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Auditory Processing Disorder - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Published on Mar 22, 2022   -  4 min read


Auditory processing disorder is a type of learning disability where the brain does not properly interpret what the ears hear. Read below to know more about it.



Auditory processing disorder or APD is the term used to refer to a hearing condition where the brain experiences difficulty in processing sound. This might occur at any age and affect the individual's understanding level because they cannot interpret what others say or realize the accurate sounds surrounding them.

What Is Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)?

Hearing is not a simple process because sound waves from the environment travel into the ears and they are converted into vibrations in the middle ear. These vibrations then enter the inner ear, where the sensory cells create electrical signals that travel to the brain through the auditory nerve. These signals are analyzed and processed into sounds in the brain.

People who have an auditory processing disorder will have a problem with the above-mentioned process. Their brains do not function to interpret the sounds captured by the ear. Hence, normal hearing function is affected. But, this should not be considered as a hearing loss or learning disorder because the ears function well in capturing the sounds and carrying those signals to the brain.

It is often seen in childhood, and it is more likely to develop in boys when compared to girls. However, it could also develop in the later stages of life. Such children will face a delay in grasping things than ordinary children. They must be given extra care from parents and teachers.

This disorder is also known as a central auditory processing disorder, and it does not occur as a result of some other conditions such as autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. But in some cases, auditory processing disorder could occur along with these conditions.

What Causes Auditory Processing Disorder?

The exact cause of auditory processing disorder (APD) is not known, but they may be linked to the following conditions:

What Are the Clinical Signs of Auditory Processing Disorder?

The symptoms of auditory processing disorder are:

The above symptoms indicate that people with APD have difficulty in hearing. It affects the way they speak, read, write and spell. They mix up the words, especially when presented verbally, and they find it hard to talk with other people or to come up with a quick response.

How Is Auditory Processing Disorder Diagnosed?

Auditory processing disorder does not have a specific diagnosis. It is normally started with a complete medical history, and this helps to evaluate the other symptoms and checks for any risk factors.

1) Multidisciplinary Approach:

Auditory processing disorder can occur along with multiple conditions, so a multidisciplinary approach is followed to make a diagnosis. This helps the healthcare provider to rule out the potential causes of auditory processing disorder. For example, a variety of hearing tests are conducted by an audiologist, cognitive functioning is checked by a psychologist, the speech-language therapist assesses the oral and written communication skills, and feedback on learning challenges is offered by teachers.

2) Assessment Tests:

With the help of information from the multidisciplinary team from the tests they have performed, the audiologist will come to a diagnosis. Examples of tests that would be performed are:

How Is Auditory Processing Disorder Treated?

Till now, there is no cure for auditory processing disorder, and the treatment differs for each person depending upon the intensity of APD. Normally, the treatment will focus on the following areas:

1) Teachers Support - In order to make the child hear the teacher more clearly, electronic devices such as frequency modulation can be given. To avoid the background noises from causing distraction, the teacher should suggest the child get seated at the front desk to help seek more attention.

2) Other Learning Skills - Help the child with things such as memory problem solving and other extracurricular activities to deal with APD.

3) Speech Therapy - It helps the child to make a difference with the sounds and improves the conversation skills.

4) Reading Support - Make the child read under supervision, this can improve the focus on specific areas where the child faces trouble.


In addition to helping the child with auditory processing disorder, making some changes in the home, such as limiting the volume of the television, radio and covering floors with rugs to reduce echos would benefit the child.

Last reviewed at:
22 Mar 2022  -  4 min read




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