The Secret Connection Between Auditory Processing Disorder & ADD

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The Secret Connection Between Auditory Processing Disorder & ADD

Kids with autism spectrum disorder can frequently have auditory processing problems.  But symptoms of auditory processing disorder overlap with attention deficit disorder.  How can parents tell the difference?   

School children with central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) have difficulty understanding what is said to them, but will usually pass a hearing test.  They are often labeled at school with poor listening skills, difficulty focusing, hyperactivity disorders, language disorders and attention problems.

Let’s talk about whether these symptoms point to attention deficit disorder or auditory processing disorder. 

sensory processing disorder

Did You Know?

Kids with APD are frequently misdiagnosed with ADHD

Auditory Processing Disorder List of Symptoms

Your child may not process sound correctly or hear subtle differences in words. Kids will have a disconnect between what they hear and how the brain understands the information.

Kids with APD do not have a hearing problem.  However, they do not move sound through their central nervous system correctly.

Teachers and family members may even believe the child has a learning disorder.

 (APD) auditory processing disorder can look like:

  • child has a hard time telling the difference between similar sounds- more so in loud versus quiet environments (auditory discrimination).
  • confused by background noise in social situations and noisy environments,
  • loud noises in the home and school (ie..hum of the air conditioner) are distracting
  • delayed language development 

Action Step

Keep a checklist of your child's behaviors to show to the treatment team.  This can help the team make an accurate diagnosis.

What Causes Auditory Processing Disorder?

Chronic ear infections

Childhood illnesses (chickenpox, flu, etc.)

Pregnancy issues (gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, premature birth)


Other medical conditions

How Is Auditory Processing Disorder Diagnosed?
sensory processing

The evaluation process will start with an audiologist  talking with parents and reviewing a list of symptoms. They will also communicate with the child’s pediatrician to make sure a medical condition has been ruled out.  The audiologist will perform specific tests and a speech language pathologist will perform an evaluation also.

An early diagnosis with appropriate intervention can help children differentiate sounds, create listening strategies and provide other modifications for academic success.

Attention Deficit Disorder
Although auditory processing disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have some similarities there are significant differences in the two diagnosis. 
Kids with ADHD may have poor listening skills, difficulty focusing,  significant differences interpreting verbal information, but the major difference is the child is hyperactive and impulsive.
The only way to really know the correct diagnosis for your child is through a pediatrician or other medical professional.  This diagnosis allows your child to get the most appropriate treatment.
How is Auditory Processing Disorder Treated?
auditory processing
What's Next?

About Brewgirl

Hey there!  I'm Betsy.  Mom, RN, special education teacher and blogger at The Autism Daily Brew.  Working hard to bring you the best resources in autism.