TREATMENTS FOR APD

There are no cures for APD, but there are many treatments that aim to improve the effectiveness of everyday communication. As it is a neurological problem, it cannot be treated with medication.

A successful treatment plan for APD incorporates many different approaches.

Environmental modifications: These modifications fall into two types, bottom-up and top-down, and aim to create a redundant listening and learning environment.

  • Bottom-up environmental modifications, which are acoustic-based, include: hearing assistive technology, architectural interventions to reduce reverberation, and preferential seating away from adverse noise.

  • Top-down environmental modifications, which change how information is imparted, include: checking for comprehension, complementing verbal speech with visual cues, slowing the speaking rate, repeating key information, providing written instructions, and providing a notetaker.

Speech-language pathology (speech therapy): Because children with APD struggle with sound discrimination—differentiating between similar sounds—speech-language pathologists (SLPs) can help them perceive these sounds better and more clearly. SLPs can also help children improve perception of individual sounds (phonemes) in words, which can help with reading, employ active listening skills, and use appropriate language in social situations.

Compensation strategies: Individuals with APD can be taught skills to compensate for weak listening ability. Examples include teaching the patient to be more proactive when in a learning environment, such as requesting clarification, asking a person to repeat directions, or using a recording device.

Auditory training: This intervention directly attempts to improve the function of the affected auditory process(es) by addressing auditory skills. Training can be formal or informal:

  • Formal auditory training uses recorded stimuli (e.g., tones, noise, speech, digits) presented via an audio device. The stimuli may be routed through an audiometer for control. Performance is scored periodically and training difficulty is modified to bring performance closer to the criterion.

  • Informal auditory training does not use stimulus control with an audiometer; instead they are presented face-to-face rather than played from a recording on a device.


Sources: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; Child Mind Institute; Seminars in Hearing; Strickland Ear Clinic; Understood.org