Auditory Processing Disorders (APD) – also known as Central Auditory Processing Disorders (CAPD) – is an umbrella term that describes a variety of hearing disorders which result from a breakdown in the brain’s hearing and listening processing abilities. In short, the brains of people with APD cannot fully understand the information contained in sound.
As a hearing disorder, it’s important to note that APD does not impact on the ability to hear. Instead, it causes individuals to have difficulty in understanding speech and working out what direction certain sounds are coming from.
Spatial Processing Disorders
A common type of APD is called Spatial Processing Disorder (SPD). It occurs when the brain’s normal auditory processing abilities are unable to selectively focus on sounds coming from one direction and suppressing sounds coming in from other directions. The result is a frustrating inability to hear and locate specific sounds in a listener’s immediate environment.
Symptoms of Auditory Processing Disorders
As a result, APD sufferers experience difficulties in hearing and understanding conversations over background noise or have trouble locating certain sounds. Children who have APD can experience difficulty learning in a classroom environment.
Unlike other more common hearing problems, APD can occur infrequently so that individuals can have no problems processing different sounds one day and the next day, they struggle to make sense of the sounds that surround them.
The video below taken from the ABC TV’s Catalyst Show provides a good overview on Auditory Processing Disorders, including Spatial Processing Disorders.
There are a variety of therapies, training programs, and strategies available to help children and adults manage the condition, including SPD. The HEARing Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) is also currently undertaking research to better understand and treat individuals with APD.