March 30, 2004 Features

Redefining Auditory Processing Disorder

Since the term "auditory processing disorders" (APD) first emerged in the 1960s, there has been controversy over the definition, diagnosis, and treatment for this complex group of disorders, and their relationship with other language and learning difficulties. Some audiologists believe, for example, that diagnosis should be done only by audiologists. Some speech-language pathologists believe they, too, have a role in diagnosing APD.

In addition, assessment for APD and speech and language disorders can have paradoxical results. A child may perform poorly on an APD assessment battery yet have no evidence of speech or language problems. Conversely, a child may have significant speech or language difficulties yet display no difficulty on APD assessments. How can this contradiction be reconciled?

Questions remain about the differences between auditory processing disorders and receptive language disorders. While treatment should flow from the assessment, this is not necessarily true of APD. Assessment for APD doesn't always lead to specific remediation. Often, treatment for APD and receptive language and comprehension may be the same. Specific remediation doesn't exist for the perceptual processing skills (such as dichotic listening) that are assessed.

New research at St. Johns University in Jamaica, NY, highlights the link between APD and a variety of other related disorders: attention deficit hyperactive disorder, otitis media with effusion, specific language impairment, and reading disability.

The articles that follow reflect the ongoing debate in the professions. Teri Bellis (Audiologist Perspective) and Gail Richard (SLP Perspective) unravel the mysteries of diagnosing and treating APD, and Priscilla Douglas (APD in Academia) shares the impact of APD on learning through her experiences with a medical school student.

-Intro by Susan Boswell

Redefining Auditory Processing Disorder: An Audiologist's Perspective

Redefining Auditory Processing Disorder: A Speech-Language Pathologist's Perspective

APD in Academia


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