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Auditory Processing Evaluations

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Auditory processing is the term used to describe how your brain recognizes and interprets sounds. It is when this process is somehow disrupted that a disorder is present. Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) affects the brain's ability to process or interpret auditory information correctly.

After other issues, such as hearing loss or behavioral disorders, have been ruled out, an auditory processing evaluation can be done to determine if a person has an auditory processing disorder. This comprehensive testing is used to evaluate if the brain is having difficulty processing auditory signals.

Being able to hear and recognize sounds properly is important for speech and language development and learning. It's important that individuals, especially children, be evaluated as soon as they show signs of a possible auditory processing issue.

What It's Like to Have Auditory Processing Disorder?

To get an idea of what it is like to have Auditory Processing Disorder, imagine that you are in a noisy room, such as a classroom. The teacher is speaking, but you find it very hard to follow what he/she is saying because of the background noise. Because of this, you gaze out the window, or doodle on your paper. When the teacher calls your name several times, you don't respond. Finally, she comes and touches your shoulder and says your name. You look up, only to realize that everyone in the room has been trying to get your attention verbally.

This is just one example of what it may be like to have auditory processing disorder. It can be frustrating. They symptoms often mimick hearing loss.

Symptoms of Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory processing disorder can look different in each individual. Symptoms of the disorder are almost always worsened by noisy or overly stimulating environments.

Here are some possible symptoms of APD:

  • Difficulty listening in background noise
  • Difficulty following complex oral instructions
  • Variable responses to auditory stimuli, on a day-to-day basis.
  • Easily distracted, impulsive, and frustrated when too much noise is present
  • Short auditory attention span; easily tired or bored during required listening activities
  • Appearance of day dreaming or not listening
  • Verbal requests are often met with “huh?”, even with no hearing loss,  after several repetitions
  • Difficulty with reading and spelling

Requirements for Auditory Processing Evaluation

Prior to an auditory processing evaluation, other evaluations and tests should be done to rule out common disorders and abnormalities. These evaluations may be also performed by the Audiologist, a Psychologist, or school personnel. Candidates for Auditory Processing testinging must be a developmental age of seven, in order for the testing to be valid.

A comprehensive hearing test should be completed prior to an auditory processing evaluation. Because the evaluation requires verbal responses  from the person being evaluated, their cognitive and expressive speech skills should be sufficiently developed. Attention deficit disorder can influence processing evaluation's results.

Auditory processing disorder can be challenging to live with, both for the person with the disorder and the people in their lives. An auditory processing evaluation will not solve the problem, but it can give insight as to why the individual may be having problems at school, home, or work. The evaluation can provide guidance for the professional to help develop strategies and recommendations to lessen the impact of the disorder and help the individual succeed at school, at work and in other situations. The Audiologist may  also give recommendations as to other professionals who might help.