What APD is, how it’s diagnosed, how to support a pupil with APD.

What APD is

The British Society of Audiology (2018) states that APD is characterised by poor perception of speech and non-speech sounds. 

It has its origins in impaired neural function. This impacts on everyday life mainly through a reduced ability to listen, and therefore respond appropriately to speech and other sounds. 

How APD is diagnosed

APD requires a specialist assessment by a doctor. 

Individuals typically present at clinics reporting:

  • listening difficulties
  • other behaviours consistent with hearing loss, despite a normal audiogram

These behaviours include: 

  • greater difficulty hearing in noise
  • mishearing speech
  • frequent requests for repetition
  • poor attention to or memory of auditory instructions

APD is often found alongside other conditions which may involve vision and the cognitive functions of: 

  • language
  • speech
  • attention
  • executive function
  • fluid reasoning
  • memory
  • emotion

APD may therefore include both auditory and cognitive elements. 

How to support a pupil with APD

Ways to support a pupil with APD include:

  • sitting the pupil towards the front of the room near wherever the teacher sits, middle or side, so they can have access to both visual and auditory information and to see peers during discussions
  • reducing auditory and visual distractions: keep student away from background noise sources such as outside noise or equipment in the classroom
  • speaking in a clear voice, being careful not to over-articulate
  • making sure your face is visible to the class: don’t stand in front of windows to avoid being in shadow
  • gaining attention before giving instructions and regularly checking for attention
  • encouraging the pupil to ask for clarification, self-monitoring and self-regulation
  • frequently paraphrasing or summarising important points

If you’re using Assistive Listening Devices (for example, Radio Systems and Soundfield Systems): 

  • make sure they’re working
  • position the microphone of the transmitter worn by the speaker appropriately
  • remember to ‘mute’ the system when speaking individually to another child or teacher

To improve the acoustic environment, consider:

  • reducing background noise by:
    • closing doors and windows
    • switching off any unnecessary equipment
    • using foam or felt inside pen pots or utensil storage to reduce clatter
    • managing group work effectively to reduce unnecessary noise
    • using felt pads or rubber stops on table and chair legs to reduce scrape on hard floors
  • minimising reverberation by: 
    • carpeting floors
    • using curtains, blinds, rugs, mats wherever possible 
    • using soft display boards
    • hanging displays across the room in line with health and safety guidelines

To improve the visual environment, consider:

  • good lighting in the classroom 
  • not standing in front of the windows when teaching 
  • arranging seating so that the pupil can see you
  • keeping visual distractions to a minimum, for example change flickering lights
  • standing to the side when using the interactive whiteboard

Contact us
Sensory Support Service
Elmfield House
Greystoke Avenue
Westbury-on-Trym
BS10 6AY

Phone: 0117 903 8442
Text: 07810 506 669
Email: sensorysupportservice@bristol.gov.uk