An Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) refers to difficulty processing what is heard. APD is characterised by poor perception of speech and non-speech sounds. APD has its origin in impaired neural function and impacts on life through a reduced ability to listen [British Society of Audiology 2018].
There are three types of APD:
− Developmental APD: Cases presenting in childhood with normal hearing and no other known aetiology or potential risk factors. Some cases may retain their APD into adulthood
− Acquired APD: Cases associated with a known postnatal event (e.g. neurological trauma or infection)
− Secondary APD: Cases where APD occurs in the presence, or as a result, of peripheral hearing impairment. This includes transient hearing impairment after its resolution (e.g. glue ear) or increased difficulty processing sound due to ageing
In most cases hearing is normal but sometimes APD can occur in the presence of a hearing impairment. It is more challenging to assess APD in the presence of a hearing impairment. Your audiologist will be able to provide more information about this.
A person with APD may have difficulty in one or more of the following areas:
- Difficulty localising and ‘tracking’ sounds
- Hearing when the signal is not clear or ‘degraded’ (e.g. accents, telephone)
- Hearing in noisy and reverberant environments
- ‘Mishears’ auditory information (e.g. lethal/legal)
- Takes longer to respond to and process auditory information
- Poor listening skills and auditory attention
- Poor auditory memory
- Music perception difficulties
Additionally, in children there may also be reports of:
- Delayed auditory milestones
- Difficulty with learning songs and nursery rhymes
- Difficulty with multiple auditory commands
- Possible speech and language delay/disorder
- Difficulties with phonological and phonemic awareness, reading, spelling, and/or academic progress
Find out more about our Referral Criteria for the APD Service. Please note: USAIS only accept APD referrals from Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Dorset, Wiltshire and West Sussex.
For more information about APD click on the following links:
- APD Quick Guide – covers what APD is, assessment and intervention. Click here.
- APD MESHGuide, an online evidence-based resource. Click here.
- British Society of Audiology guidance. Click here.
Research and Training
We are actively involved in research and offer training days for professionals with an interest in APD.
The interdisciplinary APD Service at the University of Southampton
An interdisciplinary approach is followed, given the overlap between Developmental APD and other conditions such as specific language impairment and dyslexia, as well as Acquired/Secondary APD and higher order processes such as language and cognition. This allows for integrated assessment and management, where primary versus secondary concerns can be prioritised to best meet the person’s needs.
Our immediate team comprises of audiologists, speech and language therapists and teachers of the deaf/educational audiologists. Furthermore the wider team can offer guidance on sensory integration, cognition, written language and medical issues, specifically relating to the ear, nose and throat.
We offer a two level system, which allows for flexibility and is cost-effective. Firstly, level 1 entails a screening assessment and interdisciplinary guidelines for the individual, their parents/family and school/workplace. Secondly, level 2 offers a more in-depth assessment and management, if required. For older children and adults it is possible to integrate Level 1 and Level 2 Audiology tests into one session on the same day.
Please feel free to contact us for further information AIS.Plus@southampton.ac.uk
- Service Lead: Professor Nicci Campbell
- Senior Administrator: Mrs Fiona Jones