We don’t hear with our ears alone. Hearing also involves the brain.
Auditory processing disorder (APD), sometimes referred to as central auditory processing disorder (CAPD), is a general term for hearing disorders in which the ears process sound normally but the hearing centres and circuits of the brain don’t always process incoming information sufficiently quickly or accurately.
Children with untreated APD grow up to be adults with APD. APD can also arise in adulthood as a consequence of disease, injury or ageing. APD is a common consequence of brain injury and stroke. Adults with APD can hear but they sometimes have trouble understanding what they hear. APD can especially affect understanding, in challenging listening situations such as in the presence of other distracting sound or when listening to complex information. Often adults who have had APD since childhood have learnt to compensate for or mask their listening difficulties. Sometimes adults who receive an APD diagnosis attribute past difficulties at school relating to academic progress, social and behavioural difficulties, to auditory processing difficulties.
APD in adults can impact quality of life significantly. Communication difficulties can negatively affect socialisation, relationships and career.
If the APD is a consequence of an injury, it may affect ability to return to work. The additional effort required to listen and understand everyday conversations can result in listening-related fatigue. APD often makes understanding difficult when listening in noise and groups, leading to reduced communication and social confidence.