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Auditory Processing

What is Auditory Processing?

Auditory Processing is “what we do with what we hear”. The ear is responsible for picking up and hearing sounds. Once the ear has heard a sound, it transmits it to the brain. From the time the sound leaves the cochlea (the inner ear), auditory processing begins. Upon leaving the cochlea, sound travels through the central nervous system (CNS) up to the brain (cortex). The CNS is responsible for discriminating sounds, recognizing auditory patterns (pitch, timing, etc.), localizing environments (i.e., in the presence of background noise). The brain must organize what we “har” so it can process or “make sense” of this information.

What is an Auditory Processing Disorder?

An auditory processing disorder may be present if the CNS cannot efficiently perform any of the above-mentioned functions. In other words, au auditory processing disorder is the inability to attend to, recognize, discriminate, or understand auditory information your child “hears” and listens to. When there is a breakdown in any of these auditory processing functions, it will result in the reduced ability for your child to learn through hearing. Most people with auditory processing disorders have normal hearing and normal intelligence.

What are some symptoms of Auditory Processing Disorders?

  • Children/Adults with auditory processing disorders may present with some or all of the following symptoms:
  • Says “huh” or “what” frequently
  • Responds inconsistently to sound (sometimes child seems to hear and sometimes they do not)
  • Often misunderstands what is said
  • Asks for repetition
  • Has poor auditory attention
  • Is easily distracted
  • Has difficulty following oral instructions
  • Has difficulty hearing in the presence of background noise
  • Has difficulty with phonics and speech-sound discrimination
  • Has poor receptive and expressive language
  • May have difficulty with reading, spelling and/or other academic problems
  • Extensive history of chronic otitis media (fluid and/or ear infections)

How is an Auditory Processing Disorder diagnosed?

A complete audiological evaluation is necessary by an audiologist. Pending results of the audiologic evaluation, thorough parent histories and reports from other professionals (Speech-Language Pathologists, Psychologists, Teacher, etc.) about the child/adult, an Auditory Processing evaluation may be recommended by our audiology staff. It is important to note that currently, there are no norms for diagnostic tests for children under age 6, therefore under the age of 6 we rely on speech and language therapists and other professionals to monitor and observe the child for processing skills.

Please see this PDF for more information about Auditory Processing Disorders in children:  APD info for Parents