Diagnostic Audiology Program
(Central) Auditory Processing Disorder
What is auditory processing?
Auditory processing is the brain’s ability to accurately perceive speech in both quiet and noisy settings. The brain can detect, analyze and discriminate small differences in pitch, loudness and duration. However, some children with normal hearing have difficulty with this ability, leading to difficulty with discrimination of speech. This is a (central) auditory processing disorder or (C)APD. (C)APD can impact the listener’s ability to develop language, succeed academically and/or communicate effectively.
What are common symptoms of a (Central) Auditory Processing Disorder or (C)APD?
- Trouble hearing in background noise
- Difficulty figuring out where sound is coming from
- Seems distracted or inattentive in noisy environments
- Mishears words or similar sounds
- Asks for repetition often
- Academic issues, including single word reading, reading by phonics, spelling
- Difficulty following multi-step instructions provided orally
- Difficulty with auditory nonverbal information, such as detecting sarcasm, understanding jokes
A lack of music appreciation, child speaks without inflection
What is not auditory processing?
Auditory processing does not include:
- Comprehension of spoken language
- Higher level language skills, such as inferencing or abstract thinking
- Organization, retrieval or formulation of language
An attention disorder
What is an auditory processing evaluation?
An auditory processing evaluation uses a variety of tests designed to stress the auditory system. The child’s performance is compared to norms for children the same age, as the auditory system continues to mature through about age 12 years. The audiologist is the professional who diagnoses an auditory processing disorder based on this evaluation.
Who is an appropriate candidate for referral for auditory processing testing?
Due to the complex nature of the evaluation, children who can be successfully evaluated for auditory processing issues include children:
- At least 7 years of age
- Without significant cognitive or developmental delays
- With sufficient receptive and expressive language skills to follow the directions and respond to the tasks
- With speech that is intelligible to an unfamiliar listener
- For whom English is the primary language
- With normal to near-normal hearing
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