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Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)

  • What is central auditory processing disorder (CAPD)?

    Central auditory processing disorder (CAPD), also known as auditory processing disorder (APD), is a group name for a number of disorders that affect the hearing process. Although people with CAPD have normal hearing, their brain is unable to process and make sense of what they are hearing.

    CAPD affects both adults and children. It causes difficulty in understanding language due to a distortion of the auditory (hearing) signal. Some main traits of CAPD in children are the inability to decipher speech in noisy places, difficulty following directions and conversations, poor decoding skills, distraction and learning difficulties.

  • The cause of CAPD is not known.

    • CAPD can occur due to the abnormal processing of auditory information by the brain, which can be a result of the late development of the central auditory system
    • Some developmental abnormalities have been linked to CAPD, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), dyslexia and language impairments
    • There is also some evidence suggesting that children with neurological (brain and nerves) disorders, head injury and chronic ear infections can suffer from CAPD
  • The symptoms of CAPD can display in different forms and can range from mild to severe. They include:

    • Late speech and language development
    • Difficulty concentrating and understanding fast or unclear speech
    • Difficulty replying to questions
    • Being distracted and inattentive
    • Frequently asking for information to be repeated
    • Poor listening abilities
    • Poor performance in big groups
    • Poor self-esteem and anxiety
    • Reading, writing and spelling difficulties
    • Sensitivity to loud sounds
    • Trouble finding the source of a sound
    • Trouble telling the difference between sounds
    • Trouble listening and understanding speech in noisy environments
    • Trouble remembering information that was heard
  • There is no cure for CAPD. However, different treatment options aim to improve this condition. A speech therapist will assess the condition and recommend a suitable treatment based on its severity.

    Treatment may include:

    • Individual speech therapy sessions that aim to train auditory processing pathways
    • Intervention to help adjust a child's academic and learning environments, such as:
      1. Assigning seats away from windows and other distractions
      2. Assigning seats close to teachers in the classroom
      3. Reducing background noise whenever possible
      4. Using hearing aids to increase speech signals and direct them to the child's ears
      5. Using visual aids such as handouts and diagrams to help the child follow the lesson

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