About Auditory Processing Disorder
Auditory processing disorder can be misdiagnosed because symptoms can mimic other disorders or are overshadowed by other problems, like learning disabilities, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism. If possible, it is best to rule out these concerns before being evaluated for APD. We can assess children with these diagnoses to look for areas of weakness, but we cannot label APD as a standalone disorder in these cases.
APD testing is recommended for:
- Children ages seven and up.
- Children and adults with normal hearing.
What to Expect During Evaluation
For children, we schedule two separate appointments on separate days:
- The first appointment will be with a pediatric audiologist, who will administer a comprehensive hearing test to rule out hearing loss and middle ear dysfunction.
- The second appointment will be an APD evaluation with both an audiologist and a speech-language pathologist, who will evaluate expressive and receptive language and cognitive skills, problem-solving abilities, memory, and attention. Specific auditory processing tests will be chosen based on your child’s age and developmental level.
For adults, the APD evaluation is combined into one appointment for your convenience.
We will ask you to complete questionnaires and discuss your or your child’s medical history. We’ll also test listening skills (for example, listening when there is background noise, competing information, fast rates of speech, and more).
After testing, we’ll talk with you about the results, any auditory processing weaknesses we found, and recommendations for managing them.
Auditory Processing Disorder Management
An audiologist will review areas of difficulties identified during testing and explain the potential impact on everyday communication in the workplace, classroom, or at home. When appropriate, we’ll coordinate your care with other specialists throughout Duke.
- Ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctors, also called otolaryngologists, may explore concerns about hearing loss, middle ear fluid, or ear anatomy.
- Psychologists can address attention or hyperactivity concerns.
- Specialists in reading and psychoeducation can help you and your family better understand and cope with APD.
Intervention Programs and Auditory Training
Communication and learning strategies, environmental modifications (for example, strategic seating or using an FM system to reduce background noise and listening fatigue), and auditory training tasks may be recommended for you or your child. Auditory training may include software-based programs designed to improve your or your child’s ability to understand sounds and to improve communication.