Auditory Processing Disorder APD, Another Acronym Explained

by Bobbie Drakeford


APD, affects about 5% of the population and is another acronym that may appear on a Special Considerations and Reasonable Adjustment form. This disorder is an inability to process the spoken word if:


  • There is background noise in, or from outside the studio.
  • Someone is shouting out instruction.
  • Music being played at the same time as instruction is being given.
  • If the instructor is not speaking loudly enough, clearly enough, giving instruction when not looking at the student, or moving about as the instruction is delivered.


APD affects learning skills in as much as the student has difficulty responding to or retaining oral instruction, this being further emphasized as soon as music is played, especially if instruction is being given at the same time as the music is being played. Students will either forget what the instruction was, become out of time with the music and may inwardly panic and not be able to respond at all. In a class situation, many students will switch off and daydream, because they are not able to process the instruction, or the music is getting in the way of the processing. Some rooms will have a slight echo; this is also a problem for a student with APD.

In an examination situation the examiner can help by:


  • Making sure they have the attention of the candidate before speaking.
  • Speak a little more slowly than normal and very clearly.
  • Make sure that the point being spoken about is highlighted, by tone not volume (shouting)
  • If necessary repeat the instruction or rephrase it.


Students with APD can usually hear quite normally. They can hear sounds that are delivered singly, but the problem occurs when there are multiples of sound, changes in pitch in the voice, or words that sound the same are used.  In some cases the person with the problem has difficulty sounding out the words themselves.


Further information regarding APD can be found on: