Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory Processing Disorder (adapted from the Learning Disabilities Association of America; Note that not all professional groups recognize this as a disorder separate from other forms of LD such as dyslexia or other language-related problem. See

Signs and Symptoms

  • Has difficulty processing and remembering language-related tasks but may have no trouble interpreting or recalling non-verbal environmental sounds, music, etc.
  • May process thoughts and ideas slowly and have difficulty explaining them
  • Misspells and mispronounces similar-sounding words or omits syllables; confuses similar-sounding words (celery/salary; belt/built; three/free; jab/job; bash/batch)
  • May be confused by figurative language (metaphor, similes) or misunderstand puns and jokes; interprets words too literally
  • Often is distracted by background sounds/noises
  • Finds it difficult to stay focused on or remember a verbal presentation or lecture
  • May misinterpret or have difficulty remembering oral directions; difficulty following directions in a series
  • Has difficulty comprehending complex sentence structure or rapid speech
  • “Ignores” people, especially if engrossed
  • Says “What?” a lot, even when has heard much of what was said


  • Show rather than explain
  • Supplement with more intact senses (use visual cues, signals, handouts, manipulatives)
  • Reduce or space directions, give cues such as “ready?”
  • Reword or help decipher confusing oral and/or written directions
  • Teach abstract vocabulary, word roots, synonyms/antonyms
  • Vary pitch and tone of voice, alter pace, stress key words
  • Ask specific questions as you teach to find out if they do understand
  • Allow them 5-6 seconds to respond (“think time”)
  • Have the student constantly verbalize concepts, vocabulary words, rules, etc.

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