When we hear a sound, a word, a story, or even a song, a beautiful process unfolds along our auditory pathway. The ear sends complex information all the way to the brain, which decodes the information to make sense of its meaning. We hear all the sounds of our world – including speech, language, and music –not with our ears, but with our brains. This is called auditory processing. This process is disrupