Recognizing Auditory Processing Disorder
Language is both receptive and expressive. Receptive language pertains to how well we comprehend language. A child with auditory processing disorder (APD) or central auditory processing disorder will have difficulty recognizing small differences in words and causes a difficulty processing what is being said to them.
Symptoms of an Auditory Processing Disorder
The symptoms of APD closely mirror many of the symptoms of ADHD but may include:
- Avoid conversations with friends or family.
- Difficulty with reading or spelling.
- Experience trouble with writing skills.
- Unclear speech, drop word endings or confuse words that are similar.
- Discomfort in noisy settings.
- Distracted or bothered by loud or sudden noises.
Without proper diagnosis, these skills can be challenges that affect them long into adulthood. When APD is properly diagnosed and treated, children can learn to work with the struggles they encounter with APD.
Diagnosing APD can be difficult. It’s important to rule out other conditions such as an ear infection or hearing loss. Since APD can also be misdiagnosed as ADHD or dyslexia, a speech-language pathologist may run tests that will measure their receptive language and listening comprehension skills, in addition to their cognitive abilities.
Both APD and ADHD can have an effect on attention problems. A child may also have ADHD, dyslexia and other conditions but proper screening by an audiologist is necessary to accurately diagnose APD.
Seeking the Right Therapy
There are a number of methods to aid children with APD. A support plan may follow your child into their teenage years as the auditory system isn’t completely developed until around age 15. The support plan should encompass in school and at home accommodations and change as your child’s needs change.
Speech-language pathologists can give training and exercises to build the skills necessary to identify and distinguish between sounds. A speech pathologist will work with your child on developing necessary conversational and listening skills. They may also incorporate one on one or group reading instruction in order to sharpen reading skills. A speech pathologist may also recommend classroom modifications.
APD at Home
While home life can offer a more relaxed setting to contend with APD, there are still some adjustments that you can make for your child.
Provide your child with a quiet, noise-free setting for homework; the less background noise, the better. Teaching your child to move away from settings that become too noisy will help them assess their own needs and take action. An organized lifestyle with set routines can offset disruptive behaviors associated with APD. Giving your child simple, one step tasks and asking them to repeat directions back will strengthen their listening and processing skills.
Working with a teacher and a speech therapist will help determine the best therapy plan for your child.