Can children outgrow an Auditory Processing Disorder?
Listening skills develop as the auditory system matures. We expect the auditory system to mature at around 12 years of age. Therefore, as in all areas of development some children are slower than others to meet developmental milestones. A child is diagnosed with an Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) if their auditory processing skills are significantly behind those of their age peers on at least two of the tests administered. For some children their auditory processing skills will improve with age and for others they will never improve to what is considered a normal range. For this reason if your child has been found to have an APD, review of their auditory processing skills is generally recommended in 12 – 18 months.
Are there more children diagnosed with an Auditory Processing Disorder than there used to be?
Certainly there has been an increase in the number of children diagnosed with an Auditory Processing Disorder, however rather than this reflecting an increase in prevalence this may reflect
- increased awareness of auditory processing and how difficulties can significantly affect a child’s ability to listen and learn in the classroom and progress academically
- greater availability of testing
- increased research in the assessment and management of auditory processing disorders
- a change in classroom environments (i.e. poor classroom acoustics (hard surfaces and flooring, open-plan classes of large numbers of children), creative seating where children may not always have good visual access to written information and change seat regularly etc.) No longer are classrooms “kids-on-grids”.
Who should diagnose a child with an Auditory Processing Disorder?
A qualified Audiologist is the recognised professional to diagnose a child with an Auditory Processing Disorder. An Audiologist has a University Master’s Degree in Audiology and is specifically trained to perform comprehensive hearing assessments and has an in depth understanding of one’s auditory system. A number of allied health professionals may screen a child for auditory processing difficulties and where concerns are identified will refer to an audiologist for definitive audiological assessment.