Auditory Processing Disorder
“It’s been estimated that 2 to 5 percent of children have it (auditory processing disorder),” said Gail D. Chermak, an expert on speech and hearing sciences at Washington State University, “and it’s likely that many cases have gone undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.”
Diagnosis and Treatment
Auditory Processing Disorder can be described as how your brain interprets what your ears take in. Auditory Processing Testing involves a battery of tests designed to determine how a person listens (or hears) in difficult listening situations, such as a classroom.
The first part of this process establishes that a patient’s hearing is normal in a quiet environment through conventional hearing testing techniques; then, the auditory processing assessment can begin.
In order to do this, the patient’s ability to hear is evaluated by mimicking challenging environments in a variety of ways, such as adding noise and requiring the patient to repeat back sentences or words that are presented in various ways. This is done through a series of tests (breaks can be provided between assessments, especially for younger patients).
A Full Assessment
A full assessment takes between one and one-half to two hours. Children need to be at least seven years of age to be tested. This is because of normal variations in auditory and language skills in younger children.
Other Cognitive Issues
Other disorders, such as autism or ADD, can also cause listening and interpretation problems; however, these problems are not auditory processing disorders, but are due to the underlying attention deficit or other concerns. Auditory processing can coexist with other cognitive issues, and determining auditory strength and weaknesses may be helpful in understanding your child, his or her performance in the classroom, and how to help him or her.
Once it is established that auditory processing is a significant challenge, recommendations can be made to help compensate for and improve the weak auditory skills. The goal is to have treatment recommendations that make a difference in the life of the patient with APD. More information can be found via these articles on auditory processing and also at The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.