Auditory processing disorder (APD) is a condition in which the brain is unable to properly process sound. As a result, people with this condition frequently receive inaccurate information.
Sufferers of auditory processing disorder may find it difficult to distinguish between similar words. For example, the sufferer may hear “Please, give me this frog” when someone says “Please, share this box.” This condition, however, is distinct from deafness and learning disabilities.
Auditory processing disorder can happen to anyone, but this condition is more common in children, especially boys.
Causes of APD
It is not known what causes auditory processing disorder. However, this condition is associated with the following diseases and conditions:
- Glue ear or fluid buildup in the middle ear
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- History of lead exposure and poisoning
- genetic factors
- Otitis media
- Brain hemorrhage
- Head injury
- Multiple sclerosis
- Brain tumor
Symptoms of APD
Symptoms of auditory processing disorder can vary in each patient, ranging from mild to severe. Some of the symptoms are:
- Difficulty distinguishing words with similar sounds, such as a box with a frog
- Difficulty understanding speech, especially when the atmosphere is busy, when other people are talking too fast, or when more than one person is talking
- Adversity concentrating or paying attention to speech, so it takes a long time to respond and often asks others to repeat what they are saying
- Difficulty remembering spoken commands, especially if the command consists of several stages
- Difficulty learning or enjoying music
- Difficult to find sound source
When to go to the doctor
Check with your doctor if you or your child experience any of the above symptoms or signs. In school-age children, auditory processing disorder that is not detected and treated early can cause learning disorders. Auditory processing disorder can also affect language and speaking skills.
Auditory processing disorder is often associated with dyslexia or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These three conditions sometimes look similar, but have fundamental differences.
To ensure the condition and determine the appropriate treatment, it is necessary to carry out a thorough examination.
Diagnosis of APD
The doctor will ask about the patient’s symptoms and medical history, followed by a physical examination. However, in contrast to hearing tests in general, tests to diagnose auditory processing disorder are more complicated and specific, such as:
- Test the sufferer’s ability to hear sounds with different noise backgrounds
- Examine the patient’s hearing ability when talking to fast-talking people
- Test the sufferer’s listening ability when talking to people with different accents
- Testing the patient’s hearing ability in conditions with poor sound quality
In addition to the tests above, the doctor will also perform a hearing test using electrodes. This test is done by putting headphones into the patient’s ears and placing electrodes on the patient’s head, to assess the patient’s brain response to sound.
The doctor will also perform speech and language tests as well as a cognitive examination to assess the patient’s mindset.
Treatment of APD
Auditory processing disorder cannot be treated yet. Even so, there are several treatment methods that can help improve the patient’s hearing ability.
Especially in children, the hearing system is not fully formed until he grows up to be a teenager. So, children with auditory processing disorder can train and develop their listening skills as they get older.
Therapy for auditory processing disorder can be done with the help of a doctor or independently at home. Some of these therapies are:
- Hearing therapy, to train the patient’s brain to analyze sound better, by doing exercises to detect sound sources and focus on listening to certain sounds when there is noise
- Speech therapy, to improve children’s ability to communicate and recognize sounds, and can also be done for people who have difficulty reading
- Other therapies, such as exercises to remember things and solve problems
In addition to the therapy above, there are several things you can do to help improve your hearing, such as:
- Choose a seat in the front row when the teacher teaches
- Reduce or eliminate noise that can cause noise such as TV, fan or radio
- Using frequency modulation, which is a loudspeaker that is connected to the patient’s ear
For the patient’s family or colleagues, there are several things you can do to help practice the patient’s listening skills, namely:
- Avoid speaking quickly, unclearly, or at length to the patient
- Says word for word very clearly, so that the patient understands the sentence conveyed
- Use pictures to help patients understand what they are trying to convey
- Emphasize the message or order to be conveyed to the patient
- Repeat information until the patient understands the meaning of the conversation
Complications of APD
Auditory processing disorder does not cause serious complications. However, if it is too late to receive treatment, this condition can cause learning disorders. Children who suffer from this condition can live normal lives and achieve achievements like other children, as long as the environment around them supports the process of developing their hearing ability.
Prevention of APD
As explained above, it is not yet known what causes auditory processing disorder. Therefore, it is not yet known how to prevent this disease.
However, you can reduce your risk of developing auditory processing disorder by avoiding the preventable factors associated with this disease. For example, avoiding middle ear infection or otitis media by:
- Implement a clean lifestyle, such as routine hand washing
- Avoid exposure to chemicals, including lead and cigarette smoke
- Check your pregnancy to the doctor regularly
- Carry out immunizations according to schedule