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What Is Auditory Processing Disorder?

“Its like my child doesn’t hear anything that I say”!

Auditory processing disorer explained

Auditory Processing Disorders can manifest in various ways. If your child seems distracted, has trouble remembering details about things they heard you say, or seem to have a hard time with verbal math problems, it may point to APD.



I walked out into the waiting room to bring back my next appointment. Immediately I introduced myself to a third grade girl that I will call Sara, and I asked her a question. Instantly I saw what I refer to as: “The deer in the headlights look.”

The petite little girl, who was courageous enough to agree to come to an appointment that she knew little about, stared at me with a confused look in her eyes.

I listened as her mother told me that she just doesn’t “get school” but went on to explain that every day after school she comes home and “plays school”… I was curious to find out more.

Sara has what is known as an Auditory Processing Disorder (APD).

According to

Children with APD typically have normal hearing. But they struggle to process and make meaning of sounds. This is especially true when there are background noises.Researchers don’t fully understand where things break down between what the ear hears and what the brain processes. But the result is clear: Kids with APD can have trouble making sense of what other people say.

Typically the brain processes sounds seamlessly and almost instantly.

Most people can quickly interpret what they hear. But with APD, some kind of glitch delays or “scrambles” that process.

To a child with APD, “Tell me how the chair and the couch are alike” might sound like “Tell me how a cow and hair are like.”

The medical profession didn’t start seriously studying APD in children until 1977. Three decades later, there’s still confusion about APD.

That confusion continues to make children like Sara fall further behind in school.

Here are some Warning Signs of Auditory Processing Disorder:

Children with APD usually have at least some of the following symptoms:
• Have trouble remembering details of what was read or heard
• Have trouble with reading and spelling, which require the abilityto process and interpret sounds
• Struggle with oral (word) math problems
• Ask speakers to repeat what they’ve said, or saying, “huh?” or “what?”
• Be easily distracted, especially by background noise or loud and sudden noises
• Find it hard to follow spoken directions, especially multi-step instructions
• Find it hard to follow conversations
The symptoms can range from mild-severe and children will exhibit weaknesses in one or more of the following areas:
• Auditory memory: The ability to recall what you’ve heard, either immediately or when you need it later. In a classroom when the teacher gives verbal directions like, “Go to your desk, pull out your math book, and turn to page 13.”
• Auditory sequencing: The ability to understand and recall the order of sounds and words.
• Auditory discrimination: The ability to notice, compare and distinguish between distinct and separate sounds. The words spoken from a teacher can be misunderstood.
• Auditory figure-ground discrimination: The ability to focus on the important sounds in a noisy setting. This makes learning in aclassroom environment challenging.

Recent studies suggest that APD can be a contributing factor to dyslexia.

Furthermore, studies have shown that some children are misdiagnosed with ADHD verses APD due to the similarities in symptoms.

An important reason to find a professional who is knowledgable in APD, Dyslexia, and ADHD, in order to get the right diagnosis.

Fortunately for Sara the correct diagnosis was found, but not before 3 years were lost in a classroom that she did not understand.

I am certain that is why Sara wants to grow up one day and become a teacher. It is also why Sara chose to go home after school each day and create her own classroom.

A class where she could teach children like herself in a way that they could learn.


  1. Megan Earl on July 29, 2016 at 10:59 am

    My husband and I have been thinking about having kids lately and I’ve been doing a ton of research. I want to feel as prepared as I can for any possible situation, you know? I’d never heard of APD before reading this post. It’s baffling to me that people can have fine hearing, but their brains will struggle to make sense of the sounds. Thanks for explaining how that works! What kinds of solutions are there for people who struggle with APD?