Auditory Processing Disorder

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Duke audiologists and speech pathologists evaluate and manage auditory processing disorder (APD) -- when, despite someone having normal hearing, a person's brain has difficulty processing auditory information. APD can affect both children and adults. It can cause problems with speech understanding, attention, learning, language, and reading. Our goal is to provide education and recommendations to strengthen listening and communication skills and to reduce the academic, social, or workplace impact of APD.

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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.
Our Locations

Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

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.

Why Choose Duke

Team Approach
Collaborating with other professionals helps us better understand a person with auditory processing disorder as a whole. Our audiologists partner with other Duke specialists to ensure you receive thorough, compassionate care. 

Recognized Experts
We keep abreast of the latest treatments to enhance our practice and your care. Our audiologists attend state, national, and worldwide conferences to stay current on best practices and share their expertise. Our specialists have undergone advanced training, and many have advanced certification in specialized areas. Our combined skill and leadership mean you will work with some of the most knowledgeable and experienced audiologists and speech-language pathologists in the U.S.

Consistently Ranked Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals

Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why we are once again recognized as the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 11 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2023–2024.

This page was medically reviewed on 04/28/2022 by