Auditory Processing Disorder Testing for North Texas

Understanding speech in the presence of background noise is an issue common among individuals experiencing a hearing loss. However, when hearing tests do not indicate a hearing loss, this issue could be related to auditory processing disorder (APD).
A little kid touching ears while wearing a APD testing gear

APD can affect people of all ages, but it is most common in school-aged children. According to the Hearing Health Foundation, approximately 5% (2.5 million) of school-aged children in the US experience APD, while researchers estimate the real number could be up to 12% of the population.

Early detection and intervention by a doctor of audiology allows children to establish a strong foundation of phonemic detection abilities, speech discrimination, word identification, and comprehension upon which to build in order to limit the effects of APD on their capacity to learn.

APD in children is often missed because the child’s hearing assessments show normal or near normal hearing, which is why Denton Hearing Health Care makes the extra effort to test for and treat auditory processing disorder in both children and adults whenever it is suspected.

What Is Auditory Processing Disorder?

APD, sometimes called central auditory processing disorder (CAPD), involves how the brain processes speech. The ears and the auditory system function properly, but these systems do not fully coordinate with the brain in order to derive meaning from speech.

The disorder is usually most noticeable when there is a lot of background noise, multiple conversations taking place at the same time, or the individual is not facing the speaker.

When struggling with APD, it is difficult to pick up on the subtle differences between words like cat, bat, and that or seventy and seventeen. In some cases, words in a sentence can become scrambled so that “How are the chair and couch alike?” could be interpreted as “Hour the hair and cow are like?

There have been four categories of processing skills affected by those struggling with auditory processing disorder, including:

  • Auditory discrimination: noticing, comparing, and distinguishing between separate sounds
  • Auditory figure-ground discrimination: focusing on the important sounds in a noisy setting
  • Auditory memory: recalling what they heard (short or long term)
  • Auditory sequencing: understanding and recalling the order of sounds and words
Because APD causes most to assume that the person is experiencing hearing challenges when hearing tests are normal, many doctors fail to identify the cause.

What to Expect during Auditory Processing Tests

A young female underdoing auditory processing disorder test at Denton Hearing Health Care

#1 – A Review of Your Case History

A case history including age, auditory ability, genetics, and speech concerns as well as a range of other factors that may contribute toward the development of APD are reviewed during the testing process.

#2 – Comprehensive Hearing Assessment

A standard hearing test, which helps us identify or rule out peripheral auditory disorders that affect an individual’s ability to hear and understand when there is background noise is a necessary step toward diagnosing APD.

#3 – Evaluating the Central Auditory System

Behavioral tests to help evaluate the functional capabilities of the auditory system are used as part of the diagnostic procedure as well. One of the most common is the electrophysiologic test, which assesses the functionality of neural processes in the central auditory pathway and evaluates the integrity of the central auditory nervous system (CANS) from the auditory vestibular nerve to the auditory cortex.

Treatment Options for Auditory Processing Disorder at Denton Hearing Health Care

Treatment options for auditory processing disorder involve various therapeutic approaches designed to help the patient differentiate between sounds and manage their language processing systems.

Auditory training similar to what is used when those with a severe to profound hearing loss are going through cochlear implant evaluation and treatment is well received in the treatment of auditory processing disorder. In some cases, a hearing device might also help address some specific concerns.

In addition to auditory training, various forms of language therapy include:

  • Boosting Phonological Awareness Skills
  • The Use of Inference in Speech
  • Vocabulary Enhancement
  • Comprehension Improvement Strategies
  • Social Communication Skills

These therapeutic approaches provide individuals with APD the compensatory strategies and building blocks necessary to overcome the limitations of the disorder in order to improve school and workplace communication.

What Our Delighted Patients Say

Frequently Asked Questions about Auditory Processing Disorder

Who is affected by APD?

Auditory processing disorder is typically associated with developmental issues, so the condition is most prominent among school-aged children. APD is often misdiagnosed as ADHD or vice versa, can occur along with dyslexia, and is a common secondary diagnosis in individuals with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) or autism.

Those with a hearing loss and those experiencing cognitive decline can also experience APD and estimates indicate that nearly 15% of military veterans develop the disorder due to blast exposure and neurological disorders from brain injuries (e.g., stroke, traumatic brain injury, tumors, epilepsy).

What Are the Symptoms of Auditory Processing Disorder?

Symptoms are similar to those associated with hearing loss, such as difficulty understanding conversations in background noise or often asking people to repeat themselves, but there are additional signs present when an individual is experiencing APD, including:

  • Being easily distracted or confused
  • Struggling to follow multi-step verbal directions
  • Taking longer than normal to respond to verbal questions
  • Difficulty understanding sarcasm or jokes
  • Learning deficiencies (e.g., reading delays, dyslexia, difficulty spelling, lower than normal writing skills, difficulty sequencing information)

How Is Auditory Processing Disorder Diagnosed?

The first step in diagnosing APD is a comprehensive hearing assessment, which is usually followed by a Hearing Handicap Inventory to determine the ways in which a person is struggling as well as in which environments. Parents, teachers, and other adults often provide a great deal of input when attempting to diagnose APD in younger children.

Additional tests included for detecting APD include:

  • Auditory Figure-Ground Testing (speech understanding with background noise)
  • Auditory Closure Testing (the capacity to “fill in the gaps” of speech)
  • Dichotic Listening Testing (ability to understand meaningful speech that happens simultaneously)
  • Temporal Processing Testing (capacity to distinguish between similar speech sounds like “mat” and “pat”)
  • Binaural Interaction Testing (ability to identify the direction of sounds and localizing them in a room)

These tests can be conducted on children as young as three, although most test subjects are at least seven years old or older. Innovative electrophysiology tests, which involve the use of non-invasive electrodes to check the body’s response to speech, also provide auditory processing disorder specialists with information about the central auditory processing system.

Speech therapist helping a child with practice therapy for APD

Schedule an Assessment

Because the symptoms of APD are so similar to those associated with hearing loss, the starting point for addressing either a hearing challenge or APD is a comprehensive hearing assessment with a doctor of audiology at Denton Hearing Health Care.

To contact a professional audiologist able to diagnose and treat APD, just submit the adjacent form and a member of our team will assist you with scheduling an assessment for you or your child.

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