By: Meghan Sullivan, MS OTR/L

Here at CommuniKids, our occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists had the pleasure of taking a thirteen-hour course provided by Julia Harper, Ph.D., M.S., OTR/L, and Aimee Levin Weiner, Au.D called “Treating APD. Successful Treatment Techniques for Auditory Processing Disorders.” Some key takeaways that were provided from this course are summarized below:

What is Auditory Processing Disorder?

Children with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) display difficulty with processing the information they hear, even though there are no deficits with their auditory receptors (hearing) or structures of the brain. With APD, there is a breakdown in how the information is moving from the receptors through the central nervous system. This presents as difficulty understanding and remembering auditory information. In addition, children with APD may have trouble learning to read or expressing themselves.

Occupational therapists (OTs) and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) play an important role in helping children with APD. They recognize and understand the multiple types of APD and how those types manifest in different ways. Based on this knowledge, OTs and SLPs can choose appropriate treatment interventions and make necessary recommendations.

5 Types of Auditory Processing Disorders

There are five types of Auditory Processing Disorders. The types of APD are located in different areas of the brain and require different treatments. Occupational therapy and speech and language therapy incorporate brain-based interventions that focus on identifying and improving the underlying problem to efficiently improve auditory processing.

Type 1: Auditory Decoding/Discrimination

Auditory Decoding/Discrimination is located at the midbrain level. It refers to the ability to analyze and interpret sounds that are heard in a noisy environment. A child with APD may display difficulty with understanding sound in an environment with soft or rapid speech, when they are far away from the speaker, or when listening in a noisy classroom. In addition, decoding/discrimination includes phonemic synthesis, which is the ability to hear the sound, blend the sound, and produce the word verbally. If a child demonstrates difficulty with this skill, it may impact their ability to read. 

Type 2: Auditory Organization 

Auditory organization is located at the refined cerebellum level. It consists of two subtypes: auditory memory and auditory sequencing. This is the ability to remember spoken sequences such as numbers, words, or sentences. A child may present with challenges such as:

  • Forgetting instructions in the classroom  
  • Remembering only certain portions of instructions 
  • Requiring prompting to complete activities accurately
  • Difficulty learning new vocabulary or information 

Type 3: Auditory Prosodics 

Auditory Prosodics is located at the right-brain level. Children with an APD at this level may present with:

  • Difficulty identifying melodies
  • May have monotone speech patterns
  • Understanding of details but difficulty understanding the big picture (i.e., getting the main idea)
  • Difficulty with the non-verbal skills of language (e.g., inferences, idioms, nuances, sarcasm, social cues, and/or social etiquette) 

Type 4: Auditory Association 

Auditory Association is located at the left-brain level. It is the part of the brain that is responsible for processing sound signals that the brain interprets as sounds, speech, or music. A child with a breakdown at this level may demonstrate difficulty with language comprehension (e.g., vocabulary, rules of language, and reading comprehension) and language expression (e.g., vocabulary, rules of language, organizing thoughts, and written expression). 

Type 5: Auditory Integration

Auditory Integration is located at the corpus callosum level. The corpus callosum is the bridge for communication between the right and left brain. This skill refers to the ability to synthesize information that is heard and perform tasks utilizing right and left brain integration (e.g., listening to a lecture and writing notes at the same time). If a child has a breakdown at this level, the following challenges may be seen:

  • Slow processing of oral information
  • Difficulty following multi-step directions
  • Getting the details but missing the main idea OR getting the main idea but missing the details 
  • Issues learning to read and poor reading comprehension
  • Possible coordination and/or fine motor issues
  • Poor visual-motor abilities
  • Difficulty with rhythm
  • Difficulty with phonics, spelling, and writing 

For more information about auditory processing disorder and to see how one of our therapists can help your child, contact us today