Auditory processing disorder (APD)
Auditory processing disorder (APD) is where you have difficulty understanding sounds, including spoken words. There are things you can do that can help.
Symptoms of auditory processing disorder (APD)
APD often starts in childhood but some people develop it later.
If you or your child have APD, you may find it difficult to understand:
- people speaking in noisy places
- people with strong accents or fast talkers
- similar sounding words
- spoken instructions
APD is not a hearing problem. People with the condition usually have normal hearing.
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:
- you or your child find it hard to hear or understand speech
The GP may refer you to a hearing specialist.
Tests for auditory processing disorder (APD)
To test for APD you may be asked to:
- listen to speech with background noise
- spot small changes in sounds
- fill in missing parts of words
Other tests may include:
- having electrodes on your head to measure how your brain reacts to sound
- speech and language tests
- memory, problem-solving and concentration tests
Testing for APD is not usually done on children under 7 years old.
Treating auditory processing disorder (APD)
There is no cure for APD but there are things that can help.
Treatment usually involves activities to improve listening and concentration. This is called auditory training. You can do it with a hearing specialist or in your own time online.
To reduce background noise, school children with APD may be advised to wear a wireless earpiece that connects to a tiny microphone worn by their teacher.
Things you can do to help with auditory processing disorder (APD)
There are things that you and other people can do to help with your APD.
talk face to face
use pictures and text
repeat or rephrase things if necessary
use carpet and soft furnishings to reduce room noise
do not cover your mouth when talking
do not talk in long complicated sentences
do not speak too fast or too slow
do not have background noise, like TV and radio
Causes of auditory processing disorder (APD)
It's not always clear what causes APD.
Possible causes include:
- regular ear infections
- a faulty gene
- head injury
- complications at birth
Page last reviewed: 21 September 2020
Next review due: 21 September 2023