The list of developmental concerns continues to grow in our modern and interconnected world. A few things are responsible for this, not the least of which is our newfound ability to share information rapidly. But, it is also the advancement of science and technology that provide us with a more in-depth understanding of our bodies, minds and personalities.
Still, though we continue to answer more questions, it seems that there is always a new frontier for our best and brightest minds to move towards. For every vaccine and gene therapy that delivers results, there is another virus and developmental disorder. All of this is to say that the march of science does not take a linear path, but it does always continue forward.
On the topic of disorders that are not fully understood, we can discuss Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), which is sometimes referred to as Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD). Diagnosing this disorder often occurs in a hearing clinic because APD is a hearing-related disorder that may manifest in a series of symptoms, including:
- Difficulty understanding spoken words
- Difficulty hearing people in loud or crowded spaces
- Difficulty properly pronouncing certain words and sounds
- Speaking with a strange tone (nasally)
- Difficulty understanding similar-sounding words and sounds in a noisy environment
Generally speaking, APD is a problem most often found in children. Parents see their child not responding in a predictable way or to auditory stimuli, and they bring them to a hearing clinic for testing by an audiologist. However, APD may occur at any time, even well into adulthood.
The Complexity of APD
While the symptoms above may indicate an individual has APD, they may also indicate a problem with the central nervous system, higher brain functions, developmental malformations (i.e. cleft lip/ palate, soft palate issues) or intellectual disabilities. Herein lies the fundamental difficulty in discussing Auditory Processing Disorder (APD).
Due to the relative newness of this disorder and our understanding of it, misdiagnosis of unrelated symptoms as APD is common. One of the most common examples of this occurs in children with Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). These children may not respond to auditory stimuli or form sentences due to inattention or a lack of focus, but because they display ear-related problems, they are diagnosed with APD.
How to Properly Diagnose APD
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the only way to properly diagnose APD is through a multidisciplinary approach involving audiologists and hearing clinics. Psychologists, general practice medical doctors and teachers can all play a role in removing other potential causes and ensuring the root of the problem is actually APD.
The ASHA continues on to describe a method of assessment for Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), which states, “…the audiologist will administer a series of tests in a sound-treated room. These tests require listeners to attend to a variety of signals and to respond to them via repetition, pushing a button, or in some other way. Other tests that measure the auditory system’s physiologic responses to sound may also be administered.”
How to Treat APD
Unfortunately, there are no universally accepted treatments for APD. In fact, even the underlying causes of APD are not well understood at this time. As a result, treating APD is often a personalized process suited to an individual’s unique situation. For the best results for yourself or your child, be sure to visit a hearing clinic for more information.
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