Central auditory processing disorder
central; auditory; processing; disorder; ADD; language; ADHD; delay; hearing; CAPD; school; learning;
Some children and adults may be able to hear sounds well, but have difficulty understanding what the sounds mean, especially when there are a lot of other sounds around them.
For example, they may not be able to understand what someone is saying in a noisy classroom, but they may find it easier to understand when they are in a quiet place.
Some of these people may have a Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD).
- This means that the brain (central) has difficulty (disorder) working out (processing) the meaning of the sounds that they hear (auditory).
- This topic will attempt to give an introduction to CAPD, with links to other sites if you want to know more.
CAPD can affect adults as well as children - it is a difficulty that people have for the whole of their life, but this topic focuses on school age children.
do people have trouble understanding what is said?
There are many reasons why someone may have trouble understanding what someone else has said.
- The words may have been said very fast, or too quietly, or with an unusual accent.
- There may be a lot of noise around.
- The person may not be able to hear well (hearing loss).
- The person may have a developmental delay and not be able to understand what is being said.
- The person may have problems with attention (ie. Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD)
- The person may be too young to understand.
- The person may have CAPD.
that a child may have CAPD
Some of the things that children with CAPD find difficult are:
- listening to one voice when there are many people talking
- remembering instructions
- noticing the small differences between similar words (such as boat/coat, which/wish)
- concentrating in a noisy place.
They may also be very sensitive to noise, and prefer to be in a quiet place.
At school, almost everything that is done depends on the child being able to listen and work out what is being said by the teacher or other children. This can be very difficult for a child with CAPD, and the child may give up trying. It can appear like the child is being 'lazy' or 'disobedient', when in fact the child cannot manage to understand what is happening.
the difficulty CAPD?
There are some tests of hearing and understanding which can be done when a child is over about 9 years old, but these can be expensive, and there may be long waiting lists to have them.
Having a diagnosis of CAPD may help you and the school get extra support for your child, but a diagnosis is usually not needed. What is needed is assessment of whether the child has any other problem that may be the cause of attention and understanding problems. Your doctor, a speech pathologist, an audiologist and your child's teacher will be able to help you work out whether CAPD may be the problem your child has.
You need to make sure that the child does not have:
- CAPD tends to run in families (ie. it can be inherited)
- It may be due to brain injury
- It may be related to long lasting hearing difficulties.
Many children with CAPD also have ADD.
be done to help children with CAPD
The main type of help for a child who has CAPD involves making it easy for the child to understand what he hears, by:
- recognising that the child has a difficulty, and is not just being naughty.
- having his learning place (eg. classroom) as quiet as possible when the teacher is giving instructions. Many classrooms (especially junior primary classrooms) are very noisy much of the time.
- sitting the child close to the teacher, so that the teacher's voice is loud compared to the voices of other children.
- giving the child other ways of 'getting the message', such as written instructions.
- allowing the child to ask the teacher to repeat what has been said, or to ask other children.
- breaking instructions into simple steps, and giving the next instruction when the child has done the first one, eg. asking the child to stop what she is doing, then when she has stopped, telling her to take the book to the shelf, etc.
- having quiet study places at home.
Each of these may be helpful for any child who has a learning problem.
If these changes are not enough, and testing has been done to be sure that CAPD is the child's problem, an amplifying system may be helpful. The teacher may wear a microphone and the child may wear an earphone. The teacher's voice is then louder than other voices. These systems can be quite expensive, so the other ways of helping are usually tried first.
If you want to know more about CAPD, the following may be helpful.
KidsHealth (Nemours Foundation)
National Center for Learning Disabilities.
Learning Disabilities OnLine
The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).
This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn - please change to suit your child's sex.