Auditory Processing Disorder And Its Types

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Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), also known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD), is a neurological condition that affects the way the brain processes auditory information. 

It is not a problem with hearing itself but rather a difficulty in interpreting and understanding the sounds that the ears receive. 

In addition, research confirms that this disorder affects approximately 5% of school-age children. However, it often goes undiagnosed or misunderstood. 

That’s where BetterHelp steps in. This platform offers numerous licensed therapists to help individuals with Central Auditory Processing Disorder navigate the challenges associated with this condition. 

Furthermore, there are several types of Auditory Processing Disorder, and each has its specific characteristics:

1. Auditory Decoding Deficit: This type of APD involves difficulty in recognizing and identifying specific sounds, particularly speech sounds. 

People with this type of APD may struggle to distinguish between similar-sounding words or have trouble understanding speech in noisy environments.

2. Auditory Integration Deficit: Individuals with this type of APD have difficulties integrating or combining different sounds into a meaningful whole. 

They may have trouble following spoken instructions or understanding the overall meaning of a sentence.

3. Auditory Organization Deficit: This type of APD involves problems with organizing and sequencing auditory information. 

People with this condition may struggle to follow multi-step instructions or have difficulties with tasks that require remembering and processing data in a specific order.

4. Auditory Blending Deficit: This type of APD is characterized by difficulties in blending individual sounds to form words or syllables. 

People with this condition may have trouble with phonemic awareness, which can impact reading and spelling abilities.

5. Auditory Memory Deficit: Individuals with this type of APD have difficulties remembering and recalling auditory information, particularly over longer periods. 

They may struggle with following conversations or remembering verbal instructions.

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) results from a combination of neurological, hereditary, and developmental factors, complicating its precise etiology. 

Primarily, neurological anomalies disrupt the development or functionality of auditory pathways in the brain, impacting regions responsible for processing auditory stimuli and contributing to APD symptoms. 

Additionally, hereditary predispositions suggest a genetic influence, with familial patterns indicating a complex inheritance model. 

Developmental factors, including disruptions during critical periods of auditory system maturation, such as fetal development or early childhood, further influence APD onset. 

Furthermore, acquired factors such as head injuries, neurological conditions, or exposure to toxins or medications can induce APD symptoms in previously unaffected individuals. 

Importantly, APD often coexists with other conditions like ADHD, learning disabilities, or language disorders, underscoring the need for customized interventions to address the multifaceted challenges of auditory processing.

Signs & Symptoms

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) presents with various telltale signs, notably difficulty comprehending speech, especially in noisy environments or amidst multiple speakers. 

Individuals with APD often struggle to follow conversations, discern crucial details, or differentiate similar-sounding words. 

Additionally, they may find it challenging to process multi-step instructions or recall auditory information, leading to apparent inattentiveness or forgetfulness, particularly in children. 

This difficulty extends to tasks requiring phonological awareness, such as reading and spelling, and may include issues with auditory discrimination and localization. 

Some individuals may also experience hypersensitivity to certain sounds or loud noises.

Moreover, APD can impact language comprehension, with affected individuals finding it challenging to understand complex grammatical structures or abstract language. 

This can be compounded by limitations in vocabulary and word retrieval skills, hindering effective verbal expression. 

Furthermore, difficulties in musical perception and appreciation may accompany APD, affecting one’s ability to discern musical nuances or participate fully in musical activities.

How is it Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of Auditory Processing Disorder typically involves a comprehensive evaluation by a team of professionals, including an audiologist, a speech-language pathologist, and sometimes a psychologist or neuropsychologist

The process begins with a thorough medical and developmental history, as well as an assessment of the individual’s listening skills, language abilities, and cognitive functioning.

Diagnostic evaluation for Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) typically involves specialized auditory processing tests designed to assess various facets of auditory perception. 

These tests encompass tasks like word repetition, sound identification, and following auditory directions to evaluate auditory discrimination, memory, sequencing, and integration skills. 

Additionally, a comprehensive hearing assessment, including pure-tone audiometry and speech audiometry, is conducted to rule out any underlying hearing impairment or ear-related issues contributing to the individual’s difficulties.

Furthermore, a speech and language evaluation forms a crucial part of the diagnostic process. 

This assessment, conducted by a speech-language pathologist, examines the individual’s receptive and expressive language abilities, comprehension skills, and language usage across different contexts.  

Auditory Processing Disorder Occupational Therapy: How It Helps?

child learning

Occupational therapy for auditory processing disorder focuses on addressing the sensory and cognitive aspects of the condition to improve the individual’s ability to process auditory information effectively. 

This therapy aims to enhance the individual’s auditory pathway growth and improve their ability to recognize and interpret sounds, ultimately helping them overcome the challenges associated with APD.

1. Occupational Therapy Techniques:

Occupational therapists use various techniques to address auditory processing difficulties.

These may include individualized therapies recommended by audiologists based on test results and concerns, as well as computer-assisted programs designed specifically for children with APD. 

These therapies are tailored to improve listening comprehension, auditory discrimination, auditory figure-ground, comprehension, and auditory memory. 

Additionally, occupational therapists may employ sensory integration therapy to improve the way the nervous system registers, integrates, and processes sensory input, which can include specific techniques to support the development of the inner ear’s ability to filter and dampen sound.

2. Collaboration with Other Professionals:

Occupational therapists often collaborate with speech-language pathologists to address auditory processing disorders, as these disorders are integrally related to vestibular (balance), cognitive, language, auditory, and sensory system functioning. 

This collaborative approach involves a proactive effort from both schools and parents to help children compensate, learn, and retrain their brains, ultimately supporting their academic success.

3. Impact on Daily Activity ties:

Auditory processing difficulties can significantly impact a child’s day-to-day activities. 

