Canadian Guidelines on Auditory Processing Disorder in Children and Adults: Assessment and Intervention

Please note that this document was created when SAC was called the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPA).

Released: December, 2012

The Canadian Guidelines for Assessment and Management of Auditory Processing Disorder in Children and Adults project was initiated by the Canadian Interorganizational Steering Group for Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, and created the first national guidelines developed for Canada.

This document aims to introduce a theoretical ecological framework that considers the Canadian context, and takes into account changes in audiology practice environments, the most recent international recommendations regarding auditory processing disorder (APD), changes in general approaches to health and advances in relevant sciences (such as cognitive hearing science and cognitive neuroscience).

These guidelines are based on the foundation laid by the World Health Organization International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, or ICF (WHO, 2002). The ICF has functional health as its primary focus, and emphasizes the importance of the interaction between an individual’s health conditions or status, and the contextual factors around him/her.

This report is based on a perspective that shifts the focus from cause to impact, from biological dysfunction to an individual’s ability to participate fully in his/her own life and in society; it emphasizes the importance of thinking about auditory processing as a part of the construct of cognitive hearing science, which considers the interaction between hearing and cognition.

The British Society of Audiology’s (2011a) categorizations of developmental auditory processing disorder and acquired/secondary auditory processing disorder were used to address the impact of this disorder on children vs. adults. The document proposes a management model based on the ICF which describes and addresses both personal and environmental (physical, social and societal) factors.

Recommendations are provided in three areas – conceptualizing and researching the construct of auditory processing disorder, training clinicians and facilitating continued learning, and providing, enhancing and coordinating effective services for clients. Recommendations related to conceptualization and research of APD focus on the need to research the psychometric properties of commonly used clinical tests, and to develop and research clinical tests in French, the other official language of Canada.

Continuing to work towards a cohesive definition of auditory processing disorder within an ecological framework was also identified as an important need. Recommendations regarding training clinicians and facilitating continued learning focus on the importance of providing a broad-based, interdisciplinary education for audiologists and speech-language pathologists in this area, providing mentorship opportunities for clinical practice, and finding innovative ways for professionals to continue learning from the research and from professional collaboration.

Recommendations related to providing, enhancing and coordinating effective services call for audiologists and speech-language pathologists to advocate for effective, integrated services for clients (such as advocating for a stronger audiology presence in schools, and long term care facilities), and for improved inter-professional teamwork and services.

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