Hearing But Not Understanding

Could Auditory Processing Disorder be to blame for your child's ADHD-ish symptoms?
Treating ADHD Blog | posted by Bill Mehlman

When I went to Mt. Sinai Hospital a few years ago to see if they could find any evidence that I had ADHD, the first thing they did, after the intake interview, was to give me an extensive hearing test. Makes total sense, actually. How can you expect someone to "pay attention" when she doesn't receive all the aural data that's sent her way, or, worse, isn't even aware that she's being spoken to. The hearing test is quick, painless, unintrusive and, unless presumably, unambiguous. Considering the protean nature of ADHD, it certain makes sense to rule out any purely physical deficits that might contribute to impaired attention.

Then there's a less familiar syndrome, APD — Auditory Processing Disorder. This isn't hearing loss, in the sense that a deaf person has hearing loss. A child with APD (also known as CAPD) can hear what's being said, but to one degree or another doesn't understand what's being said. In other words, this is neither deafness nor illiteracy nor a function of intelligence. Sadly, as with so many of the learning/behavioral dysfunctions, the causes and modalities are largely unclear. It may be — may have some connection to equally chimerical syndromes such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorder and autism.

APD mimics some of the symptoms of ADHD. If your child is being treated for attention deficit, and doesn't seem to be making what you consider acceptable progress, by all means extend your search for answers to having him examined for APD. This is an extremely informative site which presents numerous treatment options.

The next time your frustration level hits the danger level, and you feel that you're about to say, perhaps not in a kindly voice, "Did you hear what I just said?" you might take a deep breath. Consider that even if the answer you get is "yes" it might, in a very real sense, be "no."

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