About Central Auditory Processing Disorder…

Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) is a condition where sounds such as speech, are heard by the ears, but are not processed properly by the auditory pathway and auditory cortex of the brain.  There are several variations of CAPD, so not all cases include the same symptoms. Some clues that a form of CAPD may be present include:

  • Difficulty understanding and following directions, even though they can be heard
  • Difficulty remembering what was said
  • Difficulty understanding or easily distracted in noisy environments
  • Has poor language skills (reading, spelling, or speech skills)
  • Poor ability to concentrate; easily distracted
  • Frequent errors in understanding the emotional nuances of speech
  • Can become anxious when required to listen
  • Can have poor social relationships or low self-esteem
  • Scores on verbal skills are very different than other skills tested on IQ or learning assessments

There can be many contributing factors such as:

  • A history of chronic ear infections in early childhood
  • A family history of similar struggles
  • A head injury such as a concussion
  • Complications during pregnancy or birth (lack of oxygen, prematurity, low birth weight)
  • Many other factors, which we cannot always identify

This video clip tells the story of Little Red Riding Hood as it may be heard by a person with CAPD:

What to Do…

If your child exhibits some of the above characteristics, or you are concerned that a Central Auditory Processing Disorder may be present, having a full assessment can identify any problems that exist and give you tools for addressing them.  However, a child that demonstrates some of these characteristics does not necessarily have a CAPD, as there are other issues that can result in similar difficulties.  Many of the skills listed above rely on more than just good listening skills, so this is only one of several possible factors.  A CAPD may exist alone, or in combination with other factors, or the issues your child is experiencing may not be due to a CAPD.  An assessment for CAPD is becoming a more common component of overall assessments for children experiencing learning or social challenges.

What to Expect at a CAPD Assessment…

A CAPD assessment includes a full hearing assessment and also gives our hearing professionals much more information about the specific areas of auditory processing where you or your child experience difficulty.  This exam takes about an hour and includes:

  • A review of your general and hearing health history, and your specific concerns
  • A visual inspection of your ear canals and ear drums
  • A full hearing assessment
  • Tests to determine which aspects of auditory processing are hard for you.  You will be given words, phrases, numbers, or beeps to listen to in one or both ears, sometimes with other noises present, and asked to repeat or identify what you hear.  These tests intentionally stress your listening system to give us information on where you have difficulties with processing sound.

To determine the most suitable solutions for your CAPD, a CAPD assessment is essential.  The goals of the assessment are to give us information regarding:

  • The type and degree of any hearing loss that may be present
  • Whether medical intervention is warranted
  • What specific processing skills are difficult for you or your child
  • The most suitable treatment options to help overcome or manage your specific CAPD

Following the assessment, your results will be reviewed with you, along with our recommendations for treatment.  You are welcome to ask questions any time during this process. Since most cases involve children and teens, we ask that a parent be present.

Solutions available to address CAPD…

Following your assessment, solutions to address you or your child’s CAPD will be discussed with you.  These may include one or more of the following:

  • Educational information to help you understand CAPD
  • Treatment usually includes attention to three specific aspects of your experience with CAPD.  
    • First we tailor a specific therapy program for you to address your processing deficits.  This takes advantage of the brain’s plasticity and ability to re-wire in response to a consistent therapy training protocol.  Most patients will be able to work with the CAPD Online Therapy System in their homes, with regular monitoring by our Audiologist.
    • Second, we look at modifications that may need to be made in your environment to make listening easier (things like preferential seating in the classroom, or using assistive listening technology to improve listening conditions in situations where there is a lot of background noise).  
    • Third, we teach children compensatory strategies for their poor listening skills (such as ways to ask for repetition of missed information, or recording of school lectures or assignment instructions).  These elements, in combination, greatly improve your ability to process auditory information and reduce the impact of CAPD in your daily life.
  • Therapy and other options are tailored to the specific deficits identified during testing.  These are different for each patient.

The treatment required to experience improvement varies from person to person, and each therapy program is tailored to the individual needs through consultation between our Audiologist and each CAPD patient.  Most commonly our treatment programs last 10-16 weeks, assuming good compliance with the therapy schedule, and include periodic assessments of progress.

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