APD is not a problem of the ear. Hearing tests are generally normal and do not help with a diagnosis. An audiologist specifically trained in APD can use other tests to make the diagnosis.
APD can look like many other disorders and is often confused with attentional problems, hearing problems, autism or developmental disorders, unspecified learning disabilities or even behavior problems.
The first sign that there may be a problem is around age 18 months when a child shows delayed or gibberish type of speech. Articulation errors, such as saying "boggy" for "doggy" may occur. The child may have difficulty rhyming words. The child may respond as though he can hear better when spoken to slowly.
In the preschool years, lack of attentiveness, inability to concentrate, difficulty following directions, distractibility and frequently asking "huh?" or "what" may be red flags. You can see how easily these signs can be viewed as attention deficit disorder.
Children with APD may also be very sensitive to sounds and not able to tolerate noise such as movie theaters. They may become agitated or start to scream or cry if subjected to loud or chaotic noise. They may act as though they cannot hear in noisy backgrounds.
They are probably terrible spellers and have very poor reading comprehension.
There are some exciting cutting-edge treatments available for APD, but most people have never heard of them. For more information, check out these websites:
www.ncapd.org (National Coalition for APD, Inc)
www.asha.org (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association)
www.earobics.com (Cognitive Concepts - computer software used for treatment)
www.lblp.com (Lindamood-Bell Learning Programs - another treatment)
Also see my book review of a mother's personal story of her son's APD. Go to book reviews on this website and scroll to Auditory Processing Disorder to read about "Like Sound Through Water" by Karen Foli.
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