Because the symptoms of APDs overlap with other disorders, they cannot simply be diagnosed from a checklist of symptoms.
A clinical diagnosis of APD needs to be done by an audiologist. They use various auditory processing function tests including the ‘Listening in Spatialized Noise – Sentences’ test (LiSN-S). This test checks for Spatial Processing Disorder, one of the most prevalent types of APDs.
Prior to receiving a clinical test, a useful screener for APDs and other hearing issues in children is an app test called Sound Scouts. Also designed in collaboration with the National Acoustic Laboratories, Sound Scouts provides easy access to a hearing test that delivers an immediate report, including next steps, if a hearing loss is detected.
While Sound Scouts is not a clinical tool, it is a great starting point, if your child is having any hearing or related behavioural issues.
The link between Spatial Processing Disorder and Otitis Media
According to a University of Melbourne study* children who suffered middle ear disease (otitis media) in early childhood were found to suffer from spatial listening deficits that persist for years after. These deficits can occur even when hearing thresholds – as tested by an audiologist – are within the normal range.
Spatial listening difficulties can lead to poor understanding of a teacher’s voice in a noisy classroom and disrupt everyday communication and academic progress.
It is recommended that children with a known history of middle ear disease be assessed for spatial listening ability at school entry. If Spatial Processing Disorder is diagnosed, an appropriate intervention for these children would include remedial strategies such as auditory training with Sound Storm.