According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Dyslexia “is a brain-based type of learning disability that specifically impairs a person’s ability to read. These individuals typically read at levels significantly lower than expected despite having normal intelligence.”
As for Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), the website Auditory Processing Center describes it as “an abnormality in the processing of sound in the central auditory nervous system. This causes a breakdown in the brain’s ability to accurately and efficiently process sounds and language. This can make it hard to distinguish small sound differences within words, remember what was heard, and keep up with ongoing speech, especially when there is background noise or when more than one person is talking.”
On paper, these two conditions don’t sound particularly similar at all. However, there’s far more to the comparison than what meets the eye.
Despite the similarities, Dyslexia and APD are still markedly distinct. These are some of the many major differences between the two:
Other differences between the two can be understood through what fatigues them (for those with APD it’s listening, whereas for those with Dyslexia it’s reading), the kind of information they may find hard to process (for the former it’s heard, for the latter it’s read) and so on.
Many of Dyslexia’s symptoms may overlap with APD, but if there’s one difference between the two that becomes abundantly clear once one goes through the previous section, it’s that those with APD are simply unable to hear correctly. This results in poor phonological awareness owing to the fact that their central auditory nervous systems can’t even process the sounds correctly due to various neurological reasons.
Why is the distinction important? Because, simply put, the two different conditions present very significant challenges that require different treatments. For children with APD, functioning in a classroom environment is incredibly difficult due to the fact that typical classrooms function through verbal instructions from teachers – for a Dyslexic child, however, the right kind of verbal instructions might actually prove to be quite helpful. Conversely, the latter may find it difficult to perform during a written exam whereas the former, with adequate non-verbal guidance, can find it comparatively easy.
This is why the right kind of diagnosis is so important for the two conditions.
The treatment of APD focuses on three areas:
Typically, basic auditory processing tasks have been found to be quite successful in treating the condition as it increases phonemic awareness. Some successful methods also include treating symptoms related to APD, such as the treatment of phonological disorders.
As discussed in this write-up of ours, Occupational Therapy can prove to be quite helpful for children with Dyslexia. Various kinds of dyslexia interventions exist in order to help children become aware of the relationships between letters and how they sound. In addition, reducing anxiety and stress has been found to have a positive effect on how Dyslexic children write.
According to the Auditory Processing Center website, the usage of the Roger Focus system has proven to be beneficial for both children with Dyslexia and APD, as they help transmit the teacher’s voice directly to earpieces worn by the students in question resulting in improved hearing abilities and phonemic awareness.
In conclusion, it’s highly important for parents to know the differences between the two conditions in order to get the right kinds of treatment for their children.