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Auditory Processing Disorder and How It is Different From ADHD

My son and I have CAPD. I beleive my father does as well, though he also has a physical hearing loss and has a cochlear implant. And, I recall that my younger brother also has signs of CAPD as a child.


While CAPD is different to ADHD. It can seem very simular in action. So the CAPD is often missed. Especially since it can vary in its degree of dibilitating effects on the person with it.

My son has it far worse than I do. He has to watch movies 3 or 4 times to get all of the dialogue. He misses so much auditory due to his brain slowly or poorly processing the sounds it receives fom the ear he often cannot think on his feet to talk if another person is speaking because  how he processes how his brain hears his and others voices at the same time as speaking, it makes him stammer, and then get over frustrated in his inability to express himself well and he starts to cry.

To complicate matters worse. CAPD and ADHD can occour together.

Auditory processing disorder, also called central auditory processing disorder, is characterized by an inability to process, interpret, and retain what a person hears.
People with auditory processing disorder may struggle to understand speech in noisy environments, mix up similar speech sounds, fail to follow verbal directions, and misunderstand verbal instruction, which leads to difficulty in task completion both at home work and at school.

The National Center for Learning Disabilities lists four types of auditory skills needed for a person to properly process what they hear:

1. Auditory discrimination: the ability to notice, compare, and distinguish the distinct and separate sounds in words. If a person has difficulty with auditory discrimination, they may confuse similar words like seventy and seventeen, have trouble learning to read, and be unable to follow directions even when they appear to be paying attention.

2. Auditory figure-ground discrimination is the ability to pick out important sounds from a noisy background. A person who struggles with auditory figure-ground discrimination may be unable to filter background conversations and noises to focus on what is important. This is a large issue for me personally. And, a child at school for example, may miss lessons in class if he or she can not filter extraneous background noise in the classroom. That noise could be as little as a child.behind him tapping his pencil on the desk.

3. Auditory Memory is the ability to recall what is heard after a period of time and includes both short-term and long-term memory. Difficulties associated with auditory memory may include remembering people’s names, memorizing telephone numbers, following multi-step directions, and recalling stories or songs.

I personally cannot recall a movie a week after we've seen it. And when I meet new people I immediately write down their name and some notes on them because I cannot recall their name as soon as we stop talking. It can seriously hinder social interactions and cause embarassing situations when we meet again.

4. Auditory sequencing is the ability to understand and recall the order of words. Difficulties with auditory sequencing may include confusing numbers like 93 for 39 and confusing lists and sequences. For example, a person with  auditory sequencing problems may not be able to complete a series of tasks in the right order. He or she may fail to be able to do so even when appearing to have heard and understood the directions. Between this and my ADHD inattentive attention span, it is often very difficult to get anything done in a day. Thankfully. Lists, alarms and my patient husband work to keep me on track.

At first glance, a child with symptoms of auditory processing disorder may be thought to have ADHD since he or she may appear to be inattentive. It can often be missed the younger a child is diagnoased.

We learn to read lips and guess on the spot with scarey accuracy at a young age, so our CAPD is missed and we just seem to be " not listening"and being defiant...in  addition, the outward frustration exhibited by a child with auditory processing disorder may be mistaken for impulsive or oppositional behavior.

As a person with CAPD and as a parent of a child with CAPD,  I  strongly encourage parents to closely observe their child’s struggles and difficulties in various settings to ensure he or she receives proper diagnoasis and support

One of the tell tale signs of CAPD I have seen happen first hand is physical pain when noises are sudden or too loud.

My son cannot understand what you are saying if you yell in fruatration at him. It sounds like charlie brown's teacher to him and he covers his ears. Or...when he looks at me with a blank face and cannot answer my question. I know he has no processed what he heard and we ask him. And repeat as necessary.  We have a lot of "tell me what you heard me say" conversation feedback sessions.

When we go to a movie theater he wears wax earplugs for the loud scenes as the pitch of the sound overwhelms him and it physically hurts his ears.

Learning to advocate for your CAPD can help a lot to lower frustration. Knowing myselfnwhat it is like to have these issues. Helps me teach my son coping techniques.

My husband sends me text messages with lists of things he asked for and he no longer talks with his back to me or his mouth covered.  I read lips a lot. Especially in loud places like stores or crowded events. These are coping skills I have learned to adopt in the last 8 years of knowing I have CAPD.

Using the closed captioning helps me with accents in movies.

And, the one thing that has helped me greatly....When I am in a situation where I need things repeated. I point to my right ear and say " I'm sorry, I have a hearing disability and there is too much noise. Could you say that again please." Or I will tell people that I read lips. To please say it again. They are usually happy to do so, and they will speak a little clearer.

It took me a few years to get over the internal embarassment of admitting I misheard or admitting to a hearing disability. But it has helped so much. Especially after I knew what CAPD was and was able to own it and not feel like I was lying to say I could not hear in a situation where a non CAPD person would have no issue.

Do you think you have CAPD? Does your child or spouse? Feel free to leave questions or share your experience in the comments below, or hit me up on my Twitter @superaddmom

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