Kids and Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)

Kids and Audio Processing Disorder (APD)

Have you ever sung a song lyric at the top of your lungs only to be informed by your friend that you’re singing it wrong? You wouldn’t believe how many people think Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds” starts with “We’re caught in a trout.” Then someone tells you it’s “We’re caught in a trap” and you can’t unhear the correct words no matter how hard you try.

You wonder how you ever thought it said something else.

This phenomenon occurs because hearing involves a lot more than sound waves entering the ear. We hear and understand based on how our brains process and understand sounds. It’s how you distinguish one word from another or know what a train whistle sounds like.

Some children struggle with this. They can hear the sound – there’s nothing wrong there. But the central nervous system (brain) is struggling to process what that sound means. Some kids may find it especially difficult if there’s a lot of background noise because they struggle to separate what’s important from what isn’t.

This condition is called “Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)”  and, according to, an estimated 3% to 4% of people have this. For some, it’s worse than in others. It can impact a whole lot more than a child’s ability to understand song lyrics. Left untreated, it will impact learning, emotional development, and social development. 

I recommend that all the parents be on the lookout for the following signs of APD.

Kids and Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)

If you or your child’s teacher notice any of these, then you should get an APD assessment for your child:

  • Doesn’t sing nursery rhymes and children’s songs when others their age are
  • Gets confused when given directions or seems to ignore your instructions
  • Can’t remember the details
  • Looks like they’re listening, but then they have no idea what you said
  • Often interchanges two words that sound similar
  • Gets frustrated when trying to listen to someone in a noisy environment
  • Can’t follow a conversation
  • Can’t express themselves clearly for their age
  • Asks people to repeat a lot

If your child has “normal” hearing, then any of these could suggest some level of APD. Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is a complex condition that can accompany other challenges like ADHD and learning disorders. Only an audiologist can diagnose APD and develop the personalized treatment plan your child needs.

How to Find Out If Your Child Has APD

The first Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) test establishes your child’s ability to connect what they hear with an action. In a sound-treated room, they’ll play a “game” where they listen to a series of requests to perform simple tasks like pushing buttons. In order for this test to be useful, a child generally needs to be at least 7 years old, but some children as young as 5 can be diagnosed in this way.

Based upon how they perform on that test, I’ll select a series of tests to better understand how your child is processing sound. Once we determine your child’s unique form of Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), I’ll work with you to develop a treatment plan.

There is no one-size cure-all treatment for APD, as each one of the kids I see experiences it in their own way. It’s important that treatment be specific to the child’s particular struggles. These may include environmental modifications, assistive listening devices, adapted teaching strategies, and the learning of specialized skills to compensate for the APD difficulties. APD is a processing disorder, not to be confused with autism, mental retardation, or cognitive delays.

If your child is showing signs of possible APD, please come and see me for an APD assessment.