Auditory system has the ability to differentiate between fine differences in frequencies and other auditory skills, which are a pre-requisite for language development, and for the processing of all auditory information. Difficulties in processing sound to its full potential can manifest themselves auditory processing difficulties, poor auditory attention, poor short term auditory memory skills and other difficulties such as learning difficulties, including poor reading and spelling, poor communication skills, poor co-ordination and balance, and difficulties with sensory integration.
Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) describes the inability to process the meaning of sound. This condition is often present from early childhood, leading to a number of difficulties as the child becomes older and messages become complex and are given more quickly.
APD is also known by the following names: central auditory processing disorder – CAPD, auditory perceptual processing dysfunction, auditory comprehension deficit, central deafness or word deafness.
APD is a problem in the auditory decoding of language, which very often leads to the deterioration of behaviour as a result of poor expressive and receptive communication. As children experience the discouragement of being misunderstood and the frustration of misunderstanding others, they become more disconnected from their environment and the people around them.
Many other conditions in children are made worse by an accompanying auditory processing disorder. Children who have autism, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, language problems, aphasia or learning disabilities often have concurrent problems with auditory processing.
The term ‘auditory overload’ is often used to describe what happens to people who have APD. Auditory overload is a sense of being overwhelmed and relates to features of the information being received. If information is highly specific, spoken quickly, lacking in contextual cues, described in unfamiliar language or presented in a noisy environment, it will be very difficult for someone with APD to comprehend the message or follow through with instructions.
The indicators of Auditory Processing Disorder
Children with APD will display some or all of the following signs:
* Delayed language development
* Inability to listen effectively
* Trouble in sequencing the sounds of words
* Difficulty perceiving high frequency sounds: ‘t’, ‘f’ ‘s’, ‘k’, ‘p’, ‘th’, ‘sh’
* Confusion when faced with similar sounds: eg. ‘da’ and ‘ba’
* Extremely poor comprehension in a noisy environment
* High distractibility, with short attention span
* Poor speech comprehension, often asking ‘What?’
* Misunderstanding and poor memory for oral messages
* Inconsistent responses to the same auditory stimuli
* Inability to follow directions
* Difficulty in expressing desires, often blaming the other person for not understanding
* Academic problems, particularly in spelling, reading or comprehension
* Behaviour problems
* Social difficulties