What is APD Disorder? APD refers to Auditory Processing Disorder, a neurological condition that affects the way the brain processes auditory information. Although affected individuals can hear sounds, the brain is unable to process the information in the normal way, which causes problems in the interpretation and recognition of sounds, and in particular, speech.
People with APD have problems recognizing the subtle differences between sounds because their brain and ears are not co-ordinated in the normal way: the easiest way to picture the problem is to see it as a faulty piece of wiring between the two components.
What is APD disorder and what causes it?
In some cases APD is a genetic problem, but in other cases it is caused by ear infections, head injuries, or any delay in a child’s development that affects the processing of auditory information.
What are the symptoms of auditory processing disorder?
There are many different symptoms linked to auditory processing disorder and children with the condition will normally display a number of symptoms including:
- Poor listening skills
- Have problems carrying out multi-step oral instructions
- Have problems taking in and remembering information presented orally and find it easier to process visual information
- Low academic performance
- Behavioral problems
- Language difficulties
- Difficulties with reading, spelling, comprehension and vocabulary
Other recognized symptoms of auditory processing disorder include problems processing oral information when there is lots of background noise. If the condition has not been detected for a long time, the patient will often have severe difficulties with interpersonal relationships due to communication problems and a lack of understanding when somebody is trying to talk to them. Patients often become withdrawn and avoid social situations as a result.
Children with APD can exhibit all kinds of different behaviors as a result of auditory processing disorder. Because they will have a problem mishearing or making sense or oral messages, they are quite likely to become isolated and even bullied by their peers. Teachers might notice the child has a problem with oral and written expression as well as the organization of verbal material.
Pre-school children will probably have difficulties with the pronunciation of words, rhyming words, learning numbers, colours, shapes, etc. They will also speak later than other children. Older children will have difficulties learning to read and be slow to learn the connection between letters and sounds.
How is auditory processing disorder diagnosed?
APD is quite difficult to diagnose in children and adults and the symptoms of the disorder are very similar to (and therefore quite frequently mistaken for) ADD/ADHD and different forms of autism. One of the biggest problems of APD is that patients are so used to guessing what they are listening to, they very often do not realize the extent to which they have misunderstood something.
What treatments for APD are available?
Research into the effects of auditory processing disorder is still very much in the early stages and different patients will require different treatments, but there are several strategies available to help children and adults overcome the difficulties caused by APD including various environmental modifications, auditory memory enhancement, and auditory integration training therapies.