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Auditory processing 

Auditory processing disorder (APD)  is the difficulty in understanding speech. Think about hearing the sentence “I need to break the weeds” instead of “I need to rake the leaves.” I am sure all of you can think back to a few times where you thought you heard someone say something totally ridiculous when you just heard them wrong. This is what people with APD experience, but much more frequently than normal. APD can also involve having trouble filtering sounds when in a noisy environment. Let’s learn more.

Signs of APD 

Difficulty understanding someone’s speech 

Difficulty responding to someone’s speech 

Asking for someone to repeat their words 

Feeling like you are always speaking too loudly 

Having trouble understanding conversations when in a loud environment 

Difficulty remembering what has been said 

Feeling like noises are louder than what other people perceive 

Needing to pause and rewind audiobooks, podcasts, or TV to better understand them

Why does this happen?

Some studies suggest that the changes to the basal ganglia and brainstem in those with PD specifically contribute to APD. It is a processing error, not changes in your hearing. As you age, hearing loss is common and a part of the aging process. Therefore, there can be some overlap in symptoms between APD and hearing loss. This makes it difficult to diagnose at times. Research has also shown that there is trouble processing the intensity and duration of sounds in those with PD. This leads to the inability to process the pitch correctly. 

What to do if you think you have APD 

See an audiologist or an ENT to determine your changes are not related to hearing changes. They can also look for APD or other hearing issues related to PD.

Speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists can help tremendously with those with APD. They can provide exercises and modifications that will help improve your quality of life. 

If you are still working, talk with your employer about resources/accommodations that can be provided to you via the ADA. 

Talk with your movement disorder specialist and primary care provider. These two providers should be kept in the know with any changes in your symptoms to ensure that you get in the right hands. Your movement disorder specialist and primary care provider should be one of the first providers you see/talk to about these symptoms.



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