Auditory Processing Disorder Assessments based in Lavonia, Loganville and Watkinsville, GA

Are you aware that your hearing can be normal or near normal, but you still struggle to make sense of what you’ve heard?

It sounds a little strange, but there are many people with normal hearing who struggle with the same challenges of understanding speech in noisy environments, misunderstand certain words, and struggle with other conditions that are almost identical to the symptoms of hearing loss.

If your hearing tests normal, but you’re struggling with these symptoms, the cause could be Auditory Processing Disorder (APD).

APD can affect people of all ages, but it is most common in school-aged children, according to the Hearing Health Foundation. The condition has been diagnosed in about 5% of the US population of school-aged children (2.5 million), but some researchers estimate the true impact could be up to 12% of the population.

As with hearing loss, early detection and intervention are essential to ensuring that your children have a solid developmental foundation (phonemic detection abilities, discrimination, identification, and comprehension) on which to build their education, and later, their career.

APD is often missed because hearing assessments show normal or near normal hearing. Hearing & Balance Clinics takes the extra step to ensure that we’re covering all the bases when it comes to determining the reason behind the hearing challenges you or your child is experiencing.

A Young Child Undergoing an APD Test at Hearing & Balance Clinics

Let’s Understand Auditory Processing Disorder

APD, sometimes called Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD), involves how your brain processes speech after your ears and your auditory system have functioned properly, delivering the sound signals to your brain.

If you or your child has APD, you will usually notice that you struggle to understand conversations in environments with a lot of background noise, when multiple conversations are taking place at the same time, or when you’re not facing the person who is speaking.

You might struggle to pick up on the subtle differences between words like cat, bat, and that, or numbers like seventy/seventeen or fifty/fifteen. With APD, you might also scramble various words in a sentence, so rather than “How are the chair and couch alike?” your brain might interpret what you heard as “How the cow and hair are like?”

Researchers have placed the processing skills that are limited or lacking in those struggling with auditory processing disorder into four categories:

Auditory Discrimination:

Challenges with recognizing, comparing, and distinguishing between different sounds.

Auditory Figure-Ground Discrimination:

Difficulty focusing on speech sounds in a noisy setting or the speech sounds of a specific speaker when multiple conversations take place.

Auditory Memory:

A reduced capacity to recall what you’ve heard (short or long term).

Auditory Sequencing:

Struggling to understand and recall the order of sounds and words.

APD in Children

You probably recognize how any or several of the APD issues in the list above can have a significant effect on your child’s success in school, in social settings, and in their future career.

Auditory processing disorder is often mistaken for or linked to other development issues. It is sometimes misdiagnosed as ADHD or vice versa, often occurs along with dyslexia, and can be a secondary diagnosis in individuals with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) or autism.

APD in Adults

Adults with a hearing loss and those experiencing cognitive decline can also struggle with APD.

In addition, neurological disorders from brain injuries from stroke, traumatic brain injury, tumors, epilepsy, and others often lead to APD. It is estimated to affect about 15% of military veterans affected to blast exposure.

Some Common Symptoms of Auditory Processing Disorder

Symptoms are like those associated with hearing loss, but there are additional signs that you need to be aware of, such as:

Tending to be easily distracted or confused

Difficulty following multi-step verbal directions

Needing additional time to respond to verbal questions

Struggling to understand sarcasm or jokes

Demonstrating various learning deficiencies (reading delays, dyslexia, difficulty spelling, lower than normal writing skills, difficulty sequencing information)

How APD Is Diagnosed

A comprehensive hearing assessment is the first step in diagnosing APD because it is necessary to rule out hearing loss as the cause for the difficulty you or your child is having.

If it is your child struggling with APD, you along with teachers and other adults provide a great deal of much needed input when working toward a diagnosis of APD in younger children or in older adults.

In addition to a hearing evaluation, an APD assessment may include:

Auditory Figure-Ground Testing (speech understanding with background noise)
Auditory Closure Testing (the capacity to “fill in the gaps” of speech)
Dichotic Listening Testing (ability to understand meaningful speech that happens simultaneously)
Temporal Processing Testing (capacity to distinguish between similar speech sounds like “mat” and “pat”)
Binaural Interaction Testing (ability to identify the direction of sounds and localizing them in a room)

These tests may be used with children as young as three but most often with children seven years old and above.

Electrophysiology tests, which involve the use of non-invasive electrodes to check the body’s response to speech, are an innovation used by auditory processing disorder specialists to gain additional insight into the function of the brain’s central auditory processing system.

What Our 4 Part APD Assessments Involve

A Case History Discussion

Your age, auditory ability, genetics, and speech concerns as well as a range of other factors that may contribute toward the development of APD will be discussed as part of your case history. If you are an adult, it is a good idea to bring someone who is well-acquainted with you and your history to assist in answering questions and providing input into this conversation.

Comprehensive Hearing Assessment

You can expect to undergo a standard hearing test, which is used to help identify or rule out peripheral auditory disorders that prevent you from being able to hear and understand conversations when there is background noise.

An Evaluation of the Central Auditory System

Evaluating the functional capabilities of the auditory system involves various behavioral tests, like those mentioned above. Electrophysiologic testing may be used to evaluate the functionality of neural processes in the central auditory pathway as well as determine the integrity of the central auditory nervous system (CANS) from the auditory vestibular nerve to the auditory cortex.

A Discussion of Your Results

Once your testing is complete, your audiologist will go over your test results, or those of your child, explaining what they mean and how they are contributing to APD symptoms. During this discussion, you will also be advised of the treatment options that are available to help limit the effect of APD on your life and lifestyle.

Common Treatment Options for Auditory Processing Disorder

The objective of APD treatment is to help you or your child differentiate between sounds and manage language processing systems.

Auditory training, like what is used with severe to profound hearing loss and cochlear implant treatment, is useful in the treatment of APD. In addition to auditory training, different types of language therapy may also be used, such as:

  • Boosting Phonological Awareness Skills
  • The Use of Inference in Speech
  • Vocabulary Enhancement
  • Comprehension Improvement Strategies
  • Social Communication Skills
A Young Child Undergoing an APD Test at Hearing & Balance Clinics
These therapies provide compensatory strategies and building blocks to be able to overcome the condition to improve school and workplace communication.

Schedule a Hearing Evaluation

APD is often misdiagnosed as hearing loss because the symptoms are very similar. Consequently, the starting point for addressing your hearing challenges, or those of your child, is a hearing evaluation with a doctor of audiology at the Hearing & Balance Clinics location nearest you.

Simply submit the adjacent form for you or your child, and a member of our team will call you back to help you schedule an evaluation.

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