Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)

March 25, 2012 by David Mayer
Le trouble de traitement Auditif (TTA)Someone with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) has difficulty analyzing and understanding what has just been said, even though he or she may not have any hearing problems. APD, also called Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD), was described for the first time in 1992 by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA). It was defined as follows: persistent difficulties in the processing of auditory information affecting auditory performance in noisy environments, sound localization and lateralization, auditory discrimination, pattern recognition or temporal ordering, despite normal hearing acuity.

Auditory Processing Disorders are believed to affect between 2% and 7% of the population, especially boys (two to three times as many boys are affected than girls). Individuals with an APD may:

  • have trouble understanding rapid speech;
  • have difficulty learning or retaining new concepts presented verbally;
  • confuse similar sounds;
  • be easily distracted by background noise;
  • often daydream or appear to be absent-minded;
  • have difficulty following a set of verbal instructions;
  • have trouble focusing and remaining focused on a verbal message;
  • have trouble locating an audio source;‡ appear to have greater success working on an individual basis.

An auditory processing dysfunction is generally acknowledged as the root cause of difficulty recognizing speech in a noisy environment, but the concept of APD is not unanimously accepted. Some scientists attribute this problem to a cognitive-linguistic impairment instead.


Children can be tested for an APD from the age of 6 onward. Before attempting to assess auditory processing, a hearing test (audiogram) must be conducted. Testing for an APD is carried out in a soundproof booth and involves examining a wide range of hearing abilities by means of various tests. In conducting their assessment, audiologists have to consider the factors that may affect the results (the child’s cognitive or linguistic impairments, motivation, fatigue, attention deficit, stress or excitation, etc.). Frequent breaks are required to ensure the child doesn’t lose his or her concentration.


Audiology therapies (auditory training), listening strategies, environmental adaptations (noise reduction) and the use of an FM (frequency modulation) system are some of the strategies that can be used to help alleviate difficulties encountered by individuals with an APD.

As soon as a child starts to show signs of major learning problems in school, appointments should be made with a psychologist to test his or her attention and cognitive abilities, a speech therapist to evaluate his or her linguistic abilities, and an audiologist to look at his or her hearing acuity and auditory processing abilities.

Don’t hesitate to contact an audiologist to learn more about APDs. He or she will be delighted to answer your questions.


– INSTITUT RAYMOND-DEWAR. “Le trouble de traitement auditif TTA”,, viewed on June 30, 2011.

– LAGACÉ, Josée (2009). “Problèmes de perception de la parole dans le bruit chez les enfants qui présentent un trouble de traitement auditif”, PhD thesis, Montréal, Université de Montréal.

– MEDWETSKY, Larry, Laura RIDDLE and Jack KATZ (2009). “Management of Central Auditory Processing Disorders”, Chapter 28 in Handbook of Clinical Audiology,
6th edition, Jack Katz ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, pp. 627–641.

– NEW BRUNSWICK DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION (2000). “Trouble d’audition centrale, trousse d’intervention en salle de classe”.

– ORDRE DES ORTHOPHONISTES ET DES AUDIOLOGISTES DU QUÉBEC (OOAQ) (2007). “Révision des pratiques courantes en audiologie entourant le trouble de traitement auditif (TTA) chez l’enfant”, Rapport du comité ad hoc.

– TILLERY, Kim L. (2009). “Central Auditory Processing Evaluation: A Test Battery Approach”, Chapter 27 in Handbook of Clinical Audiology, 6th edition, Jack Katz ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, pp. 642–663.