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Auditory Processing Disorder: Understanding the Subtypes

Auditory Processing Disorder: Understanding the Subtypes

Getting my son to read has been, at times, painful, and I didn't understand why.

For me, reading is what I do to escape. Nothing compares to sitting down and getting lost in an epic plot and to becoming engrossed in a character story.  But for my son, it was the complete opposite. I think he would have preferred to get a root canal than having to read on his own, and I needed to know why.

After the APD diagnosis, I dove in head first to learn as much as I could about this learning disability. And although I knew APD is the umbrella term for his learning difficulty, I needed to find out the subtype or the area in which the signals getting lost in his brain. Only then, was I going to be able to help my son overcome his disdain for books.

In my research mission, I learned APD has four subtypes:

Tolerance/Fading memory

  • tends to ignore people when completely engrossed in a task
  • is less attentive in noisy surroundings
  • has a hard time following multi-step directions


  • has difficulty with phonics
  • articulation problems
  • often confuses similar sounding words
  • poor speller


  • often needs clarification before starting tasks
  • difficulty reading and/or writing despite having strong phonics knowledge
  • easily confused due to interpreting words too literally
  • poor communicator - often fails to explain things in detail


  • can retell details and facts, but often misses the big picture
  • is unable to detect the tone in someone’s voice, often mistakes speaker’s mood

Once I understood the underlying reason behind his learning glitch, which in his case, his auditory processing presents itself in a way that affects his reading comprehension and writing. I knew he fell under the subtype of Integration with some hint of Prosodic.

And according to the specialized audiologist, providing him with as many learning experiences as possible would help his brain’s plasticity or ability to change and adapt as a result of the gained knowledge.

So based on what I knew about my son's learning ability, I finally understood why he didn't enjoy reading and decided to focus on his strengths.

  • I provided him with as much information as I could to make him comfortable reading and writing.

  • To make reading enjoyable, we have cozy reading nook that we go to spend time together and read our favorite books.
  • I obtained audio versions of his favorite books so he can read along to have him picture the story in his head.
  • In order to get him to be more creative and confident in himself, I encourage him to take risks by leading by example.

It is crucial to understand, there are no one-sized fits all method as this learning disability as it does not present itself in the same way in every child. But I do believe there are things we can do and learn to understand better and help our kids.

The bottom line is this; some kids just don’t process information like they are expected to. It doesn’t mean they aren’t smart or can’t learn the material presented to them. It just means their brains take in information in a different way.

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