Unusual disorder can be mistaken as ADHD
The symptoms that differentiate it from attention deficit hyper-activity disorder (ADHD) are subtle, it’s rarely seen, and many doctors may not know much about it or be looking for it at all.
It’s not surprising that some general practitioners, pediatricians, and school health officials can easily misdiagnose central auditory processing disorder, or CAPD. Certainly laypeople, including teachers and parents, can miss CAPD’s subtly unique symptoms, in this era when a child’s chronic misbehavior or even boredom can all too quickly lead to a diagnosis of ADHD. A prescription for a common ADHD drug like Ritalin might then be written for the child with the presupposition that it will correct the disorder: it won’t.
“She didn’t speak at all,” recounts Carrie Pedersen about the first few years of life for her daughter, Nicole. “She would punch herself and pull her hair because she was so frustrated. They didn’t even know if she was capable of learning.”
Nicole was clearly a bright child and perfectly functional in most ways, but something was wrong with her thinking and behavior. “If you told her to get the crayons in her room, she would stop in the hall and look at you and then forget why she was in the hall or where she was going,” says Carrie. “She couldn’t get the information out. It was coming in, but she couldn’t get it out.”
It would be several years before Nicole was diagnosed with a mysterious condition called central auditory processing disorder, or CAPD. “Somebody with CAPD may hear something, but not hear the consonant sounds or words the way you or I do,” says Deborah Llewellyn, speech and language pathologist Children’s Hospital San Diego. “The child is given too much information to process.”