Auditory Processing Disorders in children : the perspectives and practices of South African audiologists/STA's.
Audiologists/ Speech Therapists and Audiologists (STA’s) practicing in the field of Auditory Processing Disorders (APD) globally, encounter several challenges that include but are not limited to conflicting definitions, variable diagnostic criteria, several classification profiles and lack of standardised guidelines for screening, assessment and intervention. In South Africa, audiologists/ STA’s experience further challenges related to working within a diverse multicultural and multilingual context when attempting to manage children with APD. This study investigated the perspectives and practices of South African audiologists/ STA’s in screening, assessing and providing intervention for children with APD. A descriptive survey design, with quantitative methods of analysis, was used to obtain information from audiologists/ STA’s registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA, 2014), of which 156 responded. The data was analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics. Overall 68% (n = 106) of the participants did not feel adequately prepared to practice in the field of APD. Seventy five percent (p = 0.00) of audiologists and 35% of STA’s reported their level of experience as being ‘limited’, which was statically significant. Forty percent (n = 62) of the sample felt that they were either ‘poorly’ or ‘very poorly’ informed to screen for APD, 44% (n = 68) to assess for APD, and 53% (n = 82) to provide intervention. Sixty percent (n = 93) screened for APD, whilst only 42% (n = 66) assessed for APD. Some of the reasons cited include; lack of exposure to APD during their undergraduate programme, inappropriate screening and assessment material due to cultural and linguistic barriers and limited resources to manage children with APD. Eighty five percent (n = 133) received referrals from other practitioners for the management of APD, yet only 43% (n = 67) of the participants offered intervention. Similar findings were reported in studies conducted locally and internationally. It can therefore be concluded that service provision in the area of APD in South Africa, is limited which is exacerbated by several contextual constraints. Based on the study findings of the current study, relevant research and clinical implications were recommended.