Auditory Processing Disorders

What is an Auditory Processing Disorder?

Hearing is very complex. While our ears detect sounds, our brain helps us figure out what sounds mean. A person with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) can hear sounds, but their brain can’t interpret them. The result? The sounds they hear are unclear and garbled. This can happen because of head injuries, strokes, or brain maturation.

Symptoms of APD include:

  • Difficulty hearing if there is too much background noise
  • Difficulty following conversations
  • Difficulty following spoken instructions with many steps (like directions)
  • Speech delay from a young age
  • Difficulty spelling, reading, and understanding information spoken in the classroom
  • Shows attention issues
  • May get easily distracted by sounds
  • May get tired after listening for long periods of time
  • Often says "huh?" or "what?"

Anyone over the age of seven with these symptoms should be referred for testing!

How do I get tested?

First, the audiologist will check for any signs of hearing loss. If there is hearing loss, it should be treated. If you need more tests, the audiologist will set up an auditory processing assessment.

An auditory processing assessment is a mix of specialized listening tests. These tests target different areas in the brain that help us hear. The audiologist may also use tests called auditory evoked potentials, where you sit quietly in a chair listening to sounds while the audiologist records your brain activity from sensors placed on your head.

What can be done for an auditory processing disorder?

After determining the type of problem, the audiologist will recommend an individualized treatment plan.

Who can refer?

Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Centres has an open referral policy whereby parents/caregivers, teachers, doctors and related professionals with parental consent may refer a child for assessment. Individuals may also refer themselves.

Send in the APD case history form with your referral. It also helps to forward any reports from other professionals who have tested the client (such as a speech-language pathologist, teacher or psychologist).

Click here to download the APD case history form

Click here to download the NSHSC referral form

How do I make a referral?

Referrals and questions may be directed to your local NSHSC site.