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types of auditory processing disorder

Types of Auditory Processing Disorder

Categories and Sub Types of APD

There are five main types of auditory processing disorder, all defined based on varying symptoms. Auditory Processing Disorder will not present the same way in every child and usually exists as a blend of difficulties. The types of APD are:

  1. Auditory hypersensitivity — poor tolerance for background sounds.
  2. Phonetic decoding — an inability to process language at natural language speed.
  3. Auditory integration  — slowness integrating things heard with things seen.
  4. Prosodic —  processing inefficiency that makes it hard to think while listening.
  5. Organizational deficit – physical organization, planning delays.

Auditory Hypersensitivity

Auditory hypersensitivity is sometimes called tolerance-fading memory. Symptoms include:

  • Does not hear well in busy or noisy environment
  • Often misses steps when listening to multiple step directions
  • Often seems to “ignore” people due to need to concentrate hard to understand a speaker
  • Unusually forgetful of memorized information (such as multiplication tables, correct spelling) or household routines, despite frequent reminders

These symptoms of Tolerance-Fading Memory all relate to difficulty capturing and processing information in the first place due to intolerance to background noise. This lack of “capture” practice does however also mean working memory and longer term memory skills are not as well exercised and developed as they should be.

“Decoding” subtype
Symptoms include:

  • 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) or seem random (wrong sounds, sounds/syllables missing/added)
  • Problems with speech clarity or articulation, or with grammar, now or in the past

“Integration” subtypes
The symptoms of auditory integration deficit include:

  • 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.”

Because auditory processing difficulties of any kind pull brain capacity away from comprehension and “integration,” these integration difficulties are found in most cases of auditory processing disorder.

“Prosodic” subtype
Symptoms include:

  • Absorbs details and facts, but misses the “big picture”
  • Can misjudge speaker’s mood or be unintentionally tactless
  • Struggles with cause-and-effect reasoning


Organizational deficit

The difficulty here is around sequencing, a cognitive skill that impacts not only language, but also multiple-step directions. An important component of processing information is the ability to manipulate and sequence meaningfully.  This extends to organizing notes or study materials and planning.

The Gemm Learning Programs

Our program, Fast ForWord, is an intensive intervention to help all types of auditory processing disorder, with specific exercises that work directly on each of the sub-type categories listed above.
Auditory processing programs to help children and adults

Gemm Learning uses Fast ForWord software at home to build essential language processing and pre-reading skills, and then reading comprehension.

“First, we noticed that he was participating in family conversations when he used to tune out because it was too hard to follow and he was picking up on subtleties in a way he never did before. But now, after doing your Summer Intensive (for two months), he has made stronger gains than he made in three years of (special ed classes). I am not saying that the special ed class was inferior, it was just not equipped to address an auditory processing disorder and Fast ForWord has done this. Thank you again for being accessible whenever we have questions. This is a dream come true for us.”

Meg J.

Parent of 5th grader with APD diagnosis



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