Auditory Processing, Music and ADHD

My youngest son, the son with Hyperactive Impulsive ADHD recently started the Fast ForWord program. This is a computer program designed to help Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). No one knows for sure how many children that are diagnosed with ADHD also have auditory issues but one report that I saw put the rate at 30 percent. The Fast ForWord program has an incredibly good reputation for helping people with APD. It is not cheap but nothing related to ADHD treatment is cheap.

The symptoms of APD, once you know them, are hard to miss but it is easy to ascribe them all to the attention problem. The audiologist, that my son is seeing, reports that she often treats high school students whose APD has gone undiagnosed for years. Some of the symptoms that the person might have include being easily distracted and annoyed by certain sounds, the person may frequently ask you to repeat what you have said. The person will only catch a fraction of the directions given to them, the person will have trouble coming up with the word that they are trying to say, the person may have speech delays or speech difficulties and the person may be totally confused by complex sentences that involve a temporal relationship such as “Before you eat, make your bed, then after you eat, pick up your books.”

My son has been doing the program for about a month and he seems to be much more even tempered than he usually is and he seems somewhat less at a loss for words. He still is asking me sometimes to repeat things but he seems less frustrated by it all. The auditory processing brain center is linked to the problematic ADHD centers in the brain. Visual processing and ADHD have common genetics and auditory processing and ADHD do too. Interestingly, it appears that impulsive behavior, in particular, is tied to the DRD2 gene which is one of the several ADHD genes that can be influenced by music.

Studies on the DRD2 gene and music have found that listening to music improves functional and effective connectivity between brain regions mediating reward, autonomic and cognitive processing. Other studies on music suggest that several biochemical mediators, such as endorphins, dopamine and nitric oxide, may play a role in the musical experience and that this provides insight into understanding why listening to music is one of the most rewarding and pleasurable human experiences. Music therapy and ADHD seem a great match given these studies.  I believe that several researchers are looking into this novel approach to helping ADHD.

My youngest son recently turned nine. He got an IPod Touch for his birthday and also got about $40.00 worth of Apple store gift cards. He has loaded his ITouch with music that he loves. His taste in music is what you might expect. Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Alvin and the Chipmunks… Lately when he gets mad, he goes into his room and puts on his headphones and listens to music. He comes out of his room, about 15 minutes later, a much happier and calmer boy. It may be the Fast ForWord program, it may be the ITouch music, and it may be both. It does not really matter to me. He seems more at peace with himself and that is all that matters.

“Medical Hypotheses”; Do dopaminergic gene polymorphisms affect mesolimbic reward activation of music listening response? Therapeutic impact on Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS); Blum K, Chen TJ, Chen AL, Madigan M, Downs BW, Waite RL, Braverman ER, Kerner M, Bowirrat A, Giordano J, Henshaw H, Gold MS.; 2010 March


  1. Our adult daughter took Dyslexia Correction with Cathy Smith and has gone from dependent to self-sustaining, from angry and sloppy, to happy, goal-oriented, and only a little messy. It has changed her life, and consequently, ours.

  2. Thanks for your comments!! I am going to look into that program. Tess

  3. Hi, is not being able to recall lyrics, or even pay attention to them, a sign of Inattentive ADHD?

    I have always struggled with this, along with having problems with hearing in loud public places, forgetting conversations etc.

    Can stimulants help with this?

  4. The loud noises maybe but the lyrics, I am not sure about. I do not think that stimulants would help either of those problems though.


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