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Auditory Processing Disorder in Children

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By GreatSchools Staff

What current research is being conducted?

In recent years, scientists have developed new ways to study the human brain through imaging. Imaging is a powerful tool that allows the monitoring of brain activity without any surgery. Imaging studies are already giving scientists new insights into auditory processing. Some of these studies are directed at understanding auditory processing disorders. One of the values of imaging is that it provides an objective, measurable view of a process. Many of the symptoms described as related to APD are described differently by different people.

Imaging will help identify the source of these symptoms. Other scientists are studying the central auditory nervous system. Cognitive neuroscientists are helping to describe how the processes that mediate sound recognition and comprehension work in both normal and disordered systems.

Research into the rehabilitation of child language disorders continues. It is important to know that much research is still needed to understand auditory processing problems, related disorders, and the best interventions for each child or adult. All the strategies undertaken will need to be suited to the needs of the individual child, and their effectiveness will need to be continuously evaluated. The standard for determining if a treatment is effective is that a patient can reasonably expect to benefit from it.

What treatments are available for auditory processing difficulty?

Much research is still needed to understand APD problems, related disorders, and the best intervention for each child or adult. Several strategies are available to help children with auditory processing difficulties. Some of these are commercially available, but have not been fully studied. Any strategy selected should be used under the guidance of a team of professionals, and the effectiveness of the strategy needs to be evaluated. Researchers are currently studying a variety of approaches to treatment. Several strategies you may hear about include:

  • Auditory trainers are electronic devices that allow a person to focus attention on a speaker and reduce the interference of background noise. They are often used in classrooms, where the teacher wears a microphone to transmit sound and the child wears a headset to receive the sound. Children who wear hearing aids can use them in addition to the auditory trainer.
  • Environmental modifications such as classroom acoustics, placement, and seating may help. An audiologist may suggest ways to improve the listening environment, and he or she will be able to monitor any changes in hearing status.
  • Exercises to improve language-building skills can increase the ability to learn new words and increase a child 's language base.
  • Auditory memory enhancement, a procedure that reduces detailed information to a more basic representation, may help. Also, informal auditory training techniques can be used by teachers and therapists to address specific difficulties.
  • Auditory integration training may be promoted by practitioners as a way to retrain the auditory system and decrease hearing distortion. However, current research has not proven the benefits of this treatment.

Source: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), one of the National Institutes of Health. Internet: NIH Pub. No. 01-4949 (Page last)

Reviewed 2010

Comments from readers

"very informative. good article "
"I find it so frustrating that the school system is so backwards. Rather than being proactive they will wait for my 8 year old to fail. How frustrating is it too that because we do not qualify for food stamps, our daughter is not eligable even for supplemental help in NJ. ( NO Child Left Behind Act) I have been basically ignored by the Child Study team and her teachers. Now I feel that they are just pushing her through the system. She gets work back littered with comments and exclamation points, yet i am told she is passing. My daughter comes home and tells me she feels stupid and that the only thing she is good at is spelling, because she can memorize it. It's $125.00 a week for speech thearpy which she desperatly needs. My child needs help, I pay taxes, help her! "
"Check out neurofeedback. Amazing things are happening for kids with ALL types of learning disorders, including auditory processing, due to advances in this area. Especially if your child has auditory processing AND another difficulty such as ADHD. We have seen amazing results without drugs and is completely non-invasive. I feel a real need to tell everyone because of the many misdiagnosis, and years of frustration. We've finally found help to 'cure' these issues. Best of luck to all the parents out there. You are not alone. "
"Great article! May I mention the Able Kids Foundation in Fort Collins, Colorado and their Central Auditory Processing Center that deals with assistance for individuals with APD, especially children."
"This is a reply to Nancy Talcott. I have a story for you. Feel free to email me "
"We are looking to speak to parents of children who have CAPD---whose children are aware that they have it (ages 7-14) and how it impacts their lives. Emmy winning filmmaking team working on major cable television network sensitive, non-exploitative documentary on children with learning differences. NO CHILD MAY PARTICIPATE WITHOUT WRITTEN PARENTAL CONSENT. For more information please contact LDFILM@AOL.COM"
"I'm working on a documentary on children (7-12) with learning differences and am looking for children with auditory processing disorders (apart from those that are often associated with autism) I would love to speak with anyone (and provide the necessary documentation, etc) who has a child or can put me in touch with a family who has a child who fits this profile. This is a film about children, for children, and by children meant to shatter myths about LDs and empower those who participate in it. Nancy.Talcott@hbo.comb"
"My 10 year old son has just been diagnosed with APD. Now I know why he has such a hard time reading. I need help!! I would like to hear from other parents as to how they have helped there child with this disorder. What can I do to help my son better understand his disorder? Other than just read, read and read, to help him improve his reading skills, who can I turn to to help him learn how to read with his disability? His will be enrolled in RSP at his school, but what can I do to help him at home to catch up with his class? Any advise will be appreciated. Thank-you!!"
"The things I need to learn about!"
"Great article! I found it to be very insightful. There is an integrated movement/listening option available, as well. Check out"
"Our son was recently diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder, but the schools won't do anything. He's just turned 7, and they say he is too young and doesn't have the attention span to do Fast ForWord. Aren't the schools suppose to do something? I found this site (CAPD Support) that lists a lot of therapies, but the school is saying they are unproven and therefore won't do them. Where can I go to find out what the guidelines are for school interventions?"
"i have apd and i find this really intresting. When my mum and dad told me what i had i didnt understand but this has made it alot cleare to me . THank you"
"To whom it may concern: My daughter has been diagnosed with auditory processing disorder. We have been adised to see a therapist in the Atlanta area for a cost of $500 per month. Are there any other resources you could recommend? Are there other resources we could use in the Atlanta area? Any help would be appreciated! Regards Mark"
"Please consider adding the book 'Don't You Get It? Living With Auditory Learning Disabilities' to your list of resources. The book describes what and APD is, how to get tested for it, as well as treatments. The book also has personal accounts of people who have lived with the disorder and have successful careers despite their APD. You can view the book at"
"My son was diagnosed with apd at the end of kindergarten. After years of advocating for him, I had myself tested and was diagnosed with apd in my 40's. I have since co-authored a book with a nationally known audiologist by the name of Jay Lucker. The title of the book is 'Don't You Get It? Living With Auditory Learning Disabilities.' It goes over what an apd is, how to test for it, how to treat it, as well as first hand accounts of people who have lived with it. The book is available at"
"I've read through 5 or 6 articles tonight in preparation for a technology-assistance evaluation meeting for my daughter who is dylexsic and has auditory processing disorder. All of them were spot on and, I believe, will equip me well for my meeting. I've printed out a couple of them as reference sources for my meeting. Thank you for making it so easy to find resources and for formatting them in a fashion that makes them easy to read and print."