Document Type

Capstone Project

Publication Date


First Advisor

Benjamin Kirby, Ph.D.


auditory processing disorder, differential diagnosis, children, specific language impairment, dyslexia, autism spectrum disorder, cognition, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder


Speech and Hearing Science | Speech Pathology and Audiology


Although there is no consensus on the definition of auditory processing disorder (APD), it is typically characterized by listening difficulties resulting from deficits in auditory perceptual processing of sounds in the central auditory nervous system. APD often co-occurs with other disabilities such as ADHD, dyslexia, and specific language impairment. Presenting symptoms can be very similar to these other disorder, complicating diagnosis. Due to the overlap of symptoms between APD and various other deficits, there are concerns that professionals in different fields are providing children with different labels for the same group of symptoms. Therefore, the aim of this literature review is to discuss the challenges in identifying APD and distinguishing it from other developmental disorders, especially in children. As part of the recommended clinical protocol in audiology, several test batteries are commonly used to diagnose APD through a combination of clinical observation, behavioral assessments with and without speech stimuli, electrophysiological assessments of brain activity in response to sound stimulation, and speech-language assessments. Although there is evidence supporting comorbidity between APD and other disorders, current test batteries alone do not have the specificity to distinguish APD from some other types of developmental delay. There is a need for the development of improved assessment techniques that are both sensitive to the presence of APD and at the same time do not result in false positive diagnoses of APD in children with other disorders. In the meantime, a multidisciplinary approach is emphasized for the assessment and intervention of APD in an attempt to reduce the risk of erroneous diagnosis of APD in children with other developmental disabilities.