Auditory Processing Disorder
An Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), also known as a Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD), is an umbrella term describing a variety of disorders that affect the brain's ability to process auditory information. APD is difficult to identify, but is traditionally diagnosed through tests designed to identify symptoms of APD. An evaluation is sought when a patient has an intermittent ability to process verbal information or an immense trouble decoding speech in a noisy environment. APD is estimated to occur within 2-3 percent of children. It's prevalence is estimated to be around 10-20 percent of adults.
Testing for APD: APD has been identified on an anatomical level, via the integrity of the auditory areas of the nervous system. However, it's often the case that children do not exhibit evidence of this neurological disease. Instead, the diagnosis of APD can be determined via auditory tests. Tests for APD cannot be the standard hearing tests. Often times, it's necessary to engage the patients with more complex sounds that emulate everyday life.
It's not always easy to identify the reasons behind a patient's poor performance on an APD test. A number of other factors could be contributing to the results. For example, poor results could be due to lack of attention or memory disorders.
Furthermore, it could be that APD will not reveal itself until academic tasks require greater listening attention.
Treating APD: Audiologists and teachers work cooperatively to find ways to help patients. Their methods are generally based on their patient's specific needs. For example, a patient with trouble hearing in noisy crowds may be taught how to balance and interpret non-verbal cues. It may require an entire team to come up with solutions for a particular patient, as there is no real standard for treatment. It is crucial that the patient, family, and those treating the patient, all have realistic expectations for how much the patient can improve.
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