If you have a child with learning difficulties, you’re probably aware by now that there are a lot of acronyms. ADHD, CAPD, LD—and the list goes on! If you struggle to memorize what they all mean, don’t worry: there are often many similarities between the represented disorders, too.

This might be discouraging to you, or it might help you keep track of the different disorders we typically work with here at Lake Michigan Academy and in other special education schools.

Regardless, we often encounter parents making the transition from traditional to alternative education who have many questions about all of these complicated acronyms—and how their child’s comorbidities tend to present.

Comorbidities and Similarities

If your child has received a singular neurodevelopmental diagnosis, their clinicians are probably missing something. Statistics show that learning disabilities rarely exist alone. Rather, they are clustered, especially with mental health conditions: there is a high comorbidity, for instance, with disorders such as ADHD and anxiety.

However, when it comes to ADD symptoms, they can often resemble symptoms of an entirely different disorder entirely—one that is not neurodevelopmental in nature, but physiological. Sometimes, a child who is bored, restless, or disruptive in the classroom is not displaying ADD symptoms. They are simply processing sound differently.

If you suspect that your child might have difficulty understanding what they hear, they can be screened quite easily for a certain disorder that often appears to look like ADHD on the surface.

How CAPD and ADHD Coexist

The condition we are referring to, of course, is central auditory processing disorder (CAPD), otherwise known as auditory processing disorder (APD). This condition affects between 3-5% of elementary and secondary school students, many of whom also have a true ADHD diagnosis.

Misdiagnosis of ADHD often occurs, though, leading children to be prescribed unnecessary medication under the false presumption that they are dealing with a neurodevelopmental condition rather than a physical disorder.

However, it’s not exactly surprising that this occurs at such a high rate. The symptoms are so strikingly similar that some experts are questioning whether you can have APD without ADHD. For students with dual diagnoses of CAPD and ADHD, it can be difficult to tell which behaviors are caused by which disorder.

It can be valuable to seek out resources that help you better understand what your child is experiencing. This helps cultivate a greater sense of empathy and understanding as you transition your child to a special education school. Or, if you are not yet enrolled, consider booking a tour at Lake Michigan Academy.