Attend to This: The Relationship between Auditory Processing Disorders and Attention Deficits

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Abstract

Background:

Children clinically diagnosed with auditory processing disorders (APDs) are often described as easily distracted and inattentive, leading some researchers to propose that APDs might be a consequence of underlying attention difficulties or a subtype of attention disorders.

Purpose:

The aim of this study was to investigate the link between AP and attention by determining the relationship between performance on an auditory and visual sustained attention task and performance on a common APD test battery.

Research Design:

This study was a cross-sectional correlation study of school-aged children.

Study Sample:

Participants were a clinical group of 101 children considered by their parents or teachers to have listening difficulties, and a control group of 18 children with no suspected listening difficulties. All children were 7-12 yr old.

Data Collection and Analysis:

All children passed a standard peripheral audiologic assessment and were assessed using a clinical APD test battery and reading accuracy, nonverbal intelligence, and visual and auditory continuous performance tests.

Results:

There were significant correlations within the APD test scores except for masking level difference values, which did not correlate significantly with any other measure. Dichotic Digit and Frequency Pattern scores also correlated significantly with Nonverbal Intelligence and Sustained Auditory and Visual Attention scores. Within the clinical group, there were twice as many children outside normal limits on both the APD test battery and the attention tests as there were children who were outside normal limits on only the APD test battery or only the attention tests. Significant predictors of reading ability were the Frequency Pattern, Gaps In Noise, and Nonverbal Intelligence scores.

Conclusions:

The degree of correlation between the APD and attention measures indicates that although deficits in both AP and sustained attention co-occur in some children (more than would be expected from chance alone), and the two conditions may have similar symptoms, they are separate, largely independent conditions.

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