There are many behaviors that may point to APD.

Individuals with APD demonstrate a poor ability to:

  • Direct or divide attention

  • Discriminate subtle differences in sounds and words

  • Read, spell, write, understand vocabulary, or learn a foreign language

  • Understand rapid speech

  • Hear in noisy, social environments

  • Recognize and integrate a sequence of sounds into words or other combinations

  • Remember and/or comprehend spoken information

  • Understand instructions

  • Follow long conversations

  • Follow multi-step directions

  • Maintain focus on an activity if other sounds are present

  • Take written notes from speech

  • Complete verbal math problems

  • Learn songs or rhymes

Because these symptoms overlap with other disorders, auditory processing disorder cannot be diagnosed from this list of symptoms alone. The condition can only be diagnosed by audiologists, who use tests that measure specific auditory processing functions.

Symptoms like difficulty listening, remembering information, or understanding spoken language, make APD commonly confused with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or dyslexia, but it is distinct from both.

With ADHD and dyslexia, there is no impairment of the processing of auditory input in the central nervous system.

Children with ADHD tend to exhibit inattention, distractibility, and hyperactivity in any environment, while children with APD usually don’t have difficulty focusing and paying attention in quiet environments.

While those with dyslexia also have difficulty memorizing, spelling, thinking and/or understanding, these difficulties do not exist because of an inability to hear clearly. Unlike APD, dyslexia is a language-based learning disability.

Sources: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; Auditory Processing Center;