Pediatric Speech Therapy Services

Auditory Processing Disorder

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

Clients may present with auditory processing difficulties, which is not an issue with physically hearing information, but comprehending and processing information that they hear. Auditory processing difficulties can present like many other things, as some indications may include difficulties with following directions without visuals, recalling information when visuals are not provided, and understanding and hearing words correctly.

Having 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 is true auditory processing difficulties when hearing impairment is more severe.

Different components of Auditory Processing

  • Auditory Discrimination: A child's ability to identify differences in sounds and words. (Ex. Cat, bat. Are they the same or different?)
  • Auditory memory: A child's ability to mentally store information that is spoken or heard.
  • Auditory sequencing: A child's ability to identify the order in which auditory information is presented.

How Do You Treat Auditory Processing Disorders?

In our clinic, speech therapy is utilized to address auditory processing difficulties with a variety of activities to improve auditory memory, increase auditory retention skills, build phonological awareness, and provide compensatory strategies for improving daily behaviors to increase processing success. Coping strategies may include providing techniques for children who have difficulty in s regular classroom (i.e., directing attention, sitting closer to the front, using assistive technology, etc.).

How is it diagnosed?

Central auditory processing disorders can be diagnosed by an audiologist. Our clinic provides screening to determine if a client has deficits in components of auditory processing. If our tests reveal weaknesses, therapy can be started to address difficulties to increase a client’s success with auditory processing. If the client prefers a full diagnosis, the clinician can refer them to an audiologist.

What is the next step if my child is identified as having deficits in auditory processing?

The therapist may recommend speech therapy to address the auditory processing skills and any other deficits. A referral may also be made for complete auditory processing testing with an audiologist who can test for and give a full diagnosis.

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 that 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 may 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, and phonemic/phonological awareness tasks. Therapists may also recommend 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.