Communication Matters

What is Auditory Processing and How Does it Work?

Bridgid M. Whitford Au.D, CCC-A | Posted on April 25, 2018

2 ladies reading at tableAuditory processing is basically how hearing works between the ear and the brain. It consists of a specific set of skills that most of us perform without any difficulty – or awareness. These include:

Sound Localization (determining where a sound is coming from)

Auditory Discrimination (the ability to hear the difference between words and sounds that sound alike or are acoustically similar)

Auditory Pattern Recognition (the ability to hear rhythm, stress and intonation in speech)
Temporal Aspects of Audition (time-related aspects such as hearing the difference between “cast” and “cats”)

Auditory performance in competing acoustic signals (listening to different messages in each ear)

Auditory performance with degraded acoustic signals (the ability to understand the whole message when part of it is missing, such as what happens in background noise) 

What is an Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)?

If a person has difficulty performing auditory processing skills, often they will have difficulties that are noticeable to others. Some common symptoms of APD include:

• Normal hearing, yet responds inconsistently to auditory stimuli
• Difficulty following long or complicated verbal commands
• Requests for information to be repeated often
• Poor sound blending (while reading or spelling, may say or read “top” for “stop”, “bend” for “blend”, “tip” for “trip”, etc.)
• Trouble paying attention to and remembering verbal information
• Poor listening skills
• Needs more time to process information
• Low academic performance
• Behavior problems
• Language difficulty (confuses syllable sequences and has problems developing vocabulary and understanding language)
• Difficulty with reading, comprehension and spelling

How to Test for ADP

ADP testing is typically scheduled for a 2-hour time period. The time is divided into 3 segments: the first half-hour is spent obtaining a thorough case history, and hour is necessary for testing, and the last half-hour is used to explain the results. If necessary, the session can be scheduled as two separate visits.

Testing is completed in a sound-proof booth by an audiologist. We begin with a basic hearing test to rule out hearing loss as the cause for the difficulties.

We prefer to conduct testing in the morning, when clients are well-rested. After a day of school or work, it is difficult to concentrate for the length of time required.

If the client takes any medications, including those which enhance attention, he or she should take them the day of testing.

The auditory processing tests include assessments in 4 major areas

Tests in which the signal is compromised (distorted speech or listening with background noise)

Tests in which the person must listen to different messages in each ear

Tests of timing, in which the person must identify a pattern or hear short changes in time

Tests that present part of a message to one ear and part to the other ear – the person must combine them to hear the entire message

APD testing should be completed as part of an entire test battery. Other language and learning disorders need to be ruled out in order to get an accurate diagnosis.

Tags: Audiology, Hearing, Learning



see all