Does everyone with Autism have Audio Processing Disorder?
This article will not be a scientific analysis, or academic view of Audio Processing Disorder, or it’s relationship with autism. What this article will be is a personal account on the effects of this condition.
In 2008, I was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism. This diagnosis shed a bright light on a lifetime of challenging traits, and previously unexplained symptoms. Of these symptoms, the one that has caused the majority of problems, has been the enormous difficulty I have in processing information. Speaking is hard, tiring work, and other peoples speech is no more than a vague collection of sounds, from which I attempt to extract meaning.
I recently had an additional diagnosis of APD, Auditory Processing Disorder. This particular disorder appears to describe the same, or very similar information processing problems experienced by people with autism. So, does this mean that everyone with autism also has Auditory Processing Disorder? It’s my understanding that APD exists as a stand-alone condition. I have met people with APD that are not on the autistic spectrum, yet practically every autistic person I know, has auditory processing difficulties. This is why we, (people on the autistic spectrum,) need time to answer, react and form opinions on things. It’s also one of the reasons we misinterpret things people say to us, and get unnecessarily upset. Deficits in our inability to process other peoples verbal instructions, along with our frustration at not always finding our words quickly enough to express ourselves, keeps us in state of anxiety and confusion. It contributes to our feelings of isolation and disconnection with our environment.
What do the experts say?
As with many aspects of autism, I’ve found that there is no clear cut professional opinion on whether everyone with autism also, by default, has Auditory Processing Disorder. I’ve always liked to find exact answers for things, and try to understand how everything fits together. I guess its my autistic need to create order and certainty. It’s just that I feel everyone I’ve ever met with autism, would, like me, probably qualify for an APD diagnosis, and this confuses me a little. It muddies the diagnostic waters. Perhaps I am over analysing this, but from a personal perspective, I am really trying to understand if my problems are due to APD, Autism, or both. Perhaps it shouldn’t really matter. But it’s Important for me to have labels I can stick on things. To be able to clarify, and isolate the conditions that lay behind the challenges I face in life.
There is a lot of information out there about autism, but not very much about Auditory Processing Disorder. My guess is that not many people know about this condition. It’s certainly not talked about much in the media. I also think that to some degree, most people have natural strengths and weaknesses in their ability to process information. It just becomes a diagnosable condition when the deficits in this area are so significant, they affect a persons ability to function in the world, and live independently.
So my question to you is…
If you are on the autistic spectrum, do you also have a separate diagnosis of Auditory Processing Disorder. Or, am I unique in having this particular combination of diagnoses.
If you are a professional working in the area of Speech Therapy, Autism or related areas, please contribute to the conversation. Your knowledge will be greatly welcome.
Thanks for reading.