Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory Processing Disorder

My son was diagnosed this year with Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD). It explained so much, and also provided some further insight into how best to communicate to him and assist teachers at school.

What is CAPD or APD Auditory Processing Disorder?

Some notes below have been provided from APDUK written by Graeme Wadlow.

  • Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is the INVISIBLE Disability, which randomly prevents the sufferers from processing auditory (verbal) information.
  • APD is not a hearing impairment, as many APDs have A1 hearing, but it is the inability to process what is heard.
  • When APD’s have a processing failure, they do not process what is being said to them.
    They may be able to repeat the words back word for word, but the meaning of the message is lost, not processed.
  • Simply repeating the instruction is of no use if an APD is not processing.   Neither will increasing the volume help.
  • APD’s have an Auditory (verbal) Processing Disorder, and text is only verbal code, and so the Auditory Processing Disorder is extended into reading and writing as this Auditory code.
    As a result has been recognised as one of the major causes of Dyslexia.

There are also many other hidden implications, which are not always apparent even to the sufferer.

In many instances APD comes as part of an Invisible Disability package, and in some instances the other disability may mask the APD.   This multiple disability scenario indicates that a transdiscipline approach to research, diagnosis, and treatment is of the utmost importance.   Especially as APD can mimic many of the other Invisible Disabilities.

APD is a way of life not just a disability.

Although there is no cure for APD, there are things that the hearing clinic and the child’s school and family can do to help. We have listed some of them here.

What causes APD?

We still do not understand a lot about APD. It is possible that APD can run in families. Parents of children with APD often report they have difficulties listening and hearing, which may have started when they were young. Some children with APD may have tiny differences in the way that brain cells (called ‘neurons’) are joined together, or s…end messages to each other. This may make it hard for sounds to be passed on to the areas of the brain that help the child understand language. It is possible such brain cell differences may cause APD.

APD may also be caused by long-term middle ear disease (‘glue ear’) or by limited access to communication. In rare cases, injuries to the head may cause APD.

Clinic/Hearing Services

  • Hearing training programmes and strategies (exercises to help the child understand better when listening)
  • Parental support programmes

School/Local Education Authority

  • Child could sit near teacher’s desk to aid lip reading and other cues
  • Teacher could be asked to check child is looking and listening when instructions are given out, especially if teacher walks around when talking
  • Teacher or classroom assistant could be asked to check child has heard and understood the instructions
  • (For older children only) Teacher could be asked to provide written information which might be used to consolidate verbal instructions
  • Classroom noise could be reduced (more carpeting and soft furnishings, rubber feet on table and chair legs etc)
  • Listening devices could be provided to make speech clearer in noise – for example, a soundfield system in the main classroom or personal FM systems


  • Family could encourage the child to do any listening learning exercises as prescribed
  • Family could check if the child is looking and listening when necessary
  • Background noise in the home (such as TV or radio) could be reduced when trying to communicate.

Definition of APD

The Buffalo Model definition of APD is, “what we do with what we hear.” It is how efficiently and effectively people process what they hear.

Our notion is that APD refers to rather basic functions of the central nervous system (CNS), but we recognize that any behavioral speech test or therapeutic procedure requires some language and cognitive knowledge. There is no clear line between where auditory processing ends and where language or higher cognitive functions begin.

We do believe that understanding speech in quiet as well as in noise, dichotic listening, short-term/working auditory memory, sequencing, and sound localization are among the many functions that are heavily dependent upon auditory processing skills.

We feel particularly confident in this, in part, because such difficulties respond so well to basic auditory therapies.

Referenced from:  APD Evaluation to Therapy: The Buffalo Model
Jack Katz, Ph.D., Audiology Online Contributing Editor

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