The Difference Between Auditory Processing Disorder and ADHD
Lagging behind at school. Not following directions properly. Seeming “out of the loop” in social situations. These can be signs of both
(APD), two very different issues that sometimes can look so similar, they may be mistaken for each other and
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This chart shows some of the similarities and differences between APD and ADHD.
Auditory Processing Disorder
What is it?
A brain-based condition that makes it hard to process what the ear hears, such as recognizing subtle differences in the sounds that make up words.
APD impacts language-related skills, such as receptive and expressive language.
A brain-based condition that makes it hard for kids to pay attention and stay focused. They may also be impulsive, hyperactive, and have trouble with self-control.
Kids with APD may miss social cues because they have to focus so hard on understanding the actual words being said. They may not pick up on sarcasm and nonverbal forms of conversation.
As a result, they may avoid socializing, or want to be alone during gatherings, because keeping up with conversation can be exhausting and stressful.
Kids with ADHD may have trouble following social rules, which can make it hard to make and keep friends.
They may get a lot of negative feedback for acting out or not paying attention. This can result in feeling excluded or like the “bad kid.” As a result, kids with ADHD may struggle with low self-esteem.
Clinical child psychologists: Provide cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help with emotional issues related to APD. Diagnose mental health issues that may co-occur, like anxiety and depression. May also evaluate for learning differences and ADHD, which often co-occur with APD.
Audiologists: Some audiologists can evaluate for APD along with hearing issues.
Speech-language pathologists: Work on sound discrimination (understanding the difference between certain sounds), active listening skills and using appropriate language in social situations.
Pediatricians, developmental-behavioral pediatricians, nurse practitioners, psychiatrists: Diagnose ADHD and may prescribe ADHD medication. Psychiatrists will look for other issues like anxiety.
Clinical child psychologists: Provide behavior therapy to teach kids skills to manage their actions and interactions. Provide CBT to help with emotional issues related to their ADHD. Diagnose ADHD and mental health issues that may co-occur, like anxiety and depression. May also evaluate for learning differences.