Our office offers evaluation of central auditory processing disorders in adults and children. Auditory processing refers to “what we do with what we hear”. The activity of hearing does not take place exclusively in the ears. It is important to remember that the ears simply transmit sound to the brain where it is more fully interpreted and assigned meaning. Central Auditory Processing Disorder refers to a problem with the central nervous system where there is an inability to efficiently and precisely process auditory information.Individuals with auditory processing problems may have difficulty tuning out background noise in order to hear and understand speech. They may have problems comprehending rapid speech, distorted or unfamiliar speech or following conversation in less than ideal environments such as in a room with poor acoustics or with other people talking at the same time. An auditory processing disorder reflects problems processing auditory information at the brainstem and/or cortical levels, not at the level of the outer ear, middle ear,inner ear,or even the auditory nerve.
Audiologists can administer a complete test battery designed to determine if an auditory processing disorder is present, and if so, what type of specific difficulty is involved. The central auditory test battery would include measures of the ability to identify sentences and words in the presence background noise, the ability to comprehend rapid speech, auditory memory, and a variety of other listening tasks. If a problem is identified, listening strategies can be implemented. Assistive listening devices can be useful. A medical referral may be appropriate in some cases. There are therapy programs, particularly for children, that can be very helpful. In those situations, the audiologist would very likely then get a speech/language pathologist and possibly a neuropsychologist involved as part of the team.