About APD

Unhappy Schoolboy Studying In Classroom

What Is Auditory Processing?

Auditory Processing “cleans up” the incoming auditory message so that it is clear and consistent and ready for Receptive Language to apply meaning.

In simple terms, “Auditory Processing is what the brain does with what the ear hears.”
~Jack Katz, Ph.D. – Author of Therapy for Auditory Processing Disorders; Simple Effective Procedures~

The Primary Auditory Skills necessary for effective Auditory Processing include:

  • Listening to speech in noise and/or ignoring background noise
  • Understanding distorted, accented, rapid speech or speech with missing parts
  • Understanding and listening effectively with both ears (Separating and Integrating information)
  • Understanding tonal and timing differences in speech

So, what happens when you are unable to effectively process auditory stimuli?  The breakdown of these primary auditory processing skills will interfere with a listener’s ability to access appropriate receptive language skills and apply meaning effectively to the incoming auditory message

The impact can vary and the end result can be a variety of symptoms including but not limited to:

  • Misinterpretation of messages
  • Need for repetition
  • Awkward or inappropriate responses
  • Difficulty understanding tonal inferences in speech
  • Difficulty staying on task or staying focused
  • Frustration with communication
  • Excessive use of “huh” or “what”
  • Educational weaknesses

Auditory Processing is a foundational skill that can adversely affect higher order skills such as reading, language processing, attention and executive function.   Attempts to remediate higher order skills when there are auditory processing deficits can lead to slow progress or the inability to master those skills that are trying to be trained.

How Is Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Diagnosed?

It is important for Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) to be assessed by an Audiologist that specializes in APD, like Dr. Reeves at Little Listeners. Testing should be completed in a noise controlled environment (preferably within a sound-resistant booth) with calibrated equipment and recorded test materials.  Some live voice testing is appropriate for screenings, but an ideal test battery should involve recorded test materials with age appropriate normative data.


During this testing, the individual will be tested for specific deficits.  The six basic deficit categories of APD are listed below in order of most common occurrence and help us understand how an individual communicates.  These categories are determined by specific patterns of auditory processing and are distinguished by the following characteristics:

  • 1 Decoding Deficit – A decoding deficit is the most common profile seen in individuals with an auditory processing disorder.
  • 2 Integration Deficit - An Integration Deficit creates difficulties with tasks involving both visual and auditory input
  • 3 Prosodic Deficit - It suggests an inability to properly utilize prosodic (tonal and timing) features, impacting one’s ability to detect differences in pitch, intonation and stress that assist in applying meaning to speech.
  • 4 Tolerance Fading Memory Deficit - A Tolerance Fading Memory Deficit is a secondary deficit and implies an inability to retain auditory information, which in turn affects the amount of information a person can handle at one time.
  • 5 Output/Organization Deficit - An Output/Organization Deficit is a secondary deficit and is an inability to plan, sequence or organize one’s response to auditory stimulus or instructions.
  • 6 Auditory Associative Deficit - An Auditory Associative Deficit implies an inability to apply the rules of language to incoming auditory input.

It is important to note that the Deficit category diagnosed has no bearing on the type of auditory training administered in our clinic.  However, the deficit category is important for understanding the most appropriate classroom/work accommodations and communication strategies specific to the individual’s listening strengths and weaknesses.  These differences are defined in each child’s customized evaluation report.

One must also keep in mind that there are many co-existent and/or misdiagnosed disorders that can be confused with APD including but not limited to: ADD/ADHD, Dyslexia, Language Disorder, Learning Disability, Reading Disability, and Sensory Processing Disorder.