Auditory Processing Disorder (APD, or CAPD for Central Auditory Processing Disorder) is a condition that impacts the ability to process subtle differences in the sounds of words. It’s important to note that APD is not a “hearing” problem. The struggles experienced by children and adults with APD are not caused by the mechanics of how well the ears receive sound but are, in fact, caused by how well the brain processes those sounds.
APD is sometimes difficult to spot because, at first glance, the resulting struggles may be attributed to many causes. For example, a child who struggles to understand a teacher’s verbal directions may do poorly on school assignments, appear to be goofing off, withdraw from interaction, act out in frustration, or experience low self-esteem from feeling that classmates are “smarter” than them because they seem to have a better handle on what is going on. Seeing these signs and behaviors, a teacher or parent might make the assumption that this child is unmotivated, has ADHD, has behavior issues, etc.
In addition, kids and adults with APD often struggle with communication, confusing words that have similar sounds, or mispronouncing words altogether. APD can also interfere with successful reading, as it impacts the skills the brain uses to segment and blend words.
People with weak auditory processing skills can also struggle socially, not grasping verbal directions, demonstrating a lack of confidence, not being able to hear and respond appropriately to conversations, etc.
Noisy environments prove particularly challenging for children and adults with APD. They can also appear to have poor hearing because they frequently ask for things to be repeated or clarified.
As mentioned, some of these behaviors are associated with other conditions. For example, people with attention deficits may also struggle to grasp what they are hearing, but the reason is because they are distracted, not because their brains are struggling to process the words and sounds.
Because of this, diagnosing APD cannot be done by going down a checklist of symptoms. It must be done by an audiologist who administers a series of tests in a sound-treated room.
Options for Children and Adults with Weak Auditory Process Skills
If someone is diagnosed with APD, there are three main courses of action. The first is making changes in the environment, such as creating a quieter place to work or study.
The second course of action involves figuring out how to compensate for the auditory processing deficit by, for example, strengthening attention and other cognitive skills, or learning active-listening techniques.
The third course of action involves taking efforts to strengthen the weak auditory processing skills themselves.
LearningRx is a brain training company that provides mental workouts that strengthen cognitive skills, including auditory processing skills.
LearningRx measures the cognitive skills of all incoming clients, and has found that it is not uncommon to find low auditory processing skills among clients who arrive having been previously diagnosed with some condition or another. The good news is that auditory processing is the skill in which, among this group, we see the largest gains after the completion of a LearningRx brain training program.
LearningRx does not diagnose or treat any medical conditions, including APD. But their work strengthening cognitive skills has gotten dramatic results for past clients with many diagnoses, including APD.
The following chart shows the average improvements of more than 12,000 children and adults who came to LearningRx with some kind of diagnosis.
You can see that, after LearningRx brain training, auditory processing performance improved by an average of 14 standard points among clients with ADHD, memory loss, dyslexia, and autism. Auditory processing improved by even more—an average of 15 standard points—for people with traumatic brain injuries, learning disabilities, and speech and language issues.
(Standard points, by the way, are measured on a 100-point scale from 50 to 150, with 100 considered “average.”)
Pinpointing Weak Skills with a Comprehensive Cognitive Assessment
LearningRx provides a comprehensive cognitive assessment that measures strengths and weaknesses in the following cognitive skills: attention, long- and short-term memory, auditory processing, visual processing, logic & reasoning, and processing speed. This cognitive assessment is not administered for the purpose of diagnosing any condition, but for pinpointing cognitive weaknesses that can then be targeted with brain training exercises. This assessment is a good place to start because, as mentioned, the symptoms of weak auditory processing skills may be shared by other conditions.
Give us a call at one of our centers at (972) 267-8900 to find out more about what we do and to schedule your first assessment.