What is Auditory Processing Disorder?

earWhen we hear, the sound moves through to the inner ear which delivers the sound to the brain. The brain then translates what is heard. How the brain interprets what is heard is auditory processing.

Auditory processing skills include:

  • Auditory discrimination (analyzing and interpreting sounds that are heard)
  • Auditory attention (ability to sustain focus on auditory information)
  • Auditory memory (remembering verbal information)
  • Auditory output (organizing what is heard and responding to it)
  • Auditory association (attaching meaning to the words that are heard)
  • Auditory filtering (focusing on one noise amongst competing noises)

When a person is hard of hearing, or completely deaf, the pathway that delivers the information to the brain is impaired. For a person who has APD, the information is delivered okay, but the part of the brain that processes the information does not translate it properly.

APD does not effect other cognitive functions, so individuals with APD usually have average to above-average intelligence.

What does it sound like to have APD?

Imagine being in a foreign country where everybody thinks you know the language, but you really only know some of it. When people talk to you, you get an idea of what they are saying, but you have difficulty understanding every word. Often you misinterpret what is said based on your partial understanding. This is what it’s like to have auditory processing disorder (APD).

People who have APD often interpret a garbled message of what is actually heard. For example, “Please get the broom,” may sound like “He’s at the room.” It’s like trying to have a conversation on a cell phone that keeps distorting the connection.

audioYou can hear a simulation of APD by listening to this mp3: Simulation of APD. Note: Auditory Processing simulation provided by SoundsSkills Clinic, New Zealand.

Books about Auditory Processing Disorder

The following books are excellent resources for learning more about APD:

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