Children with auditory processing disorders and ADHD share many symptoms. Both conditions can cause children to be poor listeners and have difficulty understanding or remembering spoken information. Kids with auditory processing issues do not have trouble hearing, rather they have difficulty interpreting sound. When these children, for example, hear a command or instruction they may not correctly understand the message and appear to be inattentive and unable to follow directions. This is very similar to the behavior of children with ADHD.
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Heather Wittenberg, PhD, Psychology, answeredWe are only just starting to understand exactly what is meant by Auditory Processing Disorder, and many clinicians haven't been trained to diagnose the condition. It should be diagnosed by an experienced clinician, with the help of an audiologist.
In addition, ADD and ADHD are notoriously difficult to diagnose: Show me a bunch of kids with distractability, inattentiveness, and hyperactivity -- and each one of their diagnoses might actually be different. These symptoms could mean depression, trauma, anxiety, a sensory processing problem, ADHD -- or they may just be having an "off" day.
I have seen far too many children inappropriately labeled as ADHD by well-meaning (but unqualified) individuals in the school system. It's easy to recognize a hyperactive kid. It's much more difficult to determine the underlying diagnosis. But it is crucial to do so, because treatment will vary considerably, depending on the specific diagnosis.
All of this means that a thorough evaluation by an experienced, well-regarded, licensed mental health professional needs to be completed before a diagnosis such as ADHD -- or a Sensory Processing Disorder -- is assumed. Make sure your clinician works with an audiologist, and hang in there until all of your questions about your child's difficulties are answered. This puts you in the best position to help create a plan with the specialists to maximize your child's learning, psychological, and social progress.