Sometimes, children and adults exhibit classic signs of hearing loss: they do not hear well, or may only understand a portion of what is being said. They experience learning difficulties, particularly in environments with lots of background noise. When multiple people are talking, they lose focus and can’t follow the conversation.
What Is APD?
Parents or an individual may suspect a hearing loss, but in many cases, the cause is a disorder known as Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). An estimated five percent of school-age children suffer from APD, a condition that affects their ability to process information correctly due to a disconnect between what they are hearing and how their brain responds. In adults, approximately 15 percent of military veterans exhibit symptoms of APD and individuals with stroke, traumatic brain injury, epilepsy, and neurologic tumors are susceptible to APD. Older adults with normal hearing may exhibit signs of age-related auditory processing deficits.
Most individuals with APD don’t actually have hearing loss. Studies have shown the majority are able to hear normally in quiet environments; the problem is in the way they process auditory information. Symptoms may range from mild to severe and include difficulty with any of the following:
- Hearing in noisy environments
- Following conversations
- Remembering and/or comprehending spoken information
- Maintaining focus and attention
- Following directions multi-step
- Reading and spelling
- Processing nonverbal information
- Understanding verbal instructions
- Maintaining focus if other sounds are present
How Is APD Diagnosed?
Individuals with APD may become withdrawn, isolated and depressed. Children often become disruptive and may take unnecessary risks or lash out at others. Because many of the behavioral issues closely mimic those associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and other learning disabilities, an incorrect diagnosis is often made.
An audiologist can determine the exact nature of your child’s issues through a routine hearing test, which will rule out any physical hearing problems by testing their ability to hear a range of frequencies. If no hearing loss is present, additional testing to diagnose or rule-out APD may be recommended.
Call Warrior Hearing Center at (816) 592-3575 for more information or to schedule an appointment.