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What is Auditory Processing Disorder?

For those who may not be familiar with auditory processing disorder (APD), it is a form of hearing loss that affects roughly 5 percent of school-aged children, according to a study published by the National Institute of Health. In many cases, children with auditory processing disorder are labeled slow learners, but this couldn't be any further from the truth. Although children with this type of hearing problem lose the ability to process and interpret certain sounds, there is nothing wrong with them in terms of cognitive function.


It is important to note that children with an auditory processing disorder, can hear sounds in their environment; however, their ability to make out those sounds becomes increasingly challenging when there is a lot of background noise. So while they may understand that someone is speaking to them, they may not understand the words that are being said, for example. Of course, a noisy environment can make hearing difficult for anyone; however, it can be especially challenging for children with APD.


According to most studies, the causes of auditory processing disorder is unknown. However, most physicians, scientists, and researchers believe that head trauma and ear infections can be contributing factors. That said, hearing loss associated with auditory processing disorder can worsen if parents do not seek treatment for their children as soon as possible. In some cases, the condition can also affect their speech and may cause learning problems as well. Some of the more common signs of an auditory processing disorder include:

  • Easily annoyed by loud sounds
  • Changes in behavior when in a quiet environment versus loud ones
  • Changes in speech
  • Difficulty following a conversation
  • Difficulty following directions


If you noticed any of the symptoms detailed in this article or if your child is struggling in school, it would be a good idea to schedule an appointment with an audiologist as soon as possible. During your appointment, the audiologist will be looking for auditory problems that are commonly linked to auditory processing disorders, some of which include:

  • Auditory attention problems
  • Auditory cohesion problems
  • Auditory discrimination problems
  • Auditory memory problems
  • Auditory figure-ground problems

If these tests reveal that your child has an auditory processing disorder, the audiologist will advise you on small changes that you can make around your home to help minimize the impact that the condition has on your child, including lowering background noise whenever possible. Additionally, he or she may recommend a listening device like a frequency modulation system, for example, that can help your child differentiate sounds. To learn more about treatments available for an auditory processing disorder or to schedule a free hearing test for your child at Beltone South, consider speaking with one of our associates today.