In patients with central auditory processing disorders, there is a problem with the brain regions that process sound. The ears and nerve pathways are healthy, and patients have a normal response to isolated tones on a standard hearing test. In this sense, they do not suffer from hearing loss. However, the brain cannot process the sounds normally. This means that the patient cannot hear certain sounds, even though the ears can detect them.
Patients with this disorder have difficulties in understanding speech. The presence of background noise creates particular challenges for them. This can create increased stress while in group social settings, and may also affect work or school performance. Many patients are diagnosed as children, but it’s also possible for adults to acquire an auditory processing disorder, usually as the result of an accident or stroke. It’s also possible to have both hearing loss and a central auditory processing disorder; this is more common in older adults.
It’s common for central auditory processing disorder to be misdiagnosed as hearing loss, a language disorder, a learning disorder, or another similar problem. An audiologist is the ideal professional to test for auditory processing disorder. Our audiologist has been the one to give a correct diagnosis to a family that had been struggling for answers. This allows them to finally receive the help that they need.
Only an audiologist can diagnose an auditory processing disorder. The testing is conducted with a sound booth and a two-channel audiometer. This allows different words and sentences to be presented simultaneously to the two ears. The audiologist will evaluate the patient’s ability to complete a variety of auditory tasks.
Most people who are tested are between the ages of 6 and 14 years of age. They’re usually students who are struggling to learn in school, but who don’t yet have a specific diagnosis. In many cases, the student seems to hear relatively well at home. However, once in a classroom with its distractions and background noises, the student may exhibit distractibility, difficulties following instructions, and problems with comprehension.
Treatment of central auditory processing disorder usually involves a team of professionals. The aim of the therapies is to retrain the brain, to improve its ability to detect and process sounds. In many cases, patients benefit from hearing aids. Our audiologist can help you to determine which hearing aids and settings would be best in your case.
In addition, treatment by a speech therapist may help with retraining the brain to recognize the difference between similar sounds. An educational therapist can be helpful for creating a supportive learning environment for the patient. Listening therapy programs may help to retrain the auditory pathways. Other professionals may also be involved in treatment, depending on the patient’s needs.
If you’d like to learn more about central auditory processing disorder, Dr. Teri James Bellis has an excellent book about this topic, entitled “When the Brain Can’t Hear”.
Call today with any questions or to schedule your central auditory processing evaluation. 630-930-1025