Adult Speech Therapy Services

Auditory Processing Disorder Treatment

Auditory processing disorder (APD) is a condition that affects the way the brain processes sound and background noise.

It can create difficulties in normal hearing, difficulty understanding speech in conversations, and being able to follow directions given verbally. If you do present with auditory processing difficulties, you might notice that your abilities to understand or hear things correctly may get worse when you’re in an environment with lots of background noise, such as the air conditioning running or other people having conversations around you.

Clients may present difficulty processing auditory information, which is not an issue with physically hearing information but comprehending and processing information that they hear. Auditory processing difficulties, as mentioned, can present difficulties with following directions without visuals, complex or longer directions, recalling information when visuals are not provided, and understanding and hearing spoken words correctly.

Having an auditory processing disorder is not the same as hearing loss. A client may present with mild hearing impairments and auditory processing. However, it becomes more difficult to determine if there are true auditory processing difficulties when hearing impairment is more severe.

Auditory Skills Can Include:

  • Auditory Discrimination: A client’s ability to identify differences in sounds and words. (Ex. cat, bat. Are they the same or different?)
  • Auditory Memory: A client’s ability to mentally store information that is spoken or heard.
  • Auditory Sequencing: A client’s ability to identify the order in which auditory information is presented.

How Do You Treat Auditory Processing Disorders?

In our clinic, we utilize speech therapy to address auditory processing difficulties with a variety of auditory training activities to improve auditory memory, increase auditory retention skills, build phonological awareness and hearing differences between words, and provide compensatory strategies for improving daily behaviors to increase processing success. For adults, starting with compensatory strategies allows a client to have more success with auditory processing tasks while working to build overall skills. In addition to compensatory strategies, we do recommend some environmental changes. Strategies for adults may look more like adjusting your seating arrangement, reducing distracting sounds, and increasing the volume of the speaker or device the client is listening to.

How is it diagnosed?

Central auditory processing disorders must be diagnosed by an audiologist. Our clinic provides auditory processing screenings to determine auditory processing disorder symptoms, including if a client has weaknesses in components of auditory processing. If our tests reveal weaknesses in auditory processing skills, therapy can be started to address difficulties to increase a client’s success. If the client prefers to pursue a diagnosis, the clinician can refer them to an audiologist for the full evaluation, which will allow for a full evaluation.

What Is the Next Step if I am Identified as Having Deficits in Auditory Processing?

The therapist may recommend speech therapy to address auditory processing skill difficulties. In order to have an auditory processing disorder diagnosed, it is necessary for clients to be referred to an audiologist for a full evaluation.

Why Is It Important to be Tested by a Speech Therapist for an Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) if They Cannot Diagnose It?

Speech therapists can treat issues related to a central auditory processing disorder even though they cannot diagnose it. While audiologists are the only professionals who can diagnose auditory processing disorder (APD), they are not the only professionals who can treat those diagnosed. Speech therapists are qualified to treat the deficits seen with auditory processing disorder.

Auditory Processing Disorder Treatment

Treatment of an auditory processing disorder might include using strategies to improve auditory memory, auditory retention, processing information against background noise, and dichotic listening skills. Speech language pathologists can work with clients on activities such as speech sound discrimination, audio-memory exercises, auditory figure-ground training, dichotic listening activities, visual cues, and phonemic/phonological awareness tasks to improve skills. Therapists may also recommend the use of assistive technology, such as FM systems, or adapting environments for better sound quality, which can also help in making listening easier for those who struggle with processing information against background noise. With careful assessment and appropriate intervention from trained speech therapists, significant improvements in auditory processing skills can be achieved.

Clinicians Providing These Services:
Megan Crisler Megan Zecher

Information taken from: An Advanced Review of Speech-Language Pathology, Preparation for PRAXIS and Comprehensive Examination, Third Edition. Celeste Roseberry-McKibbin, M.N. Hegde.