Allison Audiology Provides Auditory Processing Disorder Testing

Approximately 15% of school-aged children (2.5 million) in the U.S. have auditory processing disorder, or APD, according to the Hearing Health Foundation, while about 15% of American veterans also experience ADP and its neurological consequences from blast exposure.

Most hearing assessments show individuals with APD to have normal or near normal hearing, making it difficult to detect. The effect it has on the cognitive and social development of children, impeding language development and academic progress as well as TIA, stroke, tumors, epilepsy, and other neurological issues in causes, has made it imperative that Allison Audiology and Hearing Aid Center also test for auditory processing disorder.

What Is APD?

Auditory processing disorder is a condition that involves how the brain processes speech. Though a person might demonstrate normal hearing during a hearing test, ADP involves a coordination issue between the auditory pathway and the central auditory system of the brain.

A person with APD hears what someone is saying, but they struggle to decipher the meaning of what was said. When conversations take place in an environment with background noise, when there are multiple conversations at the same time, or when not facing the speaker, individuals with APD struggle to detect the subtle differences between words like cat, bat, and that, seventy and seventeen, and thousands of other similar words.

Four categories of processing skills that are limited or lacking in people who struggle with auditory processing disorder, according to Understood.com, include:

  • Auditory discrimination: noticing, comparing, and distinguishing between separate sounds
  • Auditory figure-ground discrimination: focusing on the important sounds in a noisy setting
  • Auditory memory: recalling what they heard (short or long term)
  • Auditory sequencing: understanding and recalling the order of sounds and words

APD leads most people to assume that they or their loved one is experiencing hearing loss, but when hearing tests turn up normal, identifying the cause becomes a struggle.

Doctor performing APD test on a young girl at Allison Audiology and Hearing Aid Center
Symptoms of auditory processing disorder

Who is affected by APD?

Auditory processing disorder is most prominent in school-aged children as a disorder related to their development.

It often runs together with dyslexia and can be misdiagnosed as ADHD or vice versa, as well as being a common secondary diagnosis in individuals with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD, or autism).

The small percentage of adults who experience APD often have hearing loss and/or cognitive decline issues. Blast exposure, resulting in neurological disorders, and brain injuries in an estimated 15% of military veterans are also associated with APD.

Signs/Symptoms Of Auditory Processing Disorder

“My kid is kind of out to lunch, asks me to repeat myself a lot, and can’t follow a simple set of directions.” While it’s not uncommon for kids to ignore their parents periodically or to have a short attention span, if the above statement is an ongoing description of your child, auditory processing disorder (APD) could be the cause.

The Most Common Signs That An Individual Experiencing Auditory Processing Disorder Include:

  • Slow to respond when spoken to.
  • Strange response to questions or conversations.
  • Frequently asking the speaker to repeat what they said.
  • Completing some, but not all steps in a series of instructions.
  • Difficulty with spelling.
  • Withdrawal in the classroom or during social activities.
  • Extreme fatigue in the classroom or during social activities.
  • Improved understanding when looking at the speaker in a one-on-one conversation.

In addition to struggling to detect the subtle differences between words, a person experiencing APD might hear the words in a sentence out of order or scrambled. For example, “How are the chair and couch alike?” could be interpreted as “How the cow and hair are like?”

Great service and very cooperative, I was running late but called to let them know and they waited for us to arrive. We did not have to wait to be seen and the Dr that did the tests with my daughter was very nice and caring! Definitely a good place to go.
– Angelica C.

They are great. They are very through in the testing. I got my results while I was there and we talked about my options. I’ve already told my coworkers how impressed I was.
– Deborah P.

Allison was able to get us in early on short notice and as always was very thorough and professional. We have been going for a number of years and the service is consistently excellent.
– Bryan D.

Diagnosing and Treating Auditory Processing Disorder

One of the biggest struggles for parents, doctors, and psychologists in relation to auditory processing disorder (APD) is that it is similar to hearing loss. Consequently, the first step in diagnosing auditory processing disorder involves ruling out hearing loss as a cause.

When a hearing test shows normal to near normal hearing, our next step involves a Hearing Handicap Inventory, which provides subjective input like identifying which environments they struggle the most in, as well as the words and phrases they struggle with.

Parents, teachers, or other adults provide necessary information to assist with diagnosis of young children. Audiologists also use additional tests to diagnose APD, including:

  • Auditory Figure-Ground Testing (speech understanding with background noise)
  • Auditory Closure Testing (the capacity to “fill in the gaps” of speech)
  • Dichotic Listening Testing (ability to understand meaningful speech that happens simultaneously)
  • Temporal Processing Testing (capacity to distinguish between similar speech sounds like “mat” and “pat”)
  • Binaural Interaction Testing (ability to identify the direction of sounds and localizing them in a room)

These tests can help diagnose ADP in children as young as three, but they are most often used with children seven-years-old or older. Innovative electrophysiology tests can evaluate how the body responds to speech and provide additional information about the central auditory system.

A girl during ADP diagnosis
ADP treatment at Allison Audiology Houston, TX

Treatment Options for APD in Houston, Texas

Should a child show auditory processing deficits after testing, then 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.

These compensatory strategies provide your child with the building blocks to help them overcome the condition in order to improve school and workplace communication. If language development has been impacted by APD, speech and language therapy options might include:

  • Boosting Phonological Awareness Skills
  • The Use of Inference in Speech
  • Vocabulary Enhancement
  • Comprehension Improvement Strategies
  • Social Communication Skills

Having helped a number of challenging APD cases, our team of audiologists are among the trusted experts in the region when it comes to addressing APD. Depending on the needs of the child, assistive devices may be recommended to assist in understanding while limiting the impacts of background noise.

Frequently Asked Questions About Auditory Processing Disorder

Q. Can You Test Adults for Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)?

A. Yes. Awareness of APD has become more widespread, therefore it is being identified earlier. Because of this, many of the testing platform visuals are geared toward younger patients to maintain engagement, but performance and norms are based on age, allowing us to evaluate adults who may suspect APD.

Q. Can You Test Infants or Toddlers For APD?

A. Signs and symptoms of APD typically start to become more apparent as children are beginning school. Because of this, APD evaluations are typically conducted at approximately 5 years of age or older. However, if you’re concerned about your child, then simply call our office and we’ll be delighted to answer any questions that you may have and discuss your circumstances.

Q. Is APD Testing Invasive?

A. Not at all. The testing method was designed to feel more like you are playing a game on a tablet rather than taking part in any type of hearing evaluation. But, while it appears to be all ‘fun and games,’ it is measuring and collecting important data as you continue through the exercises.

Q. Does Insurance Cover APD Testing?

A. Sometimes. Because every insurance plan is different, it’s best to contact your carrier and see if coverage is offered. If you are unsure, our insurance specialist will verify your benefits prior to arrival for your scheduled visit as well.

Schedule an Appointment to Start Your Auditory Processing Disorder Testing Journey

If you suspect you or a loved one may be showing signs of Auditory Processing Disorder, you can contact our Houston office by scheduling your appointment using the adjacent form or by calling our Houston office on (713) 893-1070.

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Patient Stories

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Auditory Processing Disorder: Diagnosis and Treatment

By: Erin Arceneaux-Larson, Au.D. at Allison Audiology & Hearing Aid Center Central Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is used to describe a disorder in which a person has normal hearing sensitivity but perform as if they have a peripheral hearing loss.
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