More than five percent of school-aged children (and almost 20% of the population as a whole) are affected by Central Auditory Processing Disorder, yet little is known about this complex problem.
Simply stated auditory processing is what we do with what we hear; Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) is a weakness in the processing of information that is heard.
Children with Central Auditory Processing Disorder cannot use the information they hear in the same way as others because their brain and ears are not fully coordinated. This deficit appears more pronounced in noisy environments and may result in difficulties in listening, speech understanding, language development and learning.
As a result an affected person shows an inability to discriminate, identify or comprehend what is said, even though their hearing and intelligence are normal. There are no known causes but males are two times more likely to suffer from a Central Auditory Processing Disorder and children with chronicear infections, head injuries or developmental delays are also more prone.
Symptoms of Central Auditory Processing Disorder vary by age and the cognitive abilities of the person. Typically people with processing disorders may have trouble understanding what is said to them, responding to commands or retaining information unless it is repeated several times.
Since many of the symptoms of Central Auditory Processing Disorder also appear in those suffering with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), dyslexia, Asperger’s syndrome and other forms of autism, many children with Central Auditory Processing Disorder remain un- or misdiagnosed and fail to achieve to their best potential.
According to Christine Russo-Mayer, Doctor of Audiology, “In general, ADD and Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) can co-exist, but the symptoms of the two disorders must be separated. The complaints of both disorders may be very similar; however the primary complaints and symptoms are very different”
Russo-Mayer explains that the two most common symptoms or complaints of ADD are inattention and distractibility. Although these symptoms also occur in CAPD, they are usually farther down the list of complaints.
The two most common Central Auditory Processing Disorder symptoms and complaints are difficulty of hearing in non-controlled environments (loud background noise) or and difficulty following oral directions. Like all learning dysfunctions, early diagnosis and intervention can help most children learn the proper strategies to overcome this disorder.
- Did my child suffer chronic ear infections before age five?
- Was my child a late talker or have problems with speech clarity, or articulation? Does he avoid speaking in groups, because he can understand what is said?
- Does he often seem to ignore people, especially if engrossed in an activity or television show? Does he avoid social interaction?
- Does my child confuse similar-sounding words; like cat and bat?
- Does my child appear to be easily distracted and ask for things to be repeated?
- Does he or she have a limited ability to stay on task, or recall basic facts and routines?
- Does my child have difficulty following directions, especially those with multiple steps?
- Is he or she disorganized and forgetful?
- Does he have reading, spelling, writing, or other speech-language difficulties?
- Are verbal (word) math problems difficult for my child to solve?
A diagnosis of Central Auditory Processing Disorder can only be made after a full evaluation, conducted by a board certified audiologist.
If your child is diagnosed with Central Auditory Processing Disorder, an audiologist and speech pathologist can develop educational strategies and recommendations that can be implemented at home and school.
Jen is a contributing author on HowToLearn.com and regularly provides information and educational content for readers on a variety of topics including Central Auditory Processing Disorder.