Auditory Processing Disorders (APD)

Auditory Processing Disorder: What is it and what is it NOT?

Many children who attend speech therapy have difficulties with processing sounds. Some children we see at our San Francisco practice have Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), often called Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD).

While our services page has a list of some specific areas that children with APD may have trouble with, here is a breakdown of some broader categories of auditory language skills that ASHA identifies as difficulties for children with APD:

  • Sound localization and lateralization
  • Being able to tell where sounds come from (localization) or determining if it was heard in the right of left ear (lateralization)
  • Auditory discrimination
  • Differentiating between phonemes, or speech sounds. For example, “dog” may be heard as “dot”.
  • Auditory pattern recognition
  • Being able to notice differences in sound patterns.
  • Temporal aspects of audition
  • Recognizing the timing of sounds and how each sound connects with another.
  • Auditory performance in competing acoustic signals (including dichotic listening)
  • Being able to listen to and understand one sound signal when another is present in the background. For example, having a conversation when there’s music on.
  • Auditory performance with degraded acoustic signals
  • Recognizing a word or sound even when it’s incomplete and filling in the missing information needed to understand a sound, word, or sentence.

(Categories from

Now that we know what APD is, let’s discuss what it is NOT. The deficits listed above that characterize APD can be easily confused with symptoms of other disorders, such as ADHD or Autism Spectrum Disorder. For example, being easily distracted could be both a symptom of APD and ADHD. Since treatment for APD is very different than treatment for these other disorders, its diagnosis must come from an audiologist.

However, children with APD often see speech therapists to work on language issues resulting from APD. You can learn more about how our therapists work with kids with this type of disorder here ( on our services page. Stay tuned for more blog posts about how parents and teachers can help kiddos who have APD!