Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory processing disorder (APD), also referred to as central auditory processing disorder (CAPD), describes problems originating within the areas of the central nervous system responsible for processing sound. In most cases, an individual with APD will have no significant hearing loss, but will struggle to make sense of the signals their ears supply, leading some to describe APD as “dyslexia of the ears”.

APD can affect adults and children, and it is possible to acquire the disorder in adulthood as a result of damage to the central nervous system occurring through illness or injury.

Common Symptoms

The symptoms of APD are subjective and can vary significantly between individuals. However, many people with APD:

–  Find it particularly difficult to follow speech in noisy environments

–  Struggle to understand instructions or recall information delivered verbally

–  Have problems with reading and spelling

–  Have difficulty discriminating between speech sounds.

Behavioral problems and poor academic performance are also common amongst school-age children with APD. Parents or teachers may notice a child has difficulty communicating; they may perform poorly in reading or tasks involving verbal instruction while demonstrating their aptitude for learning elsewhere, or they may behave as if they have a hearing impairment in spite of passing school hearing screens.

Early Diagnosis and Intervention are Critical

Many factors can affect an individual’s ability to understand, recall and act upon auditory information and the symptoms of APD are common to numerous other disorders, including autistic spectrum disorders (ASD), specific language impairment (SLI), attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as developmental delay and acquired brain damage. It is also possible for an individual to have APD along with other disorders.

A diagnosis of auditory processing disorder can therefore only be reached following careful evaluation by a qualified audiologist skilled in administering and interpreting highly specialized tests of auditory function.

Confirming the presence of APD in children under seven years of age can present a particular challenge because the rate at which younger children’s brains develop can vary greatly, even within normal limits. However, if APD is suspected in a young child it is extremely important to seek help at the earliest possible opportunity because early intervention can do much to minimize the impact of the disorder upon many aspects of development, including language acquisition and behavior.

A Personalized Approach to Treatment

Management plans for auditory processing disorder must be carefully tailored to suit the needs of the individual. They may include interventions that directly target the specific form of APD present and/or exercises designed to enhance language skills, memory, attention and problem-solving capabilities to compensate more generally for the auditory deficit. Therapy can be delivered in a group or one-to-one setting, or via computer-based training packages.

Some individuals may also benefit from the use of assistive technologies, visual supports or additional training in communication strategies for themselves and the people they interact with regularly.

How Audiology and Speech Solutions Can Help

Based in lower Westchester County, Audiology and Speech solutions offers a comprehensive range of services to help individuals with APD to reach their full potential for effective learning and communication.

Our services include:

  • Diagnostic testing performed by an audiologist skilled in early identification of APD
  • Highly individualized one-to-one treatment plans
  • Fitting of hearing aids, Frequency Modulated (FM) systems and other assisted listening devices
  • Group therapy delivered at our lower Westchester County offices
  • Computer-based therapies including FastForward and Integrative Worx.
  • School consultations.

For more information on how we can help, please contact us at 914 588 8088.


American Academy of Audiology (2010). Practice Guidelines for the Diagnosis, Treatment, and Management of Children and Adults with Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD). American Academy of Audiology Practice Guidelines. [report] American Academy of Audiology.

URL (2013). Auditory Processing Disorders (APD) in Children. [online] Retrieved from: [Accessed: 7 Aug 2013].

Chermak, G. D., Hall, J. W., & Musiek, F. E. (1999). Differential diagnosis and management of central auditory processing disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 10(6), 289–303.

MeSH Identifier: C09.218.807.186.094