I’ve seen a significant increase in awareness regarding auditory processing disorder (APD), but like many other neurological disorders, there’s so many misconceptions and misinformation about APD. APD may affect between 5 - 7% of school aged children. A study in 2009 concluded that 43% of children with learning disabilities also had APD, so it may be more common than many individuals think.
People don’t quite know what exactly APD is, what it isn’t, and how it can be treated. So, in order to clear up some of the confusion, here are five things that you should know about APD.
1. APD is an auditory deficit that’s not the result of a higher-order cognitive, language or related disorder. It is caused by a specific auditory dysfunction. Therefore, we have to determine whether your child has problems accessing or using auditory information because of an attention deficit (ADHD) or because of an actual, neural processing of auditory input.
2. Not all language and learning problems are due to APD, and not all cases of APD leads to language and learning problems.
3. A multidisciplinary team approach is necessary to properly assess and understand a child’s APD symptom. For example, a teacher may shed light on academic difficulties, a psychologist may evaluate cognitive functioning, a speech-language pathologist can help you understand written and oral language, speech and related capabilities and more.
4. There is no one-shoe-size-fits-all treatment. One specific therapy approach may help another child, but not your own – the trick is to find the right treatment for your child. However, APD treatment generally focuses on three things: changing the learning/communication environment, recruiting higher-order skills to help compensate for the disorder and remediation of the auditory deficit itself.
5. With appropriate intervention, all children with APD can improve – there is always light at the end of the tunnel!
You can use asha.org to find an audiologist in your area, or you can call the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) at 1-800-638-8255.