Understanding Auditory Processing Disorder in Children

A child with this disorder is unable to fully process and/or understand what someone else is saying. As a result of this disorder, these children cannot readily differentiate between words that sound similar to the ear.

Early diagnosis of this condition is important. If it’s not diagnosed and managed early, a child might be having learning problems at school. Children with APD usually do not have problems in hearing sounds when they are delivered in a sound-treated room and one at a time. Their problems generally occur in a poor listening environment, like in a reverberant room or when there is background noise. These kids can experience trouble comprehending what someone else is saying to them when they are in a noisier place such as a classroom, school cafeteria, playground, etc.

Symptoms of APD can appear in many different forms. If parents think their child may have difficulty in processing sounds, they may try to find out the following.

·Does the child frequently mishear words and sounds?

·Does the child experience difficulties following verbal directions, whether complicated or simple?

·Does the child experience difficulties with phonics or spelling?

·Are there overwhelming noisy environments when the child is trying to listen?

·Does the listening performance and behavior of the child improve in quieter settings?

·Are conversations difficult for the child to follow?

·Are verbal math problems difficult for the child?

However, the symptoms of APD frequently overlap with other disorders such as ADHD and other learning disorders. So, it is best to consult an audiologist, who will be able to diagnose the condition accurately.

Many children with APD are able to develop better listening skills as their auditory system matures. Different strategies can help with listening and better the growth of the auditory pathway as well. The most common two strategies include physical accommodations and individual therapies.

A remote microphone system is one of the most common physical accommodations. It is an assistive listening device that emphasizes someone’s voice over background noise. As the voice becomes clearer, it becomes easier for a child with APD to understand it.

Individual therapies are generally recommended by an audiologist depending on the test results and concerns of a child. There are several computer-assisted programs available that can help a child with APD.

There are also some strategies that parents can try at home. These include lowering background noise whenever possible, speaking with a clear voice and at a slower rate.

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