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Auditory Processing Disorder

What is Auditory Processing Disorder?


Auditory processing disorder (APD), also known as central auditory processing disorder (CAPD), is a condition that makes it hard for kids to recognize subtle differences between sounds in words. It's a neurological condition that affects the interpretation of what persons are saying, without actually affecting their physical ability to hear. They can also find it difficult to tell where sounds are coming from, including differentiating background noises from the desired noise.


It's important to realize that children with this disorder typically do not have any loss of hearing. The issue is that the brain is not accurately receiving what the ear is receiving, like in a game of pass the message. This problem can cause children to become agitated in loud settings, as they try to decipher what information is important.


What causes it?

The exact causes of APD are still unknown. What is known is that there are no issues with the child's ears taking in the information.  The breakdown comes after the sound waves have passed through the ear canal to the brain.

Research into APD suggests factors such as premature birth or low birth weight, head trauma, chronic ear infections and lead poisoning can increase the chances of a child having an auditory processing disorder.

What is it not?

Auditory Processing Disorder is not hearing loss. Neither is it a learning disorder. It is a condition which affects their understanding and interpretation of the sounds of spoken language. Approximately 2% to 7% of children are actually affected by this Learning Disability.

Signs & Symptoms

Common indicators of APD include.

  • Difficulty processing and remembering spoken language-related tasks.

  • Slow processing of thoughts and ideas, and difficulty explaining.

  • If deeply engaged, typically ignores people speaking to them.

  • Frequent requests for speakers to repeat what was said.

  • Trouble reading and spelling.

  • Misspells and mispronounces syllables.

  • Issues following conversations, especially longer ones.

  • Poor musical ability.

  • Low understanding of figurative language, such as irony.

  • Trouble remembering the deep details of what was read or heard.

With such a prevalence, many experts agree that children can learn to work around the challenges faced when dealing with APD. However, APD can also present lifelong challenges to some who have it. Academics, social skills and communication can be some of the toughest areas for persons with APD to overcome. 


Part of our mission at Spark is to teach new strategies for children who have APD. Incorporating experimentation and visual cues for teaching increases the effectiveness of teaching a child with this disorder. 


If you or someone you know shows many of the symptoms above, then take our Preliminary Diagnosis below.

Contact An Expert


Natasha Gray

Natasha Gray, Founder of Spark Learning, is an Educational Consultant who specializes in Learning Disabilities (LD).

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