Psychological Services

ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and Auditory Processing

Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) is a term that has been used to reference the ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) difficulties of “not listening”. However, auditory processing is just one processing problem that plagues the ADD individual. There can be visual processing problems as well. Information processing deficits are a common symptom of the genetic developmental ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and a primary symptom seen throughout the lifespan which creates significant communication difficulties between husband and wife, parent and child, teacher and child, employer and employee. Information processing deficits can be a significant causal factor in the demise of peer relationships, marriages, and work relationships as each party “stands their ground” and maintains that “they mentioned or did not mention” appointment times, where to meet and so on.

In the brain, information does not always get through the information processing center and drops out. The ADD individual learns over time that they are missing small bits of information and compensate using logical reasoning skills. This is the person who does not read directions all the way through and uses a “hands on” approach to figure things out. We describe them as being “good with their hands” and logical in their approach to life. Information processing deficits are seen as the reason why ADD individuals tend to be rather dogmatic, insistent that they are “right” having used logically reasoning to arrive at their position unaware that they may be missing relevant information. There is no way to ascertain what particular piece of relevant information is missing, thus the “stand-off” and need to “agree to disagree” in ADD arguments.

In our testing for ADD at United Psychological Services, we evaluate information processing deficits using two different types of tests. There are specific issues seen on testing over time that provides confirmation of this problem and just how serious it is.

Information processing deficits are not confined to auditory information as visual information can be similarly missed. A person with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) may not process visual information missing the subtle social cues. The following are typically seen social mistakes:

  • A comment made at the wrong time and lack of understanding of the impact
  • Lack of awareness of the result of culminating social variables occurring in a particular situation.
  • Not “getting” the punch line of a joke.
  • Missing the social nuances in conversation

The Overlap:

The overlap between these CAPD and ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) suggests a range of co-morbidity from 45% to 75%. A question remains as to whether CAPD produces ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) ADHD symptoms or vice versa.

In our experience, a diagnosis of CAPD is difficult to pinpoint, given the problem of differentiating a specific syndrome that involves auditory processing only. However, it is well known that the processing of all sensory information takes place within an association cortex area of the brain located in the parietal area. The information processing deficits historically seen within the ADD/ADHD population is the result of processing problems for all types of sensory information.

Closing thoughts on ADD and Auditory Processing:

Information processing deficits have been measured over time as a primary problem for individuals diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). ADD individuals tend to be more visual learners probably due to their struggle with reading and the benefit of using two modalities to learn. An auditory processing problem only addresses the auditory modality and does not address the visual processing problem seen in the ADD population. In this manner the diagnosis of CAPD may preclude accurate treatment for ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). Processing problems are improved with the use of medication as seen on pre and post-testing using neuropsychological evaluation. The cognitive training that we are doing to address basic attention symptoms produces an improved response similar to that of medication on pre and post-testing for information processing deficits. We have seen this treatment hold through time and still provide post treatment effects upon information processing deficits long after this training program was completed.