Assesses how the brain processes auditory information

An Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is a deficit in the brain’s ability to understand and use sound information correctly; hearing levels are usually within the normal range. Our audiologists specialise in APD assessments and will discuss the results and therapy options with you.

An APD assessment consists of a series of tests, each one designed to assess a specific auditory skill. The pattern of the results of each test allows a profile of strengths and weaknesses to emerge. This is important because the degree and type of auditory processing deficit and individual experiences will determine the most appropriate therapy specific to his or her needs; there is no “one-size-fits-all” treatment for APD.

Auditory Processing is a term used to describe how the brain recognises and interprets sound. APD assessment can be performed on adults and on children over 7 years of age who have normal hearing, but cannot process sound information accurately. It is more common to assess children, many (but not all) of these children experience significant learning difficulties because they are unable to make sense of what they are hearing.

A parent or teacher may suspect APD if a child:

  • has difficulty following instructions
  • has difficulty understanding speech in the presence of background noise
  • has a short attention span
  • has a lower reading or spelling ability
  • has difficulty in understanding information presented verbally
  • has difficulty learning in background noise or in group environments
  • has poorer verbal abilities
  • has low self-esteem
  • is easily distracted
  • behaves as if there is a hearing loss present often asking for repetition or clarification

APD can often be confused with other conditions such as language disorders or higher-order cognitive disorders (eg. Autism, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) as the symptoms and behaviours the child exhibit can be similar. It is important to note that APD is specific to the auditory deficit alone and not the results of any cognitive, language or related disorder. In some cases, however, APD can coexist with these disorders. A careful and accurate assessment is therefore required for proper diagnosis. Our senior audiologists are experienced in performing the audiological assessments to accurately diagnose APD.

The APD is a 3-hour appointment and the price is $550 and includes a comprehensive report.

We have two APD specialists at MAC who work at our Fitzroy hearing centre and hence the assessments are only available at this location.

What to expect at an APD assessment

We perform a thorough diagnostic Auditory Processing Disorder assessment for children over 7 years of age and adults who have auditory processing difficulties. Younger children cannot be assessed because the normal variability in brain function across younger children is so marked that accurate test interpretation is not possible.

What to expect in an Auditory Processing Assessment in Children

During the assessment process, the nature and degree of the disorder are determined. This allows us to recommend a management and treatment plan to address the specific needs of each individual.

We allow 3 hours for an auditory processing assessment and reports. The assessment involves the following:

Case History
Our audiologist will ask you questions regarding your child’s learning and hearing skills.
Please bring any reports from a Speech Pathologist, educational psychologist, behavioural optometrist or school reports along to the appointment.

Hearing Test
A hearing assessment is performed to determine the softest sounds that can be heard by your child for each frequency (pitch) important for speech understanding. This information is plotted on a graph called an audiogram. Tests to determine middle ear movement and the ear’s physiological response to sound (acoustic reflex testing) will also be performed when possible.

Auditory Memory Test
This test assesses your child’s ability to recall numbers and sentence material in sequence.

Auditory Processing Tests which include:

  • Dichotic Digits Test: assesses the child's ability to listen to information presented simultaneously to both ears
  • Frequency Pitch Pattern Test: assesses the child's ability to detect subtle differences in sound
  • Random Gap Detection Test: assesses the child's ability to detect two tones presented at different time intervals
  • LiSN-S Test: assesses the child's ability to hear in a noisy environment

At the conclusion of the assessment, the audiologist will explain the test results to you, discuss recommendations and answer any questions. A written report will also be supplied (at a later date) and will include recommendations for further investigations and or management/intervention as appropriate.

APD Management and Intervention