“What?” “Huh?” “Sorry, can you repeat that again?” These are questions that may feel all too familiar for people with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). Auditory Processing Disorder, also referred to as Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD), is a condition that principally affects an individual’s ability to to understand speech. Though Auditory Processing Disorder can co-occur with hearing loss, Auditory Processing Disorder is not equivalent to hearing loss, and many people with Auditory Processing Disorder are hearing-abled. Auditory Processing Disorder is a result of issues in the processing of auditory signals in the brain rather than issues in the reception or transmission of signals which can be seen in hearing loss (Healthline 2020).
There are several different subtypes of Auditory Processing Disorder that can influence both speech processing and speech production. Auditory Sensitivity, also known as tolerance fading memory, individuals have an intolerance to background noises (Gemm Learning n.d., ACENTA n.d.). This can result in extreme difficulty understanding in noisy areas as well as impaired memory when listening to instructions. This can often lead to others perceiving those with Auditory Processing Disorder as ignoring or not paying attention to them, or missing important pieces of instruction (Gemm Learning n.d., ACENTA n.d.). In the Auditory Integration subtype, which is seen in most cases of Auditory Processing Disorder, though knowing phonetics individuals may experience difficulty reading and writing and may often need clarification (Gemm Learning n.d., ACENTA n.d.). Issues with the perception of tone and mood may be a challenge for those with the prosodic subtype of Auditory Processing Disorder (Gemm Learning n.d., ACENTA n.d.). In the Decoding subtype, phonetics may be confusing and similar sounding words can often be mistaken for one another. This subtype can additionally influence grammar and spelling (Gemm Learning n.d., ACENTA n.d.). Lastly, in the Organization subtype, the sequencing of words can prove to be difficult to understand (Gemm Learning n.d., ACENTA n.d.). In any of the subtypes, impediment of the ability to complete tasks and assignments are notable consequences of auditory processing impairments.
Auditory Processing Disorder is considered a relatively rare disorder with an estimated prevalence of 3-4% within the general population (Nationwide Children’s Hospital, n.d.). Despite its rarity, Auditory Processing Disorder has an observed high comorbidity in those who have also been diagnosed with neurodivergent orders like Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and Dyslexia. Amongst children tested for learning disabilities, 25% have been estimated to have Auditory Processing Disorder and Dyslexia co-occur (Auditory Processing Center n.d.). ASD has an estimated 9% co-occurrence in children with auditory processing disorder (Palaniyappan et al. 2016) while up 50% of those diagnosed with ADHD may also have Auditory Processing Disorder (Scherer 2021). However, there has been some controversy over the comorbidity of Auditory Processing Disorder and neurodivergent disorders due to the common overlap of symptoms and unknown status exact prevalence within the general population of “true” Auditory Processing Disorder only adds to the difficulty in estimates.
For individuals with Auditory Processing Disorder, daily life may seem incredibly difficult and it may feel like there is a broken link between them and the world. Their inability to understand others, and the inability for others to understand them, can create what feels like persistent plight and disconnect. However, awareness of Auditory Processing Disorder has been increasing and alleviation of symptoms fortunately may be achieved through various methods, including auditory training and compensatory training to enhance skills that can aid in Auditory Processing Disorder Management (Healthline 2020).
APD, Dyslexia or Both?. Auditory Processing Center. (n.d.). https://www.auditorycenter.com/what-is-auditory-processing-disorder/apd-dyslexia-or-both/
Auditory Processing: Auditory Processing Disorder Defined. Arkansas Center for Ear Nose Throat, Allergy and Hearing (ACENTA). (n.d.). https://acenta.com/auditory-processing/
Auditory Processing Disorder. Nationwide Children’s Hospital. (n.d.). https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/conditions/auditory-processing-disorder
Palaniyappan, V., Aisha S. and Swathi C. (2016). Central Auditory Processing Disorder: A Comorbid Condition. Otolaryngology. 1:5-9.
Scherer, P. (2021). “Could Your Child Have Auditory Processing Disorder”. ADDitude.
Types of Auditory Processing Disorder. Gemm Learning. (n.d.). https://www.gemmlearning.com/can-help/central-auditory-processing-disorder/info/types-of-apd/
What is Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). Healthline. (2020). https://www.healthline.com/health/auditory-processing-disorder