I was talking to a friend recently when I ended up opening up about this disorder, and I think it was one of the first times in my life where I had actually explained what APD actually is to another person and admitted to having it. It was then that I realised it was probably time I opened up about it and it may even shock some of my close family and friends as it isn’t something I talk openly about usually.
Auditory Processing Disorder or APD is a disorder in which the person struggles to process information that is heard. It is not a hearing problem, it is, in fact, a problem within the brain. It is when the brain is unable to process the information being given verbally and cannot distinguish similar sounds. This makes any audible information difficult to process. Auditory Processing Disorder affects around 5% of school-aged children and is classed as a learning difficulty.
I don’t really recall being badly affected as a child or at least it never really seemed to iritate me back then as much as it does now. It wasn’t until much later in my teens that I was actually diagnosed with APD and I chose to keep it to myself out of embarrassment and being misunderstood. I was always a rather closed person until I started this blog and I feel like I’ve revealed more about myself in almost 2 years of blogging than in 22 years of living.
That doesn’t mean that my APD has gone unnoticed. There are many things that my family and friends pick up on and ask questions about such as:
‘Why do you always wear headphones whilst on the phone?’
‘Why don’t you just phone them up yourself?’
‘Why do you always have the subtitles on your TV?’
‘Were you even listening?’
‘Why do you hate going to the cinema?’
And there have been many times in which I have just lied and said ‘I have a hearing problem’ because that’s easier to explain. But the truth is, I don’t have a hearing problem. I can hear perfectly fine, and it’s time I opened up about it.
I’ll say “I can’t hear” instead of “I can’t understand”.
This makes having a conversation very difficult at times, and it does create a barrier when I am meeting new people who do not understand or are unaware of my problem. The people close to me don’t seem to mind so much when I ask them to repeat themselves multiple times in one conversation.
Being on the phone has added complications such as not being able to use their mouth to attempt to lip-read if I can’t understand what they are saying. I find wearing headphones can help block out the sounds around me so I can try to really concentrate on the single voice and not any background noises. It can also be made difficult if the other person has a lot of background noise and I find that certain accents can be harder to understand and make out.
I watch TV, YouTube and any other entertainment with the subtitles and if subtitles aren’t available it’s unlikely that I will watch it. I barely go to the cinema despite the fact that they have special subtitle screenings, my earliest memory of actually struggling to a point of frustration with this disorder was when I was 13 trying to watch Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1 in cinema. I had to walk out mid-screening because of how hard it was to understand.
I think suffering from APD has definitely contributed to my love for reading. It’s really nice to be able to read and understand the words and not have the complications that I have with watching TV or having a conversation. I recently started listening to Audiobooks which is something I have avoided for a very long time due to this disorder. I have to take a gamble on which books I choose as some of the audiobook narrators are harder to understand than others but I have found a favourite, who happens to be Zachary Webber. He seems to talk slower than most narrators, I found his words were pronounced fine and his voice was generally pleasing to listen to. There is an option to control the speed of the voice but I find that it generally affects the quality of the verbal input. I will be sharing my thoughts on listening to audiobooks in another post so if you are interested in reading more about that please keep your eyes peeled.
There have been times where it’s provided entertainment in my life such as when I have misinterpreted something I’ve heard whilst I was with a friend of a family member and we have had a laugh about it. I will find out years later that I’ve been saying things wrong or singing a song wrong. But when it is someone I am not as close to or a complete stranger, it is rather embarrassing.
I can say openly that it does affect my social life, despite already suffering from severe anxiety when I am able to tackle that I am faced with not being able to tolerate a loud social setting and finding basic conversation difficult. With my 4-year-old starting school this year, I am finding myself put in more regular social settings which have caused my embarrassment for this disorder to spike as I don’t want it to come between starting a new friendship and stop me from wanting to socialize.
I decided to write this post because I need to be honest with myself, and with those around me. I have opened up about topics that are sensitive to me in the past and it has always made me feel rather liberated and I’m hoping this will be one of those posts. I also hope that this post helps educate some of you about this disorder.
Do you have your own expeirence with APD? Share them with me in the comments as I’d love to speak to someone else who also struggle with this learning difficulty.