Auditory Processing Disorder
October 28, 2010 8:58 PM   Subscribe

What to do about a possible Auditory Processing Disorder?

I’m a twenty-year-old college student. Recently I’ve noticed that I have a lot of trouble focusing on conversations and class discussion, even when I try my best to follow what’s being said. After reading an AskMe post written by a user with inattentive ADHD, I began to suspect that I also had I-ADHD, for the aforementioned reasons, as well as a few others:

1) I worked as a host over the summer, and when I’d be given simple directions (“We have a party with X amount of people, so set the table with so many places,” or “We need to seat party A, then party B, and afterwards party C.”), I’d often forget a few minutes later.
2) When I go to the movies, I get bored halfway through. When I was younger and my babysitter was watching a movie, sometimes I would turn away from the movie, do something else, then turn back and ask what was going on. I can clearly remember her telling me I should just sit down and pay attention.

However, because I seem to exhibit only a few characteristics of Inattentive ADHD (those relating specifically to poor listening ability), I wonder if I actually have an Auditory Processing Disorder. It seems more likely to me, since I read that difficulty with reading and speaking is a sign of APD. It takes me a long time to complete reading assignments, mainly because I find it hard to focus. I’m also not very articulate. Sometimes I can’t express myself without stumbling over words, and at times when I try to verbalize a more complex thought, it can take me awhile to formulate what I want to say. Could this be APD? Or am I just letting my hypochondriac tendencies run wild, and equating concentration problems with a condition I don’t really have?

And if it indeed is APD, would seeking diagnosis and treatment benefit me as a student? Initially, being diagnosed seemed like it would be helpful, because I thought I could report the issue to the Office of Learning Disabilities at my school and somehow gain accommodation for the condition. But now that I really think about it, I wonder if seeing an audiologist would do anything for me besides explaining why I work more slowly than other college students. Could any accommodation really be made for this sort of condition?
posted by AndGee to Health & Fitness (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What to do about a possible Auditory Processing Disorder?

Talk to a doctor, not the internet. Once you get a real diagnosis, then weigh your options.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:00 PM on October 28, 2010

Hi. I have ADHD (the hyper type), and also some APD issues. Diagnosed with the ADHD a few years ago, and the APD just a couple of months ago. My APD got unmasked, ironically enough, when I stopped taking my ADHD drugs because they were making me miserable. I probably had it since I was a kid, I've had a speech impediment my whole life and that probably added to it.

1. Talk to the doctor, not the internet.

2. When talking to the doctor, describe what's going on. They will probably want to do a in depth hearing test. And if they don't suggest that, you suggest that. Because what may be hearing loss from APD could also be due to clogged ears, damage to the ear drum, noise-induced hearing loss, etc. Or, there could be nothing wrong at all with your hearing. My GP referred me to the hearing test first, because something like noise-induced hearing loss is a hell of a lot more common than APD, and also a lot more fixable.

3. Are you actually professionally diagnosed with ADHD? Have you been in the past? It would be worth it to pursue this diagnosis as well, if you feel that it is an issue. APD and ADHD go hand in hand in some people, and in others, the APD manifests itself in ADHD-like ways, without it actually being ADHD.

4. And as for accommodations, having a set diagnosis definitely helps.

I've had to invoke it at work once because coworkers kept coming up and talking to me in a loud lab, and where a normal person would be able to hear it just fine, my brain turns it into just random syllables. I know someone is speaking to me, and I know that that language is English, but for the life of me, I cannot make out what they said because my brain is too overwhelmed to process the sound and turn it into a meaning my brain could comprehend. A phrase like, "So, did you reboot the server?" turns into "Sew, dee a boo a surburb?", and I would stare at the asker like they're insane. Because - what?! So I explained the hearing difficulty, and my coworkers put mostly things into writing after that.

I opted not to do anything further with the APD in regards to treating it or pinning it down to an exact type, but it's definitely there, and it's good to be able to explain to someone why I can't hear them at times and to repeat what they said please.
posted by spinifex23 at 9:34 PM on October 28, 2010

The tests aren't difficult or intrusive and I'd recommend them to anyone having problems. Basically start with a referral from your PCP to an ENT who'll run the ear tests. If you test ok ("The problem isn't your ears, it's between your ears" -- love it!) then they'll send you for APD, which was at a hospital for me. It's a similar test but rather than "which ear did you hear the tone in? Was it high or low?" it was now "what word is this?" and it'd be a bit crackly.

They may do a speech test as well and they're aimed for folks with a lot of impairment, FYI. It can seem wonky.

I *wish* I had done this before college. What I know now would have let me increase my GPA by 1-1.5 or so without inconveniencing anyone at all. As it stands now I don't put my GPA on my CV because it isn't very good. You definitely don't have what I have so your mileage will be different, but yeah... do it.

For those of you in my boat, BTW, consider a masters degree. That's my game plan at least.
posted by jwells at 5:50 AM on October 29, 2010

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