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When You Hear, But Don’t Understand

  April 02, 2016
By Joanna Capobianco, AuD, CCC-A and Courtney Parmley AuD, CCC-A, Central Illinois Hearing & Balance Center

Auditory processing disorder (APD) is a condition that makes it difficult to recognize subtle differences between sounds in words. This condition is more common in children, especially boys, but is also present in adults as well.  Individuals with an auditory processing disorder typically have normal hearing but struggle to process and make sense of sounds, especially in the presence of background noise. For most people, the brain processes sound seamlessly and almost instantly so they can quickly interpret what they hear. But with APD, some kind of malfunction delays or “scrambles” that process. The sound is heard by the ears just fine, but the brain isn’t able to understand the sound.

An auditory processing disorder oftentimes can mimic symptoms of a hearing loss. The affected person will express difficulties hearing in background noise, may have problems following multi-step directions, and have a difficult time following conversations. These difficulties will often lead them to seek out a hearing evaluation. Sometimes, there are hearing difficulties or medical issues that are remediated and addressed, such as an ear infection, but what do you do when you are experiencing these difficulties and are found to have a normal hearing evaluation? Oftentimes, people are confused and are left thinking “what is the next step?” That next step may very well be an auditory processing evaluation.

Symptoms of an auditory processing disorder include:
  • trouble with reading and spelling
  • poor musical ability
  • difficulty learning songs or nursery rhymes  
  • trouble retaining details of what was read or heard in a story
Although the exact causes of APD are still unknown, there is much that can be done to help children and adults with hearing and understanding. From simple modification to your environment, to therapy with a trained professional, to at home therapy using a computer based program, there are many different options and recommendations to help improve understanding.

Central Illinois Hearing and Balance Center offers comprehensive auditory processing evaluations as well as information on various types of hearing aids and hearing problems.  Call audiologists Dr. Capobianco or Dr. Parmley at 309-661-0232. They are located at 808 S. Eldorado Rd., Suite 2W. Dr. Capobianco has extensive training in auditory processing evaluation and treatment.
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April 02, 2016

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