Attention Deficit Disorder Verses Auditory Processing Disorder – A Big Difference

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“My child is taking medicine for ADD, but I really don’t see any difference in him.” “Since beginning medicine for ADHD, my daughter has become very moody and still has problems with her attention span and focusing on what she needs to do.” These are but a few of the comments that can be heard from a parent whose child has been misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) rather then with the appropriate diagnosis of Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). Explore More

Although symptoms for both ADD and APD can mirror each other, the causation and treatment are generally much different. Behaviors or symptoms that can be found in either ADD or APD, but not limited to, are as follows: poor attention span, easily distracted, difficulty in following directions, disorganized and forgetful, poor listening skills, poor academic performance, behavior problems, and problems losing things. It should be noted that in some situations, both disorders do coexist and treatment needs will also need to coexist.

It is believed that attention disorder, or ADD is genetic and biological in causation. In this disorder, the brain of the affected person does not secrete the proper amounts of a neurotransmitter known as Dopamine. Other causations relate to the brain’s inability to effectively use the Dopamine that the brain has secreted. The most commonly prescribed treatment for ADD is the use of a stimulate drug designed to generate more production of Dopamine, still others benefit from drugs which boost the effectiveness of the natural production of Dopamine. Thus, it is most widely agreed that ADD relates to chemical imbalances or chemical deficits in the brain.

On the other hand, APD occurs when the information that one hears is not processed and coordinated correctly in the brain. Several known causes for APD are lead poisoning, traumatic brain injury, or frequent ear infections during the first two years of a child’s life. People with APD most often demonstrate no problems with hearing spoken language or sounds that comprise language. In other words, if tested by an Audiologist, their middle ears detect auditory signals without problem. However it is in the transferring of information to the appropriately targeted areas of the brain that holds the problem in this disorder. In APD, the person hears what is presented to them, they just lack the ability to understand the meaning of what is said to them.

APD is a problem that most often extends itself into functional tasks such as reading, writing, and spelling. Many noted scientists correlate APD as a significant cause of dyslexia. Treatment recommendations for these disorders may be very different; correct diagnosis is imperative for the outcomes and benefits for individuals suffering from ADD or APD. ADD children and APD children may look very similar, but their root cause and thus treatment needs are much different. While attention disorder is primarily treated through medication, processing disorders can be treated through scientifically developed programs and therapist techniques designed to enhance the way the brain transfers information and makes the necessary correlations between signal and meaning. Before beginning treatment for ADD, an evaluation by a Speech/Language Pathologist or Audiologist who is experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of APD may be valid and beneficial.

In summary, caution should be made in the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder without the evaluation of a possible Auditory Processing Disorder. A team approach to the diagnosis process can be greatly beneficial to treatment outcomes. The causation and treatment of ADD and APD vary significantly, therefore the determination of both areas of functioning should be considered before beginning treatment. There is hope for both ADD children and APD children. With correct diagnosis, persons dealing with the affects of these two disorders can achieve more productively and effectively in their pursuit of personal life goals and ambitions.

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