What Teachers & Parents Need to Know about Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)

When a student is having difficulty learning to read and a hearing test reveals that the hearing is within the normal range, Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) or Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) may be the culprit. APD may interfere with a child’s ability to develop phonemic awareness: discriminating, segmenting, blending and substituting sounds in addition to remembering and comprehension.

Children with APD may exhibit a variety of listening and related complaints. For example, they may have difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments, following directions, and discriminating (or telling the difference between) similar-sounding speech sounds (Bellis 2016).

What Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is not: A problem with hearing

  • the inability to hear sounds or a range of sounds
  • a problem with the ear or parts of the ear, such as the inner, middle or outer ear.

What Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is:  An uncoordinated relationship between the ears and the nervous system’s ability to fully process sounds and language (Shapiro 2016).

  • inability of the brain to decode/encode language
  • inability to discriminate between sounds
  • inability to listen, understand and communicate language


From Special World (Routley 2016):


Several other disorders share these APD symptoms, which is why it is important for the child to be assessed by experts:

  • Autism
  • Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Developmental disorders

APD is a complex disorder to diagnose and a careful and in-depth evaluation of the entire spectrum of issues is necessary. Generally a multi-team approach to treatment is neccessary for diagnosis and treatment; this will involve teachers, psychologists, speech-language pathologists and audiologists (Shapiro 2016).

There are strategies that teachers can use to improve learning outcomes for students who are diagnosed or present  with APD:

Examples :

  • reduce background noise during instruction
  • combine verbal/written instructions with visuals
  • use of assistive technology  or tablet/phone apps for note taking, text to speech and speech to text


  • Catherine Routley (2016). Auditory Processing Disorder.  Special World. http://bit.ly/1SsfRnt
  • Teri James Bellis. (accessed 2016) Understanding Auditory Processing Disorders in Children. American Speech Language Association website.  http://bit.ly/1RvmxMT
  •  Zhanneta Shapiro (2016). How to Recognize Auditory Processing Disorder. American Speech Language Association. http://bit.ly/1P90kSZ


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