Auditory Processing Disorder

I wanted first of all to say a special thank you to Sandy (@aspieteach) for her great post My Visit To The Audiologist and a tweet about having problems understanding accents due to her APD.  If she hadn’t written either of those, I wouldn’t have bothered learning more about APD and wouldn’t had a massive Ah-ha! moment this morning.

I had heard the term Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) before in relation to kids with autism or sensory processing disorders and knew vaguely it was a problem with interpreting speech.   They can hear fine, they just can’t make sense of what is being said.   What I didn’t know if that this is not the whole story of APD.  APD can also manifest in different ways.  Sandy in her post talked about tolerance which is being unable to distinguish speech from background noise.  I had a little ‘me too’ moment once I read that.  Mobile phones used to be pretty much useless for me, except SMS, because I never could hear the person on the other end properly as being out and about the background noise & the speech just melted into one big noise.  My mobile conversation were pretty much limited to “I will have to call you back”, which basically negated the fact of having a mobile in the first place.  People soon learnt to SMS me if I wasn’t at home and that was a great solution but not always practical.  My new phone (HTC Magic) has a volume control on it not only for the ring volume but for the actual call as well.  Pushing it up to its highest, so that everyone around me can probably hear the conversation,  I was finally able to have an actual conversation whilst out of the house.  Also having conversations in noisy places like bars or if people next to be are also talking are troublesome and something I avoid.  Therefore I don’t go to bars often because what’s the point if I can’t hear what anyone says to me.

Another issue I have always had is being unable to interpret sounds into written symbols.  When I was a kid we learnt to spell by sounding out the word, this doesn’t work for me because I can sound out the word but I can’t translate the letter sounds into actual letters.  I’m okay with individual letter sounds, but combinations of them, forget it.  This was never picked up at school because I learnt to compensate for it.  No one noticed that given a brand new word I could never spell it because I would ace spelling tests by rote learning how to spell the words.  What I never realised is that this is a symptom of APD. I always thought I was dumb because I couldn’t spell words by sounding them out. It is also why I struggle to learn foreign languages as I can’t pronounce unknown words that I see written down as the sounds those letter combinations make just aren’t stored in my brain.

Accents are another thing I have major problems with and it is the one that causes me the most embarrassment as I feel I’m offending the person I’m talking to.  The person may speak English perfectly, but if they have an accent, I simply can’t understand what they are saying.  There is a whole branch of my family living in Scotland that I can’t communicate with because of this issue.  As a kid going to visit them, this was so embarrassing as no one else had any problems communicating except me.

If you suspect that you or your child has an Auditory Processing Disorder, check out this wonderful checklist of symptoms.  I probably won’t pursue any formal testing as the problems I have are quite minor in the scheme of things, but if you have major problems it is definitely something worth checking out.

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About Meg

A thirty something queer Aussie geek girl who now lives in Germany.
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5 Responses to Auditory Processing Disorder

  1. Fiona says:

    yup, HUGE links between APD kids and those who get Asperger’s diagnoses. (and those parents who are happy to hear thei child has CAPD and then don’t want to pursue teh Asp diagnosis, but that’s another story!) …

    Most places in Australia won’t assess until a kid is 8, mostly due to difficulties with differential diagnosis, making sure they have enough language skills to make the assessment for APD. But can be worthwhile pursuing. Good to check the phonological aweareness and langauge skills first.

    <3 your friendly local speech pathologist :p

  2. GermanAspie says:

    Hi, that’s an interesting topic you describe. I’m diagnosed with AS. Regarding to the Auditory Processing Disorder, maybe you can answer me a question.

    I have very good ears and I am able to hear everything, but I am often not able to locate respectively to filter certain individual sounds, words or speeches out. Also loud noises hurts my ears and sometimes my whole body.

    What do you think …. Are these restrictions already significant for an auditory processing problem.

    • Riayn says:

      From what you have described, I would suggest getting it checked out. Because I’m not a medical expert I can’t say whether you have an auditory processing problem or not.

  3. GermanAspie says:

    I know you are not an expert. My question was just to get a pre-assessment.
    Therefore based on my description it could already be that an investigation would be useful.

    Thanks for your support!

  4. Johnb91 says:

    Howdy very nice web site!! Guy .. Excellent .. Superb .. I’ll bookmark your web site and take the feeds additionallyI am glad to search out so many helpful info here in the put up, we want develop more techniques in this regard, thanks for sharing. adddeedegeea

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