Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) (previously known as “Central Auditory Processing Disorder” (CAPD) is a disorder in the way auditory information is processed in the brain. It is not primarily due to a sensory (inner ear) or hearing impairment; individuals with APD usually have peripheral hearing within a normal range. APD is an umbrella term that describes a variety of problems in the neurological pathways between the ear and the brain that can interfere with processing auditory information including: inability to hear auditory messages, distinguish between similar sounds or words, separate relevant speech from background noise, and the ability to recall and comprehend what was heard. Auditory processing disorders can affect development of speech, language and communication as well as reading and spelling, resulting in dyslexia and/or problems with talking and understanding.

This range of difficulties can exist as discrete categories or in combination and include specific problems such as:

  • Auditory discrimination: This describes the ability to discriminate between similar sounds such as f and th, s and f, m and n, p and b, sh and ch etc., and identify where one word ends and the next one begins
  • Lateral processing: This describes the route used from the ears to the main language decoding centre in the brain. If there is either a lack of ear preference, or a discrepancy between leading ear and dominant language centre, it can result in delay in processing the sounds of speech, or auditory confusion.
  • Orientation to acoustic stimuli: Orientation to the source of sound(s) is a precursor to being able to focus on a sound source and selectively choose to attend to it, or ignore it. Difficulty in locating the source of sound can lead to a degree of auditory confusion and attention problems.
  • Auditory delay: This can occur for a number of reasons, and is often associated with failure to establish a leading ear or a discrepancy between preferred ear and dominant language centre as above. Symptoms of auditory delay include difficulty with processing sequences of information, and the brain mis-hearing certain sounds eg. t for d.
  • Auditory confusion: This can occur when there is difficulty locating and isolating individual sounds in an environment where there are multiple sources of conflicting noise. “Cocktail party deafness” is one example of auditory confusion when background noise competes with foreground.
  • Auditory stimulus bound effect: Stimulus bound effect describes the ability to ignore irrelevant auditory stimuli in the immediate environment. Individuals who suffer from stimulus bound effect are easily distracted by irrelevant auditory stimuli.
  • Hyperacuisis: Hyperacuisis describes hyper-sensitivity to all or specific frequencies of sound resulting in pain or discomfort, difficulty processing auditory information and attention problems. Hyperacuisis is sometimes a feature of Autistic Spectrum Disorder and associated behaviours.

Johansen Individualised Auditory Stimulation (IAS) does not set out to diagnose or treat Auditory Processing Disorder, which normally requires diagnosis by an audiologist and speech and language therapist.

INPP using Johansen IAS can help to identify individual auditory processing difficulties and with the use of individual auditory stimulation, train the auditory system and related pathways to work more efficiently.

What is Johansen Individualised Auditory Stimulation (IAS)?

INPP Chester offers assessment and therapy using Johansen IAS.

Johansen IAS is one form of Sound Therapy or Auditory Integration Therapy. It has been developed in Denmark by Dr. Kjeld Johansen, (see from original work by Christian A. Volf. The programme involves listening to a series of specially recorded, individually customised music CDs for 10 to 15 minutes per day, for a period of approximately 9 months. The CDs can be listened to at any time of the day, through headphones on a personal stereo or on a more sophisticated music centre.

The music, developed in Denmark by Bent Peder Holbech of Rotna Music, is pleasant and easy to listen to and wherever possible is customised to the specific needs of the individual. The music is designed to stimulate the nerve pathways into and within the brain – in particular the areas dealing with language – and thus improve language processing abilities.

Concentration, listening and understanding of language are all enhanced as the subskills for learning become more efficient. Gains in reading and spelling are also often seen, as the ability to analyse the sound structure of words is strengthened.

Other forms of Sound Therapy include The Listening Programme, The Tomatis Method, AIT (Auditory Integration Training), Samonas Sound Therapy and Musica Medica.

For professionals seeking information about training in Johansen IAS in the UK, contact:

  • Camilla Leslie (Specialist Speech and Language Therapist, UK National Director for Johansen IAS)
    10 Kingsburgh Road
    Edinburgh EH12 6DZ
    Tel/Fax 0131 337 5427

If your child has been diagnosed, or is showing other symptoms of NMI, please complete a free NMI Child Screening Test. Alternatively, for adults, if you think neuromotor immaturity (NMI) may be a factor in your problems, please contact INPP to request a full adult information pack.