Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory Processing Disorder, or APD, is when someone has trouble focusing on, making sense of, and remembering acoustic information.  Put simply, normal auditory processing is “what we do with what we hear”.

The symptoms of APD can be different for each person. The most common complaints include difficulty listening in noisy places, trouble following directions, and trouble telling the differences between words. Most parents report their children seem to “mishear” information or just do not pay attention. Some of these children seem like they might have a hearing loss, as they may ask for clarification or repetition.

APD can only be diagnosed by an audiologist who specializes in the testing of APD. It is important to emphasize that APD is an auditory problem that is not the result of any other cognitive, language, or related disorders (such as hearing loss, autism or ADHD). APD can be hard to diagnose as the symptoms are similar to other problems listed previously. Therefore, at ECU-SLHC it is recommended children have a psychoeducational evaluation completed prior to scheduling the first APD session. This ensures no other diagnosis exists and normal cognition and brain function. A speech and language evaluation may also be suggested by the audiologist to rule out other disorders. The speech-language pathologists and audiologists work closely as a team to assess each individual.

What to expect:

The APD testing at our clinic is done in multiple sessions. To diagnose APD, the audiologist will first establish a full case history and assess hearing of the outer, middle and inner ears to confirm normal hearing. The audiologist will also complete speech testing in quiet and noise. After this, the audiologist will take the results from the extensive testing and make the decision whether another APD session is necessary for your child. If so, the audiologist will administer testing that requires careful listening and attention to assess a wide range of listening abilities.


  • Who can be tested for APD?
    To be considered for an APD evaluation, your child must also be at least 7 years of age or older and speak English as their first language.
  • Who can diagnose APD?
    Only an audiologist can diagnose APD. Other medical professionals can screen for APD, but only an audiologist can diagnose it.
  • What should I do before my APD appointment?
    Make sure your child has had a good night of sleep, has eaten that day, and has taken any daily medications. If you have been sent any forms or questionnaires, be sure to fill them out. Please arrive 15 minutes early to allow for completion of any further paperwork.
  • How is APD treated?
    There is no cure for APD, but we can use some tools to help your child learn how to manage their APD. An educational audiologist can help find out what is best for your child in school.