About auditory processing disorder in children

What is auditory processing disorder in children?

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is a complex problem. The term is used by many people, in very different ways. There is research underway to help understand this disorder. There also is research to investigate therapies that will help individuals who may have an auditory processing disorder. As you will read, it will take a team of experienced professionals to diagnose and treat a true APD. Two organizations certify many of the professionals qualified to diagnose and treat ADP: the American Speech-Hearing-Language Association (ASHA) and the American Academy of Audiology (AAA).

What is auditory processing?

Auditory processing is a term used to describe what happens when your brain recognizes and interprets the sounds around you. Humans hear when energy that we recognize as sound travels through the ear and is changed into electrical information that can be interpreted by the brain. The "disorder" part of auditory processing disorder means that something is adversely affecting the processing or interpretation of the information.

Children with APD often do not recognize subtle differences between sounds in words, even though the sounds themselves are loud and clear. For example, the request "Tell me how a chair and a couch are alike" may sound to a child with APD like "Tell me how a couch and a chair are alike." It can even be understood by the child as "Tell me how a cow and a hair are alike." These kinds of problems are more likely to occur when a person with APD is in a noisy environment or when he or she is listening to complex information. APD goes by many other names. Sometimes it is referred to as central auditory processing disorder (CAPD). Other common names are auditory perception problem, auditory comprehension deficit, central auditory dysfunction, central deafness, and so-called "word deafness."

What are the symptoms for auditory processing disorder in children?

The symptoms and signs or receptive language disorder vary from child to child since there is no standard set of symptoms that indicates receptive language disorder. However, symptoms may include:

  • Not seeming to listen when you speak to them
  • Appearing to lack interest when storybooks are read to them
  • Difficulty understanding the meaning of words and sentences
  • Difficulty remembering all the words in a sentence in order to make sense of what has been said
  • Inability to understand complicated sentences
  • Inability to follow verbal instructions; especially if the instruction is long or complicated.

What are the causes for auditory processing disorder in children?

The cause of receptive language disorder is often unknown, but is thought to consist of a number of factors working in combination, such as:

  • Genetic susceptibility (family history of receptive language disorder)
  • Limited exposure to hearing language in their day-to-day environment
  • General developmental and cognitive (thinking) diabilities.
  • Receptive language disorder is often associated with developmental disorders such as autism or Down syndrome. (Although for some children, difficulty with language is the only developmental problem they experience.)

In other cases, receptive language disorder is caused by damage to the brain, for example due to trauma, tumors, or disease.

Receptive language disorder may also be related to:

  • Hearing impairment: due to decreased exposure to language
  • Vision impairment: due to the absence of cues such as facial expression and gestures
  • Attention disorders: due to difficulties in attending fully to what is being said.

What are the treatments for auditory processing disorder in children?

Treatment options for receptive language disorder may include:

  1. Speech-language therapy (one-on-one or as part of a group, or both, depending on the needs of the child)
  2. Providing information to families so that they can facilitate language growth at home
  3. Special education classes at school
  4. Integration support at preschool or school in cases of severe difficulty
  5. Referral to a psychologist for treatment (only if there are also significant behavioral problems).

A child's progress will depend on a range of individual factors, such as whether or not brain injury is present.

What are the risk factors for auditory processing disorder in children?

  • The cause of receptive language disorder is unknown, but is thought to consist of a number of factors working in combination, including family history, limited exposure to hearing language in the day-to-day environment, and developmental and cognitive (thinking) disabilities such as autism or Down syndrome. Other causes of receptive language disorder include damage to the brain, due to trauma, tumors, or disease.

Is there a cure/medications for auditory processing disorder in children?

There is currently no cure for auditory processing disorder in children, however, there are treatments that can help improve a child’s symptoms.

1. Medications such as stimulants and antidepressants have been shown to be effective in some cases, but they are not always necessary. These are known to be effective because they can help improve focus and attention, which can be beneficial for children with an auditory processing disorder.
2. Other treatments that have been found to be helpful include speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
3. Some children with auditory processing disorder may also benefit from hearing aids or cochlear implants.
4. It is vital to work with a professional to determine what type of treatment is best for your child. With proper treatment and support, most children with auditory processing disorder can learn to effectively communicate and function in school and in everyday life.
5. If you think your child may have an auditory processing disorder, it is important to talk to your doctor or a hearing specialist. They will be able to perform testing to determine if your child has the condition and develop a treatment plan that is right for them.

Difficulty understanding spoken language,Trouble following directions,Difficulty paying attention to conversations,Poor listening skills,Frequent miscommunication,Frustration or acting out due to difficulty communicating
A hearing problem, where the brain doesn't "hear" sounds
Hearing aids or other assistive listening devices,Cochlear implants (for children with severe hearing loss),Therapies like occupational therapy (to help your child with daily living tasks)

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