Occupational therapists work with the child’s team to implement strategies that facilitate progress, such as targeting auditory memory and engaging in computer games designed to improve auditory processing skills. 

These strategies aim to help children with APD overcome challenges related to auditory memory deficits, auditory attention problems, and sound sensitivity, which are common in individuals with APD.

Finally, it’s crucial to note that Auditory Processing Disorder Occupational Therapy is an ongoing process that may require regular sessions over an extended period. 

The therapist will continuously assess the individual’s progress and adjust the intervention strategies as needed. 

With consistent and tailored therapy, many individuals with APD can develop improved auditory processing skills and enhance their ability to participate in daily activities and achieve their goals.

4. What is the Duration of the Program?

The duration of an Auditory Processing Disorder Occupational Therapy program can vary depending on several factors, such as the individual’s age, severity of the disorder, and specific needs. 

For most individuals with Auditory Processing Disorder, Occupational Therapy is not a short-term intervention. 

It often requires a long-term commitment, as developing and strengthening auditory processing skills takes time and consistent practice. 

Many experts recommend a minimum of one year of therapy, but the duration can extend to several years, depending on the individual’s progress and response to the interventions.

Likewise, the frequency of therapy sessions can impact the overall duration of the program. 

Typically, Occupational Therapy for APD is provided on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, with each session lasting between 30 minutes to an hour. 

More frequent sessions, such as twice or three times per week, may be recommended for individuals with more severe deficits or those who require intensive intervention.

For children, early intervention is crucial, as their brains are more plastic and responsive to therapy during the critical periods of auditory and language development. 

On the other hand, the therapy duration for adults with Auditory Processing Disorder may be more variable, depending on factors such as the underlying cause of the disorder (e.g., acquired brain injury, neurological condition), the severity of the deficits, and the individual’s motivation and commitment to the therapy process. 

Therapeutic Listening: Issues That it Can Help With

child counselling

Therapeutic Listening is particularly beneficial for individuals who experience auditory hypersensitivity or auditory defensiveness. 

These conditions involve an over-sensitivity or adverse reaction to certain sounds or noise levels. 

Also, individuals with Auditory Processing Disorder often struggle with auditory discrimination, which is the ability to distinguish between similar-sounding speech sounds or environmental noises. 

Therapeutic Listening can help improve auditory discrimination skills by exposing the individual to various sound frequencies and patterns, gradually increasing in complexity.

In addition, auditory attention and focus are common areas of difficulty for those with APD. 

Therapeutic Listening can help improve these skills by incorporating engaging and motivating musical activities that require sustained attention and focus. 

As the individual learns to attend to the auditory stimuli presented through the modulated music, they can develop better auditory attention and concentration, which can then translate to improved listening and comprehension in real-world situations.

For individuals with APD who also experience challenges with sensory integration or sensory modulation, Therapeutic Listening can be a valuable tool. 

The combination of auditory input and specific movements or activities can help facilitate better integration and regulation of sensory information from multiple modalities (auditory, visual, vestibular, and proprioceptive). 

This can lead to improved self-regulation, focus, and overall sensory processing abilities.

Ways Parents and Teachers Can Support Children Both at Home and in School

Parents can help their children develop effective communication strategies, such as making eye contact, facing the speaker, and asking for clarification when needed. 

Practicing these skills during everyday conversations and activities can reinforce their use and promote better understanding.

Engaging the child in activities that promote auditory memory and sequencing skills, such as repeating multi-step instructions, reciting nursery rhymes, or following recipes, can also be beneficial. 

Parents can gradually increase the complexity of these tasks as the child’s skills improve. 

Besides, parents can work with the child’s therapist to incorporate home-based exercises and activities that reinforce the techniques and strategies learned during therapy sessions. 

Consistency and practice are key to helping the child generalize these skills to different environments.

Also, teachers can provide written or visual outlines, summaries, or key points to supplement auditory information presented during lessons. 

This can help children with APD better comprehend and retain the material. 

Allowing children with APD to use assistive technology, such as digital recorders or note-taking apps, can alleviate the burden of trying to process auditory information and take notes simultaneously.

Moreover, teachers can encourage peer support and foster an inclusive classroom environment by educating classmates about APD and its impact on learning. 

This can promote understanding and reduce potential social isolation or frustration.

Overall, regular communication and collaboration between parents, teachers, and therapy professionals are crucial to ensuring consistent strategies and approaches across all settings. 

Meanwhile, locating an occupational therapist for auditory processing disorder isn’t just about finding any therapist; it’s about finding the right fit for your specific needs and preferences. 

BetterHelp offers a platform where you can browse through a diverse pool of licensed and professional occupational therapists who specialize in auditory processing disorders.


How can I improve my auditory processing skills?

Auditory processing skills can be improved through various methods, including speech-language therapy and educational therapy. 

Can OT treat sensory processing disorder?

Occupational therapy (OT) can treat sensory processing disorder (SPD). OT focuses on activities that improve listening and concentration, known as auditory training.
It may also involve reducing background noise and using wireless earpieces to help individuals with SPD. 

What is the role of occupational therapy in hearing impairment?

Occupational therapy plays a role in addressing hearing impairment by focusing on auditory training to improve listening and concentration. 

Do speech therapists treat auditory processing disorder?

Speech therapists can treat auditory processing disorder by helping individuals recognize sounds and improve conversational skills.
Therapy includes a wide variety of exercises that target specific auditory deficits and may range from computer-assisted software programs to one-on-one training with a speech and language therapist. 

Emma Loker

I attribute my extensive knowledge to a 1st Class Honours degree in Psychology and my current studies to become a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist at the University of Cambridge.


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