Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)

What is Central Auditory Processing Disorder?

Central auditory processing disorder (CAPD), also known as auditory processing disorder (APD), is  a general term for a number of disorders that affect the hearing process. People with CAPD have normal hearing, however, their brains are unable to process and make sense of what they have heard.

CAPD affects both adults and children, and causes difficulty in understanding language due to distortion to auditory (hearing) signal. Some of the main characteristics of CAPD in children include inability to clearly distinguish speech in noisy environment, difficulty in following directions and conversations, poor decoding skills, distraction and learning difficulties.

Cause of CAPD is not known.

  • CAPD may occur due to abnormal processing of auditory information by the brain, which can result from the delayed 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.
  • Some evidence suggested that children with neurological disorders, head trauma, and chronic ear infections may suffer from CAPD.

Symptoms of CAPD can be in different forms ranging from mild to severe, including:

  • Delayed speech and language development
  • Difficulty in concentrating and understanding fast or unclear speech
  • Difficulty in responding to questions
  • Distraction and inattentiveness
  • 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 in determining the source of a sound
  • Trouble in differentiating sounds
  • Trouble in listening and understanding speech in noisy environment
  • Trouble in remembering information that was heard

There is no cure for CAPD. However, there are different treatment options aimed at improving the condition. Speech therapist will evaluate the patient’s condition and recommend treatment that finds most appropriate to the patient, depending on the severity of the disorder. Treatment may include:

  • Individual speech therapy sessions that aim to encourage and train auditory processing pathways
  • Intervention to help manipulate a child's academic and learning environment, and these may include:
    • Assigning seats away from windows and other distractions
    • Assigning seats close to teachers in the classroom
    • Reducing background noise whenever possible
    • Using hearing aids to amplify speech signals and putting them directly to the student’s ears
    • Using visual aids such as handouts and diagrams to assist the child

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