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Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory Processsing Disorder (APD) is a neurological defect that affects how the brain processes spoken language. This makes it difficult for the child to process verbal instructions or even to filter out background noise in the classroom.

People who have normal hearing actually hear far more than they perceive. Where hearing is a function of the ear, auditory processing – listening – is a function of the brain. Auditory processing describes the way the brain assigns significance and meaning to the sounds in the environment. Effective auditory processing involves a relatively high speed of information transfer. It also requires a good attention span, a well-functioning memory, and sensitivity to the many subtleties of sound. When parts of this complex system break down or don’t operate efficiently, listening is compromised. All the ensuing problems are collectively known as Auditory Processing Disorders (APD).

Many children with APD have a family history of auditory difficulties or partial deafness. In addition, there are some developmental issues that have been shown to have a relationship to APD. These include a complicated birth, childhood ear infections or colds, glue ear, allergies, or a slow speech development. Some children have early experiences with sound that involve either a lack of auditory stimulation or a noisy environment. These children may have learned to be discouraged by listening, while others block out aggressive sound if they are hypersensitive to certain frequencies. Not all children who fall into the categories mentioned develop APD, but many children with the disorder have experienced at least one of these issues.

Auditory processing is the system that transfers and decodes what we hear into what we understand. It is, in effect, the wiring between hearing and understanding. The ear and the brain communicate with each other, not unlike two people having a conversation on a mobile phone. If there is any kind of interference on the line, the reception of the given message will be compromised. The line may cut in and out, there may be a small time delay, or there may be a lot of background noise. Where one type of interference may cause distraction, another may cause frustration, misunderstanding and / or confusion.

This is precisely what happens with auditory processing. Depending on the type of processing dysfunction, different problems will emerge. Ideally, auditory processing should enable people to decode auditory signals as they are delivered, integrate auditory information with other environmental cues, organise this in a meaningful way, screen incoming auditory information to sort the relevant from the irrelevant, and lastly to associate sounds with written language.

It is impossible to isolate the components of this system or to consider that any sensory system only affects its specific domain. How we make use of auditory information is a complex and interdependent network of hearing, listening, and the brain’s processing of information to produce appropriate responses. Without this ability, relationships, learning and development are all challenged.

Auditory processing disorder is often present from early childhood, leading to a number of difficulties as the child becomes older and messages become complex and are given more quickly. This may manifest as poor auditory comprehension, delayed language development, poor expressive and receptive language or high distractibility, though many other symptoms are also noticed. Auditory processing problems are a feature of many other disorders, including autism, dyslexia, learning disabilities, dyspraxia, Asperger’s syndrome, developmental and speech delay, and attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADD or ADHD).

Auditory Processing Disorder often leads to the deterioration of behaviour as a result of poor expressive and receptive communication. As children experience the discouragement of being misunderstood and the frustration of misunderstanding others, they become more disconnected from their environment and the people around them.


These factors need to be considered when treating Auditory Processing Disorder:

  • Placement - in school, in the classroom, into a program.
    Most children with APD problems can be educate appropriately in a regular educational setting. Teachers should be patient - also consider teachers with accents and different language backgrounds. FM systems to bring the teachers voice via a microphone to the listener via loudspeakers or amplifers.
  • Accommodations
    Maximize positive listening environments; use visual and gestural cues.
    Preferential seating: may not always be the front of the room.
    Pre-teaching - key words, vocabulary, underlying concepts.


My husband and I are grateful to Cobblestone for everything they have done for our daughter Scarlett. We have had the pleasure of working with Lynn and it has been a life changing experience for our whole family. Scarlett has gained so much confidence in her abilities and we feel fortunate to have had this opportunity to work with them on her speech goals. We know that with their tools she will have a different level of learning than that of her peers. In addition, Jodie has been a delight to work with from getting us started to answering any questions we have in a timely manner. They treat you like part of the family and they truly care about your child.
Alana Kelly – 8 year-old daughter

We moved here last year and found Cobblestone to continue my then 4 year olds Apraxia therapy with Miss Samantha. Last week he had his last session. It’s been a wonderful year working with Samantha and Lynn and we are going to miss them so much. Samantha was a great therapist and worked so well with my son. Lynn is such a wonderful, kind, and caring woman and I truely enjoyed our afternoon chats. She runs her business so professionally, yet when you walk in the door, you feel like family. We had some issues with our insurance company and she worked so hard to get things fixed so that we didn’t have to deal with them ourselves.
Stacy Cote – 4 year-old son

We love Cobblestone! We have worked with several therapists over the past 3 years at Cobblestone. Each one has been easy to work with and adaptable to my sons needs. Due to Covid restrictions, we are seeing Kimberly remotely every week. I wasn't sure if remote therapy would be a great fit for my son, but she has made the transition extremely easy and engaging. He continues to work on and gain skills with every session. Kimberly is able to hold his attention for most of the session. Way to adapt Cobblestone! Thank you.
Jenn Grey –5 year-old son



What To Expect: Parents

First visit: Your first visit is an opportunity for the therapist, child and yourself to meet prior to an evaluation or intervention. You are welcome to bring siblings and other family members to this visit. The therapist will take this opportunity to informally observe your child's communication and play skills ... Learn more »

What To Expect: Kids

First visit: You will be coming to visit me soon at my office. When you arrive I will greet you and we will have some time to play and get to know each other. I will show you where the games and toys are and you will be able to pick out a couple that we can play with together ... Learn more »