ADD and ADHD vs Central Auditory Processing Disorders
As parents, we are all concerned about our child’s well-being. We want to make sure that they have all the advantage of a great education and a healthy life. Part of this is to identify any learning or behavioral issues early on and start remedial activities. Early intervention ultimately provides the best advantage to maximize learning and improve individual skills because of maturation development. This is true to both ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) , ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity), and those with auditory impairments.
The incidence of Central Auditory Processing Disorders in the general population of children is less than 7%, but may be occurring in conjunction with other conditions. A CAPD is diagnosed by history, observation, formal testing, and examination. The symptoms are characterized by difficulty hearing in a variety of environments. The level of attention and activity are typically unremarkable. Children with CAPD appear to have a hearing loss and need hearing aids, but the loss is related to auditory skills, not necessarily the ears. This is not to say that the ears don’t need controlled speech and noise reception with specialized wireless electronics.
For those who encounter children with ADD or ADHD it is important that hearing related difficulties are evaluated as part of the process, because auditory processing may actually be a partner in the overall problem. Modern discussions suggest that ADHD and Auditory Processing Disorders are from the same underlying global issue and not separate, while others clearly point to individual differences. Regardless of the debate, there are some notable and observable differences between the two categories and treatment designs.
An APD can be a result of head trauma, aging, a variety of diseases, or because of sound deprivation from multiple ear infections as an infant and toddler. Unlike ADHD, the APD is more centralized to problems associated with hearing tasks. Most cases do not require comprehensive medical evaluation as there is no known medication or medical treatment that has proven to reverse an APD. However, in some cases of known disease, an evaluation of the brain is required and the assistance of a neurologist and ear, nose, and throat physician are recommended. Speech and language therapy and the use of specialized electronic equipment that increase speech reception and decrease noise with wireless FM systems have shown to greatly improve learning in the classroom.
It is known from research that some of the actions and behaviors appear to be similar, but in fact they are very different. A well-trained Audiologist knows the differences and can be very helpful in directing therapy and helping others to understand why controlling the sound environment and reception is critical. Because the outward observations from either condition appear at times similar, Auditory Processing Disorders needs to be ruled out in children that appear to be ADD or ADHD to reduce the overall effects that prevent learning.
Characteristics of ADD/ADHD
Chronically distracted, inattentive, hyperactive, fidgety or restless, hasty or impulsive, interrupts or intrudes.
Characteristic of Auditory Processing Disorders
Difficulty hearing in background noise, difficulty following oral instructions or conversations, and poor listening habits such as turning away. Learning problems, especially in reading and writing, poor auditory skills such as telling the direction of sound or musicality, and appearing inattentive.