Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)-Frequently Asked Questions

Over the last several years, the awareness for Auditory Processing Disorder has increased. With this increase, comes many questions that can be difficult to find reliable answers to. This FAQ section addresses some of the most asked questions related to APD. We hope to provide you some detailed information that may assist you in making decisions about assessment and/or treatment.

What is APD?

In its very broadest sense, APD, also known as central auditory processing disorder (CAPD), refers to how the central nervous system (CNS) uses auditory information (or spoken language).

APD is an auditory deficit that is not the result of other higher-order cognitive, language, or related disorder.

If you have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, etc., you may have listening deficits that are not related to APD, but appear similar to APD. 

Is it the same as language processing?

No.  Auditory Processing Disorder is not caused by another disorder.  The listening and comprehension difficulties we often see are due to higher-order, more global or all-encompassing disorders (ex. Autism or ADHD) and not to any specific deficit in the neural processing of auditory stimuli.  

    Who do I go to for APD testing?
    • Audiologists:  Audiologists  are the only clinicians with specialized training to truly diagnose APD.
    • Speech Therapists:  While speech therapists do NOT diagnose APD, there are a few tests that are available for speech therapists to complete that may show if APD is a concern.  Through this type of testing, a speech therapist can better determine if a referral for complete testing by an audiologist may be beneficial.
    • In some cases, psychological testing by a psychologist can be helpful to determine if there are other explanations for APD symptoms, but psychological testing alone is not sufficient for true APD evaluation. 
    Why would I want to get tested for APD?

    APD is a difficult disorder to diagnose, and many children and adults may have deficits in listening skills.  Testing can help you identify your child’s or your key issue and help you pursue more appropriate services.

    The more specific the diagnosis, the more specific the treatment.  More specific treatment usually means that there are better and longer lasting results from treatment.  School systems and colleges often require a diagnosis of APD to provide accommodations in classrooms.  

      How is it treated?

      The treatment of APD is generally broken into 3 approaches:

      1. Environmental modifications:  This approach improves access to the auditory information by changing the environment to allow the individual to process it more easily.  An example may be using amplification systems or even having the teacher write out instructions on the board to supplement spoken directions.
      2. Compensatory strategies: This approach focuses on teaching the individual how to use problem solving skills to “overcome” the APD.   An example may be learning to listen actively.
      3. Targeting the APD itself: This approach works on each area that the individual with APD struggles with.  Some programs are computer-based while others may be provided in therapy settings.  An example may be a task to work on speech-in-noise training to help the individual more easily separate noise from the important information they need to listen for.
      Is this a life-long diagnosis?

      Children or adults who are diagnosed may exhibit less severe symptoms following treatment for APD.  Some children may appear to “grow out” of the disorder, while others have some deficits related to it throughout their life. 

      The degree of improvement from therapy cannot be estimated in advance.  Everyone may respond differently to therapy, but with therapy, those diagnosed can become more successful in communication by becoming more active listeners.

        What clinics offer testing?

        There are no testing facilities in Huntsville, AL, but we do have access to several in the surrounding cities/states, including the following research centers:

        • Vanderbilt
        • University of Tennessee in Knoxville
        • University of Alabama
        How do I know if testing is a good idea?

        Typically, many professionals aid in the diagnosis of APD.  Teachers can have very valuable insights into how and when a child is struggling.  They may initially notice the difficulties associated with APD, such as difficulty following directions, frequently asking for repetitions or clarifications of things said aloud, or difficulty understanding any information given aloud.

          If you have any questions related to APD, please feel free to reach out to our team.  We would be happy to answer these questions and point you in the right direction towards getting the care you need.

          Central Auditory Processing Disorder - ASHA Overview

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          Brooke Sorrells, M.S., CCC-SLP

          Speech Language Pathologist

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