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Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is the most neglected and under diagnosed area of hearing services in NZ according to Dr Bill Keith, audiologist of specialist APD clinic SoundSkills. Under diagnosis is compounded by false reassurance to conscientious parents who seek a hearing test for their child with hearing difficulties only to be told her hearing is fine.

Basic hearing assessment tests the peripheral auditory system but not the central pathways and hearing centres of the brain that may be involved in APD. Specialised audiological tests are required. There are APD screening tools and tests that can be used on children from about age four. Its a myth that APD tests can only be carried out from age seven.

Unrecognised APD is sometimes misdiagnosed as dyslexia. Sometimes the two conditions go together. In fact 39 per cent of children with dyslexia have an observed auditory deficit (Ramus, 2003).

Thanks to the neuroplasticity of the brain, APD is more treatable than sensory hearing losses. SoundSkills uses a combination of therapy and assistive listening devices for optimal results. Auditory skills training helps people to better discriminate sounds and to hear better in the presence of competing sounds. Phonological awareness training and language therapy address the deficits commonly seen from years of not having heard properly. And use of personal FM systems in class enable children to finally hear the teacher.

Says Bill Keith, “one of the most exciting recent research findings is that, over time, use of a personal FM system by a child with APD can actually improve the childs ability to hear. In many cases theres a double benefit, an immediate assistive effect and a longer term therapeutic effect”.

Article from Eduvac – The Education Weekly
By Shona Cox
Eduvac News – The Education Weekly