Professional Auditory Processing Evaluations for Patients of All Ages
Have you or your child been struggling to understand speech—especially in a loud area—or follow verbal instructions, even if you could hear it clearly? It may not be hearing loss, but there is a real possibility that it could be auditory processing disorder (APD). Vibrant Hearing provides auditory processing evaluations that can diagnose APD in children and adults, and our audiologists will help you or your child learn how to manage this condition to maintain the best possible quality of life.
About Auditory Processing Disorder
Also known as central auditory processing disorder, APD is not strictly an ear-related issue. In fact, many patients with APD don’t have any problems with hearing loss. It’s actually a neurological condition. APD prevents the central nervous system from properly processing auditory input, which can have profound effects on a person’s communication and social skills. The disorder often shows up in younger patients and is estimated to appear in 5% to 7% of school-aged children (more often with boys than girls), but it can also present itself when patients are older for a variety of reasons.
Symptoms of Auditory Processing Disorder
Because APD affects the brain’s ability to process verbal information, you or your child may first chalk it up to hearing loss. But if you’ve been diagnosed with normal hearing, consider an auditory processing evaluation if you’re experiencing difficulties with:
- Following a series of directions
- Telling different sounds apart
- Writing down verbally communicated information
- Pinpointing the exact location a sound is coming from
- Reading, writing, and other academics
- Understanding what people say and often asking them to repeat themselves
- Processing information that was quickly spoken
- Maintaining attention while a speaker’s voice is muffled or distorted
- Understanding speech when there is background noise
- Learning a language
- Interpreting sarcasm or jokes
Possible Causes of Auditory Processing Disorder
Auditory processing disorder has been linked to genetics as well as several conditions that affect patients young and old, including:
- Head injuries, especially traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Chronic ear infections throughout childhood
- Seizure disorders
- Being born prematurely or with a low birth weight
- Lead poisoning or ototoxic exposure
- Neurological disorders
Your Auditory Processing Test
Patients age 7 and older are eligible for auditory processing evaluations. Also, a hearing test must be completed within six months of the auditory processing evaluation date in order to help your audiologist determine whether you’re being affected by hearing loss or possible APD. We will send a pre-appointment questionnaire to learn your medical history, communication concerns, and any symptoms you’ve experienced, and your audiologist will go over the results with you before testing begins.
After a physical examination of the ears, your audiologist will then guide you through a series of tests to assess your ability to understand speech under various conditions. You can expect your auditory processing evaluation to take 90 minutes to two hours to complete, though Vibrant Hearing will accommodate your needs should you require an additional appointment to complete your testing (this happens only if the allotted time is not enough to meet your needs).
After Your Auditory Processing Disorder Diagnosis
Auditory processing disorder has proven to be tough to diagnose, as its symptoms are shared with other communication disorders such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. For this reason, it’s important to see a hearing care provider for an auditory processing evaluation if you or your child exhibits any APD symptoms. If APD is diagnosed, your audiologist will schedule a follow-up appointment to walk you through your next steps and recommend a treatment plan suited specifically to your needs.
Helping You Manage Auditory Processing Disorder
From the initial auditory processing evaluation to the APD management plan, Vibrant Hearing will be with you or your child every step of the way. We will individually tailor your plan to meet your needs, mitigate your functional weaknesses, and help you play to your strengths as you adapt to life with APD. This often requires a multidisciplinary approach with help from speech-language pathologists, direct skills training, modified environments, technology, and other factors working in concert.
Get Started Today
To schedule your auditory processing evaluation and accompanying hearing test, and to learn more about APD, contact Vibrant Hearing. We’re proud to serve patients from all over Western Montana at our Missoula hearing clinic.