Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Screening 

The Empowered Learning Trust is working collaboratively with a local audiologist and Health Reporoa to check ear health and then screen all year 4 students for APD. 



What is Auditory Processing Disorder?

Children with Auditory Processing difficulties have normally functioning ears, and so are able to HEAR sounds well, but have a lot of difficulty when it comes to UNDERSTANDING what they hear.

The ears are not the cause for challenges in these children – rather it is the way the brain processes and interprets sound that is the difficulty.

A child with normal hearing that has APD could have the following problems:

  • poor listening skills

  • difficulty understanding in noisy environments

  • difficulty staying focused and concentrating, especially in a noisy room

  • trouble remembering information presented to them verbally

  • problems carrying out multi-step instructions

  • trouble locating sounds

  • difficulty with reading, spelling, comprehension and vocabulary



Auditory Processing has been defined by APD pioneer, Dr. Jack Katz, as “What we do with what we hear.” Our ears, when in a healthy, undamaged condition, are like precision microphones.  But in order for them to work as intended, they depend on the processing of the central auditory nervous system (CANS) to receive their signals and convert them into meaningful, intelligible, and faithful reproductions of the sounds entering the ears. 

In effect, we ultimately “hear” with our brain, not our ears.



Our staff use the Acoustic Pioneer screening program under the supervision of an audiologist.

Ears are checked by an audiologist or nurses from Health Reporoa. Any children with occluded ears, ear infections, etc are referred on for treatment.


Children then participate in the Acoustic Pioneer APD screener tool. This takes about 30 minutes and will test a variety of areas of hearing and processing of sounds. A quiet room free from distractions is important.


Children who have a high degree of difficulty with any of the tasks participate in the “Hear Builder” program delivered at school. This program is designed to help improve auditory memory. It focuses on:

  • phonological awareness

  • sequencing

  • following instructions

  • auditory memory


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To date we have found that as many as 25% of the year 4 students screened have weaknesses with auditory processing. There are a smaller percentage that are highly affected by auditory processing difficulties (5%)

Read about the results of our projects apple