Children's Hearing

Auditory Processing Disorder

APD is generally used as an umbrella term for several different but generally co-existing disorders.


These features are sometimes called co-morbid and are inclusive of what is sometimes referred as a Communication Disorder or Communication struggle.

How a person processes their information is intrinsically part of who they are and how they function. This makes clinical diagnosis difficult especially in young children or those with more complex needs. There are currently no “Gold Standard” diagnostic tests available for the identification of APD. The national guidelines recommend a holistic approach, centred on the management of such difficulties.

Most children with APD are reported to be easily distracted, particularly by visual input and background noise. A moderate level of background noise makes it difficult for most people to hear speech or instruction clearly, the distraction of our thought processes when in peripheral noise to some can make it impossible to give good attention to the appropriate source. Giving important information in a calm, quiet setting while using face to face contact can make it very much easier for a child to retain the facts. Rephrasing (rather than repeating) and using a slightly slower pace of speech can also be very useful techniques.

The APD Checklist below can be helpful in the appraisal of your child for further discussion with their teacher. Most schools also have a SENCo teacher (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) who specialises in learning or communication struggles.

Tick the following which you think apply. The greater the number of ticks will indicate the greater concern for discussion to take place.

  • short attention span
  • easily distracted
  • restless or bored in classrooms and group discussions
  • difficulty following instructions
  • experienced a delay or problem in language development
  • says “pardon” or “what” frequently
  • often misunderstands what is said
  • has difficulty listening in the presence of background noise
  • has poor auditory memory
  • gives a slow response in conversation
  • has problems with phonics
  • exhibits behaviour problems
  • word reading better than reading comprehension
  • uses non specific language ‘that’ ‘thingy’ ‘you know’
  • sensitivity to loud sounds
  • uses words wrongly. ‘I scored a Patrick’ rather than ‘I scored a hat trick’
  • Tires easily

It will be useful to discuss the areas you are concerned with, with your school and/or your GP. A referral to Chime SE Audiology Services would need to come from your GP.