Auditory processing disorder: symptoms, causes and treatment

Understanding oral speech is a key aspect of human interactions. Communication is based on this aspect, and if we cannot understand others, it is clear that we have a serious problem.

Auditory processing disorder is a condition in which a person has serious problems understanding others., As it confuses the phonemes and makes it difficult to understand the general meaning of the sentences said.

It’s a somewhat controversial disorder, as there is still no consensus on what traits define it or what diagnostic criteria to follow. Below we will take a closer look at this auditory processing problem.

    What is an auditory processing disorder?

    Before explaining auditory processing disorder, it is necessary to explain what is meant by auditory processing. We understand it as the process that takes place in the brain when acoustic stimuli are recognized and interpreted. Humans feel when the physical vibrations, which affect our eardrum, travel to the brain through nerve impulses. There, it will be interpreted in different regions, which will allow us to understand the phonemes and words that compose it, and thus to understand speech.

    In auditory processing disorder, an affectation of this process occurs. This disorder is also known as central auditory processing disorder, auditory perception problem, auditory comprehension deficit, central auditory dysfunction, central deafness, and speech deafness.

    Children with hearing impairments they often fail to differentiate sounds from words, even if they are loud and clear. For example, they may confuse words like “duck”, “cat” and “dish”. If we ask them “what do a well and a chicken look like?” The child with this disorder can understand that they have been asked “what is a bear and a hole swinging at?”. and respond to something that won’t make sense.


      Children with hearing impairments have normal intelligence and hearing. Their difficulties in processing auditory information they are not due to injury to the eardrum or intellectual disability. However, having this syndrome results in a high degree of social and academic dysfunction as they do not understand a lot of things that are said to them. Among the main problems that we can find, we can mention:

      • Hearing discrimination: recognize, compare and distinguish different sounds.
      • Figure Background Hearing Discrimination: Focus on important sounds (conversation) in a background sound environment (ambient noise).
      • Auditory memory: remember what was heard orally.
      • Auditory sequencing: understand and memorize the order of sounds and words.

      They have difficulty paying attention to what is being said to them and remembering information presented to them orally, which shows poor hearing ability. For this reason, their academic performance is poor. How to confuse sequences of syllables, they have trouble developing vocabulary and understanding the languageSomething that comes in the form of difficulties also in reading and spelling.

      In addition, they find it difficult to execute multi-step instructions, which results in them needing more time to process the information. This causes them great frustration which, especially in children, turns into aggressiveness and tension, giving them behavioral problems.

      the causes

      It is not known exactly what causes the auditory processing disorder. Human communication does not only depend on the ability to listen, but also requires certain mental abilities, such as attention and memory.

      again it is not clear exactly how memory and attention fail in speech disorders as is the case with auditory processing disorders. Even if the child does not have appreciable hearing damage, he may have serious difficulty applying sounds to the tongue.

      It has been hypothesized that auditory processing disorder may be related to dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, autism spectrum disorders, developmental penetration disorders, or developmental delay. It should be noted that the conceptualization of this disorder is unclear and has often been diagnosed with auditory processing disorder in people who only had learning disabilities.


      Auditory processing disorder is a problem that is the subject of much controversy because there is no consensus that this in itself is a disorder. The fact that there are several definitions of it does not help and its diagnosis is not very precise. Although these are not diagnostic criteria, some of the following signs are common in people with this disorder:

      • Difficulty following verbal instructions, especially in multiple steps.
      • Frequently ask people to repeat what they have said.
      • Difficulty following a conversation, especially if there are several interlocutors.
      • Easily distracted by background noises or sudden, loud noises.
      • Difficulty remembering details of things that have been read or heard.
      • Reading or writing problems.
      • Take the time to respond when someone speaks to them.
      • Difficulty distinguishing where sounds or a conversation are coming from.
      • Respond to nonsense.

      Auditory processing disorder is usually first seen in childhood, although children with it are usually not evaluated until they are 7 years old. Before the age of 7, communication skills are still being learnedIt is therefore not surprising to find that the child has difficulties at some point, which does not necessarily mean pathology. After 7 years, if several signals are detected, there is cause for concern. The diagnosis can also be made in adults.

      It goes without saying there are other disorders that can be mistaken for an auditory processing disorder. Problems with functional memory can also be found in ADHD. In fact, there is a good chance that the diagnosis is confused between these two disorders, or that the child is directly diagnosed with both.

      Either way, the first step in knowing if a child has this disorder is to make sure that he or she has no problem with the eardrum. He may have had a hearing damage which is why he can’t seem to hear us. Another aspect to be excluded is intellectual disability, turning to psychologists and pediatricians to detect possible developmental or cognitive disorders.

      Once we have seen that the problem is neither in the sense nor in the intelligence of the child, You will turn to other professionals who will test you for your bass-treble range, if you understand all the words and phrases you are being told, if you understand the numbers spoken orally … tasks all that will move interdisciplinary team of developmental psychologists, audiologists and speech therapists. With their work, they will detect any auditory processing problems that may arise.


      The main treatment for this disorder is speech therapy or speech therapy. It is essential to teach communication skills and language comprehension, in order to increase their hearing. Teach them to pay close attention to phonemes and to educate the ear so that it can concentrate on a main conversation, trying to omit background noise.

      Learning new words and improving language are key aspects in reducing the severity of auditory processing disorders. One of the problems with this disorder is that the child does not have very good auditory memory, which is why working on this skill can be essential in reducing the negative impact of this disorder.

      The task of the psychologist is very important for teach the family strategies to deal with the child’s frustration at not being able to understand what is being explained to them. Educational intervention will also be necessary, Try to apply strategies that can compensate for their hearing problems, such as spending more time reading the program or asking teachers for more personalized explanations.

      One of the most interesting strategies in the classroom is the use of auditory instructors, which allow the person to focus their attention on a speaker and reduce background noise interference. They can be used in the classroom, where the teacher uses a microphone to transmit sound to the child with this disorder, who will have headphones to reduce background noise, such as side conversations, and so focus only on what the teacher is saying, listening in the crispest and clearest way possible.

      How can you help people with this disorder?

      While psychologists, audiologists, doctors, pediatricians, otolaryngologists and other professionals who are linked to this disorder are the ones who will offer effective treatments to improve the quality of life of people with hearing impairment, family and friends. can help. mess as follows.

      • Give simple, one-step instructions.
      • Speak more slowly and with more volume.
      • Provide a quiet place to talk or work.
      • Be patient and repeat things if they don’t get it.

      The most important thing is to understand that it is not that the person stops paying attention on purpose. or who does not want to understand. He has a problem that makes everyday life very difficult for him and what he needs is to understand his surroundings. It is very important to try to make it easier for him to understand what is being said to him and not to be frustrated when he sees that he does not understand us. With the right pace and volume, plus a little patience, he managed to get what we were saying to him.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Music, Frank; Gail, Chermak (2007). Central Auditory Processing Disorder Handbook [auditory neuroscience and diagnosis]. Editorial Plural. p. 448.
      • Chermak GD, FE Music (2002). Hearing training: principles and approaches for the correction and management of auditory processing disorders. Hearing Seminars 23 (4): 287-295. ISSN 0734-0451

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