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Also known as APD and Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD), Auditory Processing Disorder is a neurological condition that impacts the way the brain is able to process what is heard. Children with Auditory Processing Disorder are often not diagnosed right away because their symptoms mirror so many other conditions, such as ADD or ADHD.
As you can see, many of these symptoms can easily mirror other conditions, or even just be characteristics of kids who have struggles, but aren’t diagnosed with actual disabilities or conditions.
The first stop is usually the pediatrician, who can help assess general health, especially of the ears. It is usually advised that children be at least 7 or 8 years of age before having these assessments done because the child needs to feel comfortable in the testing situation and able to respond at age-appropriate levels.
The examiner gives various verbal directions to the child in a series of tests, some timed and some untimed. As a relatively new condition in the scheme of medical diagnoses, there is not a unifying consensus as to what causes APD or the definitive ways for which professionals can test and diagnosis the condition. Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is an abnormality in the brain's ability to filter and process sounds and words.
Most people with APD will usually pass a hearing test and often have normal intelligence.   However, since the brain receives sounds incorrectly, they may not recognize subtle differences between sounds in words (duh and guh for example), and they may have difficulty using those sounds for speech and language.


Many children with APD have trouble screening out background noise, so surrounding sounds from air conditioners, hallways, and noisy environments such as gymnasiums make it very difficult to understand speech.  It’s like listening to a radio station with static or other stations interfering with the reception. Somewhere between the sounds that are heard and how the brain remembers or understands those sounds, the information is jumbled or even lost. Speech-language pathologists can assess communication proficiencies and make recommendations for further testing as well. When my child went through this testing process, it helped to allow him time to become comfortable in the sound proof room before beginning the exam, and I was allowed to sit on the other side of the window where he could see me for reassurance. Some responses are recorded with hand signals, and often buzzer systems are used to mark answers. Instead, comprehensive testing by a team of medical professional and symptoms that continue for more than 6 months are important to making an accurate diagnosis. You have clearly and simply explained APD which will definitely help any parent wondering if this is the issue with their child. What makes this condition so challenging to diagnose and so frustrating for many parents whose children struggle with this condition is that functional hearing is usually not affected in people with APD – it is the processing of sounds that is affected. Parents who are concerned about their children’s processing have several options for testing.


If structural auditory health is not an issue and there are no recurring ear infections that could be contributing, the next step is often to meet with an audiologist or professional who specializes in auditory processing tests. It is amazing that subtle changes in how questions are phrased can be clues to APD, and no one single test gives the definitive answer.
If your child has been diagnosed with auditory processing disorder, there are therapies and strategies that can be used to improve communication and language skills.
These tests go beyond hearing tests and measure the ability to process the information that the ears hear. Instead, through mapping the results of many tests, audiologists and APD specialists can either rule out or further include APD as a diagnosis. Since these individuals struggle to process (or interpret) what they hear, it causes listening problems that often mimic a hearing loss.



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