Many individuals think deafness is the only way to have a hearing impairment, but the reality is that some individuals can have perfectly functioning ears, yet still be unable to understand noises. In patients with auditory processing disorder, the brain is unable to properly translate meaning to the noises a person hears. Auditory processing disorders often go unnoticed because they are either too mild to greatly impair the patient or so severe they get mistaken for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, and other related disorders. However, it is essential to diagnose an auditory processing disorder as early as possible so a patient can get the therapy needed to help them communicate with others. Be sure to pay attention to these warning signs of an auditory processing disorder.
Difficulty Taking Notes
Patients with auditory processing disorders frequently have more difficulty paying attention to sound when they are involved in other things. In a schoolroom setting, this difficulty in remembering things heard is particularly noticeable when it comes to note-taking. Taking notes requires an individual to understand a spoken sentence and then write the sentence while listening to and attempting to comprehend another phrase. This sequence is almost impossible for many individuals with an auditory processing disorder. A student may hear something the teacher says and forget it entirely before they can write it down, or they may become so absorbed in writing down a previous lecture point they can no longer process the things currently being said. Difficulty taking notes can be particularly problematic because many individuals with an auditory processing disorder actually struggle to learn information unless it is written down. If they cannot read notes on a lecture class, they might find it almost impossible to recall what was discussed in the class.
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Saying 'What' Or 'Huh' Frequently
Because it is tricky for individuals with an auditory processing disorder to properly follow a conversation, they often end up saying 'what' or 'huh' frequently while talking to another person. This sort of behavior often ends up being a reason a parent asks to have an expert test their child's hearing. However, the issue is not that the person with an auditory processing disorder cannot hear someone speak. Instead, the problem is they simply cannot understand them. Even when a person with an auditory processing disorder is closely following a conversation, there may be words they cannot hear. Another issue that can lead to this symptom is the fact patients with an auditory processing disorder struggle to pay attention to a conversation. When they are distracted by background noises, they can end up having difficulty hearing what is said by the person right in front of them.
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Difficulty Following Extensive Directions And Long Conversations
If an individual has an auditory processing disorder, they may find lengthy conversations or long lists of verbal directions go right over their head. It is common to see a patient with an auditory processing disorder standing there looking completely baffled after being given multi-step directions. This difficulty following extensive directions and long conversations is due to the fact a patient with an auditory processing disorder may need a little time to actually understand something after they hear it. If the person they are talking to moves on to saying something else while the individual is still trying to parse meaning from the original statement, they may miss important things. To cope with this issue, individuals who have an auditory processing disorder may frequently ask for a written to-do list or print out directions to a new location instead of trying to listen to someone give them this information.
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Difficulty With Vocabulary And Comprehension
Some individuals with auditory processing disorders will experience difficulty with vocabulary and comprehension. At its most basic level, an auditory processing disorder can make it hard for someone to remember things they hear. Another issue with comprehension when listening is some individuals with severe processing issues may lack auditory cohesion skills, which is the ability to combine understanding of sound, language, and logic to make inferences from conversations, figure out riddles, or understand verbal references. Struggles with discriminating between sounds make vocabulary and comprehension issues worse. A person might easily confuse similar sounding words, such as pat and bat. In a conversation, they might think a person said pat instead of bat, or they may recognize the word pat but think the person is talking about a bat. In general, patients with an auditory processing disorder tend to do better at written vocabulary and reading comprehension, but the challenges associated with this disorder can lead to all sorts of confusion about language.
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Difficulty Staying Focused
A difficulty staying focused is the symptom that often causes individuals with an auditory processing disorder to get misdiagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or a similar condition. Individuals often assume the patient is simply not listening or paying attention because they seem to have no clue what was being said just moments before. However, the reality is an individual with auditory processing difficulties may not be able to focus on one specific thing because of an issue with figure-to-ground discrimination. This is essentially an inability to distinguish between background noise and other sounds. For example, a child might not be able to hear a teacher in a class over the sound of a classmate flipping pages in a book. Since background noises can be so amplified and distracting, it can be hard for a person with an auditory processing disorder to do anything that requires focus. Just quietly working in a typical office environment might be as distracting as trying to calculate a budget in the middle of a nightclub with blaring music.