How common is APD?
It is estimated that 3-5% of all children have APD. It is found twice as often in boys than in girls.
What causes APD?
Auditory processing disorder can be congenital (sufferers have it from birth) or acquired. It may result from prolonged middle ear infections and head injuries that cause difficulties with the central nervous system, affecting the processing of auditory information. The underlying causes of APD however remain unknown.
What are the characteristics of people with APD?
People with APD struggle with one or more of the following:
- Sound localization: it may be difficult for an APD sufferer to say whether a sound is coming from the left, the right, or the centre.
- Sound discrimination: it may be difficult for them to hear the difference between pat / bat / fat / hat.
- Pattern recognition: it may be difficult for them to hear the different emphasis between sentences like these:
I want to drive to New York tomorrow (i.e. the speaker really prefers to drive rather than fly)
I want to drive to New York tomorrow (i.e. the speaker really does not want to travel today)
- Temporal aspects of listening: it may be difficult for APD sufferers to hear the difference between lemonade and menolade, star and tsar, reserve and reverse etc.
- Speech understanding in the presence of background noise: although in quiet situations APD sufferers usually have no problems, background noise can pose a real challenge. This problem can, for example, hinder learning in school, and/or cause sufferers difficulties in social and/or group situations.
People with APD have trouble paying attention to and remembering information that is presented orally (spoken); instead they cope better with visually acquired information. They often have problems following spoken, multi-step directions, as they prefer to hear only one command at a time.
APD sufferers can appear to have poor listening skills, almost like they have a hearing loss. They can also appear to be slow in processing information and might avoid locations with background or loud noise such as restaurants, movie theatres and other social situations. They may also display behavioral problems.
APD diagnosis and therapy
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