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What is Auditory Processing Disorder?

Auditory Processing is basically the role the brain plays in the hearing process which ultimately enables us to develop learning skills. Essentially, it is our brain and not our ears that hear. The ears play the part of sending raw information on for further analysis where, all being well, it is eventually deciphered by the hearing centres in our brain.

How well the raw information is interpreted by the brain depends on our level of Auditory Processing skills which are primarily developed during the critical periods of language learning, between the ages of 6 months to 3 years.

This is the period when the brain is most prepared to map information from sounds or spoken words onto its language centres. As we will see people who have difficulties can recover these skills by following appropriate intervention programmes. Research on Brain Plasticity clearly demonstrates effective rewiring of the brain to remediate auditory processing difficulties 

Auditory Processing is Not a Problem with Hearing

According to the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) “the ability to listen to sounds also involves memory, learning, vision and attention, as well as hearing. If any of these functions are impaired then hearing and listening may be affected.”  They point out however that they are not in a position to assist in remediation Click here

Fast ForWord and Auditory Processing

Research has shown that Fast ForWord® can improve auditory processing in children with auditory processing disorder (APD). Children with APD are thought to hear normally, but their brains prevent them from properly interpreting sounds, especially speech. APD impacts an estimated 5% of school-aged children, who often appear inattentive and struggle in school because they have trouble understanding what is being said in class.

As Fast ForWord® helps the brain rewire itself to improve cognitive function, it also helps children get better at auditory processing at the same time.

Auditory Processing Disorder and Learning 

New Research

The new research is pointing to the fact that auditory processing disorders are a significant contributor to some of the learning problems that we see in a lot of children in school. Teri Bellis and another group of researchers just published an article in the Journal of the American Speech and Hearing Association looking at the relationship between auditory processing disorders and reading disorders.

They found that, if you look at children who are having reading problems and you test their auditory processing, you can see several different dimensions of auditory processing that seem to be problematic in those children.

So we have 2 lines of research that have been going on probably for 10 or 15 years on the link between learning problems and auditory processing disorders.


Auditory processing disorders are treatable. There are several interventions that you can use. A classic intervention for auditory processing disorder is called auditory training, where you actually sit with the children and ask them to do speech discrimination tasks. But we also have commercial products out there like the Fast ForWord programs that are designed specifically to train auditory processing disorders.

What this means is that we can tackle a lot of learning difficulties by identifying auditory processing disorders in children as young as we can, as young as six or seven years of age, and treating them right away, so that a child never starts school struggling with the learning process.

This information pack is designed to help you understand:

What APD Is – How it is different from hearing and what the common symptom are?

How to interpret an APD report – Assessment reports can be confusing. Our guide will help you understand your child’s test results.

How to best help a student with APD – A combination of three strategies is needed.

Why we have used Fast ForWord online auditory processing training for over a decade – This program is proven to improve auditory processing, following instructions, memory, attention, listening, speech, reading, reading comprehension, writing. Studies show that the changes ensure few, if any, programs are   including S.P & P &    social communication and negotiation skills proven to produce such fast and lasting changes for struggling students.

Four Features of Poor Auditory Processing

It is important to emphasize that APD is an auditory deficit that is not the result of other higher-order cognitive, language, or related disorders.


1.  Poor Listening Skills
Are you constantly repeating instructions for your child? Do you feel that your child “tunes out” or is in a “world of their own”? Is your child falling behind his or her peers academically?

2.  Learning Difficulties
Children get distracted by background noise, cannot listen accurately and speedily to comprehend and follow speech. Phonemic awareness, phonics etc.

3.  Mistaken Diagnosis
Auditory Processing Disorder can often be confused with behaviour problems, adjustment difficulties, and immaturity. Mislabelling includes ADD/ADHD/Autism and other incorrect labels.

4.  Lack of Intervention
Compensatory strategies may or not be offered. Underlying skills development on listening accuracy and speed, attention and working memory have shown that Auditory Processing can be improved.

The report is divided into the following sections:


  • Key information: There are many aspects to APD. We have outlined the most common questions and their answers in this section.
  • Questionnaire: This questionnaire may be completed by the child’s teacher/s and/or parent/s as a guide in determining whether further assessment is warranted.
  • “Unlocking the Learner Within:” will give you an insight into how APD can affect the child in the classroom
  • “Games Retrain Brain” is an article by Brad Hutchinson an Audiologist/Speech Pathologist on the benefits that can be got from Fast ForWord for the treatment of APD
  • The Times Article My Son has Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)
  • “Slipping through the Educational Cracks” is another article by Brad Hutchinson on the school aspects of APD.
  • Fast ForWord: Here we summarise the research on the programmes.

    APD is indeed quite common as a cause of learning disability. We hope that this summary report will give you an insight into the condition and that you have the information that you need to take the next step to assist your child to overcome their difficulty.

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