Auditory Processing Disorder Experts in Houston and Lake Jackson
What You Should Know About Auditory Processing Disorder
If you or a loved one struggle to understand conversations, it doesn’t solely signify that you have a problem with your hearing. The condition, known as auditory processing disorder or APD can affect individuals of any age, has nothing to do with the person’s intelligence and is not related to hearing impairment.
About 15% (2.5 million) American school-aged children are affected by APD, according to Hearing Health Foundation. Additionally, APD is often a secondary diagnosis for children with autism, affects 15% of military veterans due to blast exposure, can be a consequence of neurological disorders from brain injuries (TIA, stroke, tumors, and epilepsy, etc.), and can affect older adults with otherwise normal hearing.
Auditory Processing Disorder creates a variety of educational, occupational and social challenges for Lake Jackson and Houston residents, making its identification and treatment critical to your overall health as well as your quality of life.
Helping you understand and identify auditory processing disorder is part of our commitment by Allison Audiology to provide you and our community with better hearing care.
What is Audiology Processing Disorder?
Auditory Processing Disorder involves how the brain understands speech. Though you hear the sounds of speech clearly, the subtle differences for discerning between those sounds is lost, making it difficult to comprehend what is said.
Distinctions between words like care, hair and chair might be a challenge if you are experiencing APD, which causes problems with understanding during conversations.
There are four main auditory processing skills, which those with APD struggle, including:
- Auditory discrimination: identifying, comparisons and distinction between sounds
- Auditory figure-ground discrimination: the capacity to sort out important sound in a noisy environment
- Auditory memory: the capacity to recall what was heard immediately as well as in the immediate past
- Auditory sequencing: grasping and recall of the order of sounds and words
Because many of these characteristics closely match indicators of hearing loss, Auditory Processing Disorder is sometimes misdiagnosed and treated as a hearing impairment, which is why speech testing is critical to any hearing assessment.
Common Signs of Auditory Processing Disorder
The cause of APD remains unclear, impacting people of different ages in a variety of different ways. However, there are several common signs that mean you might be struggling with an auditory processing disorder, such as:
- Difficulty following spoken, multi-step directions
- Frequently asking others to repeat themselves
- Struggling to follow a conversation, especially when there are several speakers
- Difficulty reading and understanding new words
- Easily distracted by background noise or sudden, loud noises
- Struggling to recall details of something you read or heard
- Difficulty processing sounds necessary for reading or spelling
- A delayed response when someone speaks to you
- Struggling to locate where sounds/speech are coming from
It is easy to note that these auditory processing difficulties create significant problems for children in school and continue with age. This is why identification of APD is crucial and treatment is sought.
Diagnosing and Treating Auditory Processing Disorder
Because there is such a thin distinction between the signs and symptoms of hearing loss and auditory processing disorder, the first step is to rule out hearing loss. A comprehensive hearing test by a hearing care expert at our Houston or Lake Jackson office works through a necessary series of tests to establish the distinction.
Speech testing, included in a comprehensive hearing assessment, is used to identify your ability to process speech with various tasks. Additional testing through an Auditory Processing Disorder testing protocol provides further information, distinguishing between like-sounding words, the ability to recall what was heard and the capacity to repeat or follow multi-step directions.
When considered with an otherwise normal hearing level, your audiologist will be able to identify auditory processing disorder. APD often shows up in childhood, but testing for hearing disorders does not usually begin before ages 5-7, depending on a variety of factors, as auditory skills are still in development stages.
Identification in children can be further complicated due to the fact that APD and ADHD cause similar focus and memory retention challenges. The similarities of receptive language disorder (RLD) also complicates diagnosis, but with RLD, the issue relates to an inability to understand the meaning of language, not the sounds of speech.
Should a child show auditory processing deficits after testing, convenient, at-home treatment options will be discussed to help with issues involving sound distinction, recall capacity, sorting out sounds in noisy environments, improving focus during conversation and other processing challenges. Depending on the needs of the child, assistive devices may be recommended to assist in understanding while limiting the impacts of background noise. If language development has been impacted by APD, speech therapy may be recommended as well.
How Allison Audiology Identifies Auditory Processing Disorder
If you suspect that you or a loved one might be struggling with Auditory Processing Disorder, a comprehensive hearing assessment from Allison Audiology and Hearing Aid Center is the first step toward getting the help you need.
You can either visit our Houston or Lake Jackson office by scheduling your appointment by completing the form on this page or calling us.