Auditory Processing in Children

Written by: Jennifer Fantich, M.A., CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist


Auditory Processing Disorder (also referred to as , Central Auditory Processing Disorder, CAPD) is a disorder affected ones ability to process sounds. Individuals with Audiotry Processing Disorder have a neurological defect in the pathways affecting auditory nerves and the connections made to higher auditory pathways in the brain (

Children with Auditory Processing Disorders have challenges with sound localization, comprehension, academic tasks, distinguishing between words or syllables, recalling information and following directions.


Symptoms may range between mild to severe. If you are questioning an auditory processing problem, consider the following:

  • Is your child easily distracted?
  • Are noisy environments challenging for your child?
  • Does your child’s behavior improve in a quieter setting
  • Does your child have difficulty following directions?
  • Are there any academic or speech-language related challenges for your child?
  • Is your child disorganized?
  • Are conversations difficult to follow/maintain for your child?

Some symptoms of Auditory Processing Disorder are commonly confused with ADHD or even dyslexia ( With ADHD and dyslexia, there is no impairment of the processing of auditory input in the central nervous system. Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability, which means that the language/academic limitations, such as reading and/or spelling, are not present due to any restriction with hearing. Similarly, children diagnosed with ADHD exhibit common symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention in any environment, whereas children with Auditory Processing Disorder typically do not have trouble focusing in quiet(er) environments.


While there is no cure for Auditory Processing Disorder, there are many treatments and treatment approaches that aim to improve everyday communication skills.

  • Environmental modifications: environments can be modified both at school, in the home, or both. Devices and technology are available for sound amplification as well as preferential seating to increase attention and reduce adverse noise [in the classroom]. Visual cues, repetition, providing a note taker (at school) and slowing speech rate are also common strategies which can be practiced to increase attention and focus during academic tasks and in social/ functional situations.
  • Speech Therapy: Depending on the severity of the challenges associated with this type of diagnosis, speech therapy may be advised to help increase attention, awareness and build appropriate strategies for the child. Speech therapy can target weak skills surrounding: sound discrimination/location, increase clarity of sound production, enhance listening and following direction skills and also improve language for appropriate social interactions. Along the lines of improvement in speech therapy, a speech-language pathologist may also be able to highlight compensatory strategies for weak listening skills (advocating for oneself by requesting clarification or for directions to be repeated).