For my last blog post, I decided to get a bit more personal about myself. I was diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) as an infant after my parents we’re concerned when I haven’t yet spoke even being over 2 years old.
APD is defined as the difficulty for the central nervous system to process auditory information according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. However, this is not a result of any other cognitive disorder such as autism. The cause is currently unknown. Some of the symptoms include difficulty reading, being distracted easily in loud environments, difficulty in following oral directions if given in a series instead of one by one and taking longer to process auditory information. All of these symptoms were listed by The Learning Disabilities Association of America.
The reason I discuss my personal learning disability was because of our recent lecture on language and I thought I could compare our lecture on language to APD. There are 4 main subgroups that are often (but not always) affected by APD, according to Understand.Org. Auditory discrimination involves the ability to compare and distinguish between different sounds, auditory figure-ground discrimination involves the ability to focus on a specific sound in a nosy environment that includes multiple sounds, auditory memory involves the ability to recall what you heard, and finally auditory sequencing involves the ability to understand and recall the order of sounds and/or words. Specifically, I will discuss auditory discrimination.
The effect of APD on auditory discrimination could be on speech segmentation. Speech segmentation is used to aid in phoneme identification by “cutting” the stream of sound into segments we can understand, which are separated by pauses. These pauses however are just our perception and don’t actually occur when we speak. The information of these pauses may be so delayed with those of APD that it may not actually be heard, so all that is heard is a long stream of different sounds. Or, its possible that due to the delay in processing the information, the pauses are placed in the wrong places in what’s heard. Either way, this would cause difficulty understanding what was said.
The effect on auditory discrimination by APD could also be on coarticulation. Coarticulation is that when we speak, we already begin to articulate the next phoneme before finishing the last phoneme. With APD delaying the processing of auditory information, its possible that someone with APD struggles to distinguish that although these phonemes overlap, they are separate phonemes that create the morphemes of words. The effect on coarticulation could be further explained with categorical perception. Categorical perception is when people are better at hearing the differences between categories of sounds than hearing the variations within a category of sounds. A personal example of the effect on categorical perception is that if my parents told me “please go grab the box”, I would bring back a sock or they would say “clean your room” and I would think they said “bring a broom”. As you can guess, this can be incredibly frustrating for both parties involved.
Even today, I still struggle with this disorder. I have a hard time listening to people in loud rooms, I’m almost exclusively a visual and “hands-on” learner, and I struggle with a made-up term I created called “wordisms”. I define wordisms as when I confuse two different but similar defining words. For example, sometimes I’ll refer a cabinet as a drawer. I conceptually understand the difference between a cabinet and a drawer but in a conversation I’ll confuse the two very easily.
How would you relate our current knowledge of cognitive psychology to these three other subgroups of APD? Explain in comments below!