer from them.Here are some simple things you can do to encourage, aid or instruct a child or adult with auditory processing disorder symptoms.

Strategies for Parents, Care Givers and Teachers

Everyone loves a great tip or two, here is no different-just simple things you can do, if you care or teach a person/child with any of these disorders. Just follow these tips from the NCLD for each disorder:

Auditory Sequencing

  • Use images or hand/body gestures- reinforcing the understanding and enhancing the memory of a list or a sequence
  • Provide written materials for oral instruction

Auditory Memory

  • Written materials for class talks/lectures
  • Encourage note taking
  • Provide visual aids to help when changing information-colored chalk to emphasize importance and hand gestures/sounds to change direction

Auditory Figure- Ground Discrimination

  • Provide seating near audio source-front of class or provide an area at home for TV/video time where the room is smaller
  • Eliminate any background noises if possible

Auditory Discrimination

  • Give student or child one task at a time
  • Talk to individual at a slower pace, taking time to annunciate each word
  • Practice and build on the skills of rhyming, the use of similar sounding words, dissecting words into syllables and compounding them back again
  • Use bells or whistles to constitute change-if the disorder is severe

These tips often used commonly throughout homes, classrooms and learning centers as simple as they may seem, they are very effective in each area of weakness. Further focusing on the weakness to regain the normal process. Although these tips are helpful and proven to work, the best option is get the proper testing and diagnosis with trained health care professionals. Which brings us into our next segment,

  • Eliminate any background noises if possible
  • Auditory Discrimination
  • Give student or child one task at a time
  • Talk to individual at a slower pace, taking time to annunciate each word
  • Practice and build on the skills of rhyming, the use of similar sounding words, dissecting words into syllables and compounding them back again
  • Use bells or whistles to constitute change-if the disorder is severe

These tips are used commonly throughout homes, classrooms and learning centers as simple as they may seem, they are very effective in each area of weakness. Further focusing on the weakness to regain the normal process.

Although these tips are helpful and proven to work, the best option is get the proper testing and diagnosis with trained health care professionals. Which brings us into our next segment, warning signs and getting evaluations for additional support and treatments.

How to Notice the Signs & Getting Treatment

Auditory processing disorder in children (diagnosed at an early age) proposes a lifetime of learning struggles, however recent advances with researchers have proved there are many misconceptions to these disorders (NCLD). Now, children are properly being diagnosed and quickly.

While symptoms will range from severe to mild, each presenting in various forms or ways if you think there is problems processing any type of sound, consider it a processing disorder. (kidshealth.org)

Here are additional warning signs to look for from kidshealth.org, if you are having or think your child is struggling, considering these questions helps:

  • Is the child distracted or bothered easily by loud, sudden sounds and noises?
  • When the child is placed in a noisy environments are they bothered?
  • Is a conversation hard for the child to follow?
  • When abstract information is presented, does it become difficult for the child to comprehend?
  • Do you see improvement in the child’s performance when placed in a quiet setting?

These are just a few questions to consider, it is important to know it helps to attain proper diagnoses and not to get confused with other learning disorders as ADD or ADHD-although closely related they are not the same.

APD is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed due to the fact the behaviors are very similar to those of ADD/ADHD, according to kidshealth.org. It is also possible to have more than one of these disorders, a learning disorder and a processing disorder. Either way, there are therapies and treatments available for all of them individually.

Although there is no real proven cause to these types of disorders, they are found to be linked to chronic ear infections, lead poisoning and head trauma. Due to the possibilities of causes each (even a combination of causes) must be addressed individually.

Auditory processing disorder treatment depends on the testing results, the tests will usually include a speech language pathologist (specialist in speech and language performance) performing a combination of interactive testing. A Audiologist (specialists in hearing disorders) decides the exact disorder with advanced auditory testing and give the diagnosis. In combination, the specialists will create a treatment and therapy according to the individual’s exact processing disorder (kidshealth.org).

Once there is a plan in place, while the child grows they will develop better skills as they work to re-build the weakened areas through speech therapy and routine follow-ups with an audiologist. Just by following a simple auditory processing disorder checklist and the necessary auditory processing disorder test by an audiologist (kidshealth.org). There is a happy ending to all this, it may not seem like as you watch a child or adult struggle to learn the simplest of tasks-there is success to this story!

Can You Hear Me Now? Five Myths about ADP

So, there is a rainbow at the end of this tunnel- children and adults alike to learn to overcome symptoms, strengthen learning and listening skills and build self-confidence! I think that is a great ending to any path of difficulty in learning or auditory process disorders, researchers continue to prove misconceptions wrong and new therapies are developed.

In addition most misconceptions derive from false information or myths based on various opinions. Here are five according to the NCLD that false:

  1. Being hard of hearing is the same as having an auditory processing disorder-in fact people that APD have no hearing loss at all, they hear just fine they just have a tiny interruption in the system (central nervous system) that delays and often scrambles the process-weakening the area.
  2. APD is rare disorder-according to the NCLD a 2009 study concluded that as many as 43% of children diagnosed with a learning disorder, also suffered from a type of auditory processing disorder. They also suggested that there may be many children with undiagnosed APDs.
  3. APD does not make you less intelligent-funny thing, intelligence is based on a test and although these individuals may score lower, their IQ does not have anything to do with it. We know it is the difficulty in the process of distinguishing sounds, directions and the order of things.
  4. Just another name for ADHD-as mentioned earlier some of these symptoms appear similar and children and adults alike diagnosed with APD also have ADHD. The research shows the difference between the two is ADHD sufferers struggle to be attentive in any setting, where APD is centered on issues with auditory processes.
  5. People with APD are inconsiderate and lazy-you may think they are ignoring you or you may hear the incorrect answer for a question they have misheard-it is all normal to them. You may even think they are lazy due to the fact they cannot complete a task or follow orders. In fact this is a known behavior of those that suffer from these disorders, it is not meant as laziness or being rude.

While these disorders can make a person feel left out, misunderstood or not as smart as others-there is so much more to learn and therapies to try. The end is only the beginning for many that suffer from any type of learning disorder. A daily challenge, meet it head on and overcome the obstacles affecting the ability to be all you can be.

There is so much more to learn about these disorders, it just takes everyone working together to overcome the challenges.

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