January 17, 2023
Anywhere Audiology is proud to announce that we now offer Auditory Processing Disorder testing and treatment throughout New Jersey and New York. Since we are a mobile practice, this means that we can extend this service to families in Clifton, Toms River, Jersey City, Long Island, Brooklyn, Manhattan and more!
Call us today to schedule mobile (in-home) APD services with one of our Audiologists.
Although most hearing loss we deal with concerns damage to the hair cells within the ear, Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is different – it is a condition that affects how the brain interprets sound, not how sound travels from the ear to the brain.
Understanding how we hear can help us better understand APD.
How we hear
The outer, middle, and inner ear are the three parts of the ear. When sound waves go through the ear canal, they make the eardrum vibrate. These vibrations travel to the fluid-filled inner ear (the cochlea) through the middle ear’s three tiny bones (ossicles). The auditory nerve sends an impulse to the brain when the fluid in the cochlea moves. The brain then processes these nerve impulses as sounds.
People with APD
When someone has APD, the sound goes through the middle and inner ear as usual. Then, the auditory nerve takes it to the brain. When the sound gets to the brain, it is unable to figure out what it means.
APD is sometimes called a “spectrum disorder” because each person is affected differently and to a different degree. Some children have a wider variety of problems than others. Some children have a more comprehensive array of issues than others. APD can be made worse by having other problems, like dyslexia, trouble processing language, trouble paying attention, or bad short-term memory.
Doctors don’t know what causes APD, and research is ongoing.
There may be a genetic component to it since parents sometimes say they had the same problems when they were young as their children. It could also be because some children who had a lot of ear infections as kids have brains that are “wired” a little differently, making it harder for messages to get from one cell to the next.
Along with APD, children can also have dyslexia, attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity, and speech or language problems.
According to the National Institutes of Health, about 5% of school-aged children have some for of APD, and 43% of children who have trouble learning have it too.
Parents may notice that their child isn’t hearing or listening well at a young age, but the problems usually become more evident when the child enters school. Even though children with APD may seem to have trouble hearing, this is usually not the case when their hearing is tested.
Children with APD often have trouble understanding speech, especially in places with a lot of noise, like a classroom or a busy shopping mall. Noise in the background may also make it hard for them to focus and read. These problems can make it hard to understand and remember instructions, speak clearly, and learn how to read.
Teachers might be worried about a child who doesn’t start reading at the usual age or takes a long time to learn how to read. But these problems could be caused by other things that make it hard to talk.
When a child with APD gets a regular hearing test, they usually don’t show any signs of hearing loss because the test is done in a quiet room with few other distractions.
For an accurate diagnosis of APD, more complex tests are needed, such as:
Most of the time, neither medicine nor surgery can “cure” APD. But several things could be done to lessen the effects of APD on daily life. Training programs that help with specific problems or help people listen and focus better can be beneficial if they are used often.
Some things can be done at school to make things easier. For example, your child could sit near the front of the classroom, ask the teacher to make sure they are listening, and have written instructions to back up verbal instructions. Changes you can make at home can also help, like keeping the background noise from the TV or radio at a reasonable level. You can also help your child by having them repeat what you say.
Many kids with APD get better as they get older, usually because they learn ways to deal with their problems and use them daily. Most kids and teens do well in school and work if they identify it early and take appropriate steps.
If you think your child might have Auditory Processing Disorder, we’re on hand to help – contact us today to set up a consultation!