The 4 Subtypes of Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)

There are 4 subtypes of Auditory Processing Disorder, depending upon where along the way to the brain the "signals" get distorted or lost:

  1. "Tolerance/Fading Memory" subtype
  2. "Decoding" subtype
  3. "Integration" subtypes
  4. "Prosodic" subtype (often seen with NLD or non-verbal learning disability)

The following checklist is courtesy of Judith W. Paton, M.A. Audiologist and Bonnie G. Rattner, Ed. D, Speech/Language Pathologist.

"Tolerance/Fading Memory" subtype:

  • Often seems to "ignore" people, especially if engrossed.
  • Hears less well, or is less attentive/productive, in ordinarily busy surroundings.
  • Difficulty following a series of spoken directions.
  • Unusually forgetful of information previously memorized (such as multiplication tables, correct spelling), or of household or school routines and responsibilities, despite frequent reminders.

"Decoding" subtype:

  • Difficulty with phonics (sounding out words) approach to reading.
  • Confuses similar-sounding words; may learn words wrong.
  • Poor speller: errors phonetically correct (e.g. "littul" for little), errors seem random (wrong sounds, sounds/syllables missing/added)
  • Problems with speech clarity or articulation, or with grammar, now or in the past.

"Integration" subtype:

  • Marked difficulty reading or writing efficiently, despite knowledge of phonics.
  • Needs to (or should) ask many extra questions to clarify task before starting; "doesn't get the picture."
  • Interprets words too literally, becoming confused or suffering hurt feelings.
  • Poor "communicator" — fails to explain, apologize, negotiate, defend.
  • Speaks or writes "telegraphically" — omits facts or switches topic, so that audience cannot follow train of thought.

"Prosodic" subtype:

(often seen with NLD or non-verbal learning disability):
  • Absorbs details and facts, but misses the "big picture" — cannot prioritize or summarize information.
  • Insensitive to tone of voice; may misjudge speaker's mood or be unintentionally tactless.
  • Problems with cause-and-effect reasoning; difficulty surmising the unspoken rules of conversation, play, and other situations.

Narrowing Auditory Processing Disorder down into a subtype(s) through audiologic testing will determine the right kind of therapy and help.

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More info: General Signs of Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)

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