Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory Processing Disorder Test in Anchorage, AK

A common issue that individuals have when they are experiencing hearing loss is struggling to understand speech in the presence of background noise. However, when hearing tests show normal hearing then Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) could be the cause.

Though APD can affect people of all ages, it is most common in school-aged children, and according to the Hearing Health Foundation, about 5% of the U.S. population of school-aged children (2.5 million) experience APD, with some researchers estimating the true impact could be up to 12% of the population.

With early detection and intervention by an auditory processing disorder specialist, children are assured of establishing a strong foundation (phonemic detection abilities, discrimination, identification, and comprehension) on which to build toward higher levels of education and find success in school and the workforce.

APD is often missed because most hearing assessments show normal or near normal hearing, which is why Alaska Hearing and Tinnitus Center provides testing and treatment for auditory processing disorder to both children and adults.

Schedule an APD Treatment

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Dr. Emily E McMahan, Au.D performing auditory processing disorder (APD) test

Defining Auditory Processing Disorder

Sometimes referred to as Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD), APD is related to how the brain processes speech. In essence, the ears and the auditory system function properly but they and the brain do not fully coordinate in order to derive meaning from speech.

APD typically becomes an issue when there is a lot of background noise, multiple conversations at the same time, or the individual is not facing the speaker.

Those experiencing APD struggle to pick up on the subtle differences between words like cat, bat and that, or seventy and seventeen. Additionally, words in a sentence can become scrambled so that “How are the chair and couch alike?” could be interpreted as “How the cow and hair are like?”

Four categories of processing skills that are limited or lacking in those struggling with auditory processing disorder, include:
  • Auditory discrimination: noticing, comparing, and distinguishing between separate sounds
  • Auditory figure-ground discrimination: focusing on the important sounds in a noisy setting
  • Auditory memory: recalling what they heard (short or long term)
  • Auditory sequencing: understanding and recalling the order of sounds and words

Because APD leads most to assume that the person is experiencing hearing loss, when hearing tests are normal, many fail to identify the cause.

Common Questions About Auditory Processing Disorder We Hear

#1 – Who is affected by APD?

Auditory processing disorder is typically associated with development issues, so it is most prominent in school-aged children. Auditory processing disorder can be misdiagnosed as ADHD or vice versa, often occurs along with dyslexia, and is a common secondary diagnosis in individuals with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) or autism.

APD can be experienced by those with hearing loss and those experiencing cognitive decline and is estimated to affect about 15% of military veterans due to blast exposure and neurological disorders from brain injuries (i.e., stroke, traumatic brain injury, tumors, epilepsy).

#2 – What are the symptoms of Auditory Processing Disorder?

Symptoms are similar to those associated with hearing loss, such as difficulty understanding conversations in background noise or often asking people to repeat themselves, but there are additional signs that a person could be experiencing ADP, like:

  • Being easily distracted or confused
  • Struggling to follow multi-step verbal directions
  • Taking longer than normal to respond to verbal questions
  • Difficulty understanding sarcasm or jokes
  • Learning deficiencies (reading delays, dyslexia, difficulty spelling, lower than normal writing skills, difficulty sequencing information)

#3 – How is Auditory Processing Disorder diagnosed?

A comprehensive hearing assessment is the first step in diagnosing APD, which is often followed by a Hearing Handicap Inventory to help understand in what ways a person is struggling and which environments. Parents provide a great deal of input when attempting to diagnose APD in younger children, as do teachers or other adults.

Additional tests that are included in your hearing assessment may also 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 can be conducted on children as young as three but are most often used with children seven-years-old or older. Innovative electrophysiology tests involving noninvasive electrodes to check the body’s response to speech also provide auditory processing disorder specialists with additional information about the central auditory processing system.

What to Expect During Auditory Processing Tests

#1 – Understanding Your Case History

Your case history includes things like age, auditory ability, genetics, and speech concerns, as well as a range of other factors that may contribute toward its development.

#2 – Comprehensive Hearing Assessment

A standard hearing test, where we get you to listen out for sounds and note your response when you hear them, helps us identify or rule out peripheral auditory disorders that affect an individual’s ability to hear and understand background noise.

#3 – An Evaluation of the Central Auditory System

This involves behavioral tests that help evaluate the functional capabilities of the auditory system. The electrophysiologic test assesses the functionality of neural processes in the central auditory pathway and evaluates the integrity of the Central Auditory Nervous System (CANS) from the auditory vestibular nerve to the auditory cortex.

Treatment Options For Auditory Processing Disorder In Anchorage & Eagle River, AK

Treatment for auditory processing disorder typically involves several therapeutic approaches to help the patient to differentiate between sounds and manage their language processing systems.

Auditory training similar to what is used with severe to profound hearing loss, those who are going through a cochlear implant evaluation and treatment, is particularly useful in treating auditory processing disorder, and a hearing device might also help address some specific concerns.

In addition to auditory training, various forms of language therapy may include:

  • Boosting Phonological Awareness Skills
  • The Use of Inference in Speech
  • Vocabulary Enhancement
  • Comprehension Improvement Strategies
  • Social Communication Skills

Both types of therapy provide individuals with APD the compensatory strategies and building blocks to be able to overcome the condition in order to improve school and workplace communication.

Schedule An Assessment

Because APD has similar symptoms to hearing loss, the starting point for addressing your hearing challenges or concerns related to APD is to schedule a comprehensive hearing assessment with a doctor of audiology at Alaska Hearing and Tinnitus Center.

Simply submit the adjacent form so that a member of our team can assist you with scheduling an assessment for you or your child and begin treating APD today.

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