Differentiating APD from ADHD and Other Disorders

How is APD differentiated from Learning Disabilities, Language Disorders, and ADHD?

differentiating APD from other disordersAuditory Processing Disorder (APD) is an auditory deficit in the higher auditory pathways in the central nervous system that is not the result of other higher order cognitive, language, or related disorders. Because many symptoms of Auditory Processing Disorder overlap with other disorders, it is possible that your child was previously misdiagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), PDD (Pervasive Developmental Delay), or a receptive language disorder. Or, your child may have one of these disorders or delays in addition to APD. All of these disorders share common characteristics and are often interrelated. For example, individuals with ADHD may be poor listeners and have trouble understanding and remembering spoken information, but it is the attention deficit that is impeding their ability to use the auditory information coming in, not the processing of it in the brain.

Auditory Processing Disorder and ADHD are two distinct clinical conditions with different diagnostic criteria.  However, studies suggest that 50% of children diagnosed with ADHD may also have APD.  Children with ADHD tend to exhibit inattention, distractibility, and hyperactivity in any environment, whereas children with Auditory Processing Disorder usually don’t have difficulty focusing and paying attention in quiet environments.  Children with ADHD also usually exhibit no clear pattern on auditory processing tests and inconsistencies in APD test performance, such as ear advantage (ear strength) changes on different dichotic tests (requiring the ears to compete against each other).  Although there is some overlap in symptoms, individuals with Auditory Processing Disorder present primarily with complaints of poor listening skills and frequent requests for clarification, while individuals with ADHD present primarily with complaints of inattentiveness and/or hyperactivity.  Remote microphone / FM systems can be very helpful for both children with ADHD and/or Auditory Processing Disorder by reducing the amount of competing background noise.

Many people feel that ADHD is too quickly diagnosed for children who are difficult to handle in the classroom and that children often end up on unnecessary medication.  Auditory Processing Center offers Auditory Vigilance Testing to help distinguish ADHD from APD.

Comparison of Behaviors Demonstrated with ADHD vs. APD by Frequency of Occurrence

ADHD-APD comparison chart

Auditory Processing Disorder can be differentiated from other disorders when consistent deficits occur primarily on challenging tasks involving the sense of hearing.

  • Up to 43% of Children with Learning Difficulties Have Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)
  • 25% of Children with Learning Difficulties Have APD and Dyslexia
  • Auditory Processing Center, LLC
    541 Highway 80 West
    Suite C
    Clinton, MS 39056
    Phone: (601) 488-4189
    Fax: (601) 488-4888