Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) in Children: Guide

Campbell, N., Grant, P., Moore, D,R. and Rosen, S. | View as single page | Feedback/Impact


Here are some of the most helpful technologies for auditory processing disorder:

  • Remote microphone technology or personal assistive listening devices help reduce background noise and reverberation so that the child can hear the teacher’s voice more clearly.  The technology is specifically for children with normal hearing.  The teacher wears a clip-on wireless microphone.  The microphone transmits his/her voice directly to a child’s receiver, worn on the ear.  The older technology used frequency modulation (FM) listening systems (the same FM frequencies radio stations use).  Examples of digital remote microphone technology include the Phonak Roger Focus system and GN Resound APD bundle.  Most companies offer a returns period.  For more information see the ‘Technology for APD’ handout in the ‘Practical handouts’ section.
  • Sound field systems relay the teacher’s voice to speakers placed at different locations in the room. This helps to distribute the teacher’s voice evenly throughout the classroom, so all students can hear it well regardless of where they seated. Some systems have a pass-around microphone for use during class discussions. These types of systems are often used for conferences and in theatres and cinemas.
  • Noise-cancelling headphones can help block out background noise when individual work needs to be done. 
  • Headphones - if the child needs to listen to audio recordings (e.g. in second language classes, he/she can listen through the headphones to help block out background noise.

It is crucial that an audiologist, ahead of any consideration of personal assistive listening technology, evaluates the child’s hearing and middle ear function to rule out hearing loss and any problems requiring audiological intervention, or onward medical referral.

APD technology is not a substitute for other intervention that may be required, e.g. speech and language support or learning support.

A trial with technology is advised before final fitting to ensure benefit and acceptance.

For some children extra technology can be a distractor.  It is also important to consider the classroom modifications discussed under the section 'Acoustic environment' alongside any technology trials or fittings.

Teachers should be offered training and there should also be support in place to check and support the child’s use of technology on a day-to-day basis.

Alongside the variability of APD services around the UK the service provision of these technologies and support at educational level is variable.  Where local education authorities are unable to offer funding or support parents may need to self-fund the technology, or approach a charity.  This is an area of considerable frustration for many parents and educators, and one that needs to be addressed.  The British Society of Audiology’s APD Steering Committee is working closely and supporting the UK Children's Radio Aid Working Group who is promoting greater access to assistive listening technology and support for children with hearing impairment and also those with APD.  CLICK HERE

A newer type of technology that is emerging is Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPS).  They are mostly off-the-shelf amplifiers (look like hearing aids) for adults with normal hearing who want a little boost in volume in certain settings such as to watch television without disturbing other people nearby, or bird watching.  They may help people hear things that are at low volume or at a distance.  PSAPs have been described as the audio version of reading glasses.  More research is however needed to determine both benefit and any risks in children.  The potential risks are greater in children who are young and/or unable to report on the function of the device or potential problems.  The American Academy of Audiology (2018) provides more information about this type of technology.

 The Practical handouts section provides useful tips and practical information.