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Auditory Processing Disorder

Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Only an audiologist can diagnose auditory processing disorder (APD). Longmont Hearing and Tinnitus Center has experts that can diagnose and treat APD.

Auditory Processing Disorder

A person with auditory processing disorder (APD) may have a difficult time hearing small sound differences in words. When someone says “Please raise your hand,” it might be heard as “Please base the pan” (which makes no sense at all). This creates a big gap in communication.

To be clear, auditory processing disorder is not hearing loss or a learning disorder. Auditory processing disorder is also not a problem with understanding or comprehension. Having APD means that the brain doesn’t “hear” sounds the way it is supposed to.

How common is auditory processing disorder?

APD can occur in people of all ages. In most cases, auditory processing disorder starts in childhood, but it’s not uncommon for some people to develop it later in life. According to statistics, around 2-7% of kids have auditory processing disorder, and boys are more likely to have it than girls.

If left untreated, auditory processing disorder can lead to significant learning delays. Kids who are diagnosed with APD may need a little extra help or a boost when it comes to learning.

Auditory processing disorder may be linked to other conditions with similar symptoms such as dyslexia. Some experts also suggest that children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) may also have auditory processing disorder.

How do you know if you have auditory processing disorder?

Auditory processing disorder is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed because of its many symptoms that are very similar to those found in other conditions or disorders. Additionally, APD symptoms can also be hidden by or overlap with other issues, like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), speech-language delays, learning disabilities, and depression.

Auditory attention problems, sound sensitivity, and auditory memory deficits are not common symptoms of auditory processing disorder, but may be linked to using sound information incorrectly.

Getting checked by an audiologist and other related medical professionals, can help you better understand these conditions related to auditory processing disorders.

Auditory Processing Disorder Symptoms

In children, auditory processing disorder can affect the way a child communicates as well as their ability to spell, write, and read. The end of words with similar sounds may tend to be mixed up.


APD can also make talking to people really challenging. This is because individuals with auditory processing disorder may not be able to process what others are saying, which leads to a delayed or wrong response.

Individuals with auditory processing disorder may find it difficult to:

Auditory Processing Disorder Causes

There’s no specific cause or reason behind auditory processing disorder but it is usually linked to:

Auditory Processing Disorder Testing and Diagnosis

Doctors can use a hearing test to see if the communication issues or suspected auditory processing disorder is caused by hearing loss. Only an audiologist can diagnose auditory processing disorder. Audiologists at Longmont Hearing and Tinnitus Center can diagnose and treat auditory processing disorders. If you are in Longmont, Colorado and need to be seen by an audiologist, schedule an appointment at our clinic – we are more than happy to help!

Our audiologists will conduct a series of advanced listening tests in which you will listen to different sounds and respond whenever you hear them. Other tests include attaching painless electrodes to the ears and head to measure how the brain reacts to sound. Please note that children below the age of 7 are not tested for auditory processing disorders because their responses to the listening test(s) may not yet be accurate.

Audiologists often look for these main problem areas in patients with suspected APD:

Auditory figure-ground: This is when a person has trouble understanding speech when there is ambient noise. Loosely-structured or open-air venues can be very frustrating for a person with auditory processing disorder.

Auditory closure: This is when a person has a hard time filling in the gaps of speech. This can occur in a quiet situation but is more likely to happen when the speaker’s voice is muffled or if the speaker is talking too fast. This makes it challenging for a person with APD to keep up and make sense of words and sounds.

Dichotic listening: This is when a person has problems understanding multiple conversations from different speakers. For example, if Person A is talking and Person B is cracking a joke, a person with APD will have a really difficult time understanding one or both speakers.

Binaural interaction: People with auditory processing disorder will find it difficult to know which side sounds or speech are coming from. Sound localization is a challenge for individuals with APD. While this is less common, it’s essential to rule out this symptom because this could also indicate seizure disorders or brain trauma.

Auditory Processing Disorder Treatment

Just like tinnitus, there’s no direct cure for auditory processing disorder. However, there are various available treatments and interventions specific to each individual.

These treatments usually focus on the following areas:

Classroom support: Electronic devices, like frequency modulation systems, can help students hear the teacher more clearly. Teachers can also implement ways that help students with auditory processing disorder concentrate, like seating them at the front of the class or limiting background noise.

Compensating with other skills/strengths: Factors like problem solving, memory, or other learning skills can help students deal with auditory processing disorder better.

Auditory Therapy: Auditory can help individuals with auditory processing disorder recognize sounds and improve basic conversational skills. Joining support groups for auditory processing disorder can also be a great help and provide a relatable source of resources. A few lifestyle changes can also help make living with APD easier. Cover hard floors with rugs to reduce echoes, and try to limit the use of the radio, TV, and other noisy electronics.

With the right intervention, people with auditory processing disorder can be successful in school and in life. Early diagnosis is key. If the condition is not clearly identified and managed early, a child is at risk for learning difficulties and listening problems at home and at school.

Additionally, misdiagnosed or undiagnosed auditory processing disorder can give a wrong impression to a person with that condition. Hence, it is highly important to seek the expertise of professionals who specialize in APD.

Best Audiologists Longmont, Colorado

Communication is essential for a happy and productive life – which applies to children and adults. In any stage of life, effective communication is highly important. While auditory processing disorder is not really linked to hearing loss, it still poses as a huge communication barrier.

At Longmont Hearing and Tinnitus Center, we want to help you to communicate better by providing comprehensive hearing evaluations and structuring a unique and highly-personalized treatment plan. Let us help you overcome any possible gaps and hurdles that prevent you or your family members from communicating effectively.

If you suspect that you or your child might be exhibiting symptoms of auditory processing disorder, contact an expert to get an accurate diagnosis and get the needed intervention as soon as possible. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

Best Audiologists Longmont, Colorado