An auditory processing disorder
(APD) is the inability to attend to, discriminate, recognize or comprehend what
is heard, despite normal hearing and intelligence.
APD is a complex problem.
Humans hear when energy we recognize as sound travels through the ear and is
changed into electrical information that is interpreted by the brain. "Disorder" means something is adversely affecting the processing or
APD is also known as:
The cause is uncertain. Human
communication relies on taking in complicated perceptual information from the
outside world through the senses, and interpreting that information in a
meaningful way. Human communication also requires certain mental abilities such
as attention and memory. Researchers still do not understand exactly how all of
these processes work.
Although your child may hear
normally, they may have difficulty interpreting what they do hear. APD may be
associated with conditions such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorder,
autism, autism spectrum disorder, specific language impairment, pervasive
developmental disorder or developmental delay.
Children with APD typically
have normal hearing and intelligence. However, they may have:
If you suspect your child may
have APD, contact your pediatrician and share your concerns with him or her.
The pediatrician may refer you to a specialist to further evaluate your child.
It is important to rule out the
ability to hear as the problem. An audiologist is the specialist who will rule out hearing
concerns, then conduct a series of tests to determine if an auditory processing
If your child receives a
diagnosis of APD from the audiologist, he/she will be referred to a speech
therapist (speech-language pathologist).
The speech therapist determines
the language areas affected by the auditory processing disorder. The
information provided by the audiologist is crucial to the speech therapist’s assessment
of your child and the recommendation of an appropriate treatment plan.
The outlook for every child is
different depending on a variety of factors. The severity of the disorder, the
cause of the disorder, the child’s age when treatment begins, individual
response to treatment, and the support of parents and teachers all make a
Children with APD typically can
hear information, but have difficulty attending to, storing, locating,
retrieving or clarifying information to make it useful for learning and social
purposes. This can have a negative impact on language acquisition and academic
Once referred by the physician,
the speech therapist evaluates and works with your child on classic language
therapy, targeting the language areas affected by auditory processing.
For example, therapy begins in
a one-to-one, sound-controlled environment and progresses to a more natural sound
Therapy includes having your
child listen and respond to conversation with noise present. Once this skill is
mastered, the therapist has your child listen and respond to conversation with
common background chatter present.
Again, after referred by the
physician, an occupational therapist evaluates and works with your child on a
program called “Therapeutic Listening.” This is an auditory intervention that
uses organized sound patterns in specialized music to impact all levels of the
nervous system. Your child will listen to music through specialized headphones
in the clinic and at home under the direction of the therapist.
A program called “Interactive
Metronome (IM)” also may be used in your child’s treatment. This brain-based
rehabilitation program improves the processing abilities that affect attention,
motor planning and sequencing. Improvements in those areas result in improved
attention, concentration and language processing.
Therapists will help modify your
child’s listening environment at home, in the community and in the classroom.
They will teach compensatory strategies to your child and provide treatment
that will directly remediate the disorder.
Back to Courage Kenny Kids services
Courage Kenny Kids
Sara Rohde, OTR/L, manager, Courage Kenny Kids
A referral is needed from your child's health care provider before therapy can begin. Once your doctor has referred you to the Courage Kenny Kids rehabilitation program, contact one of these locations.
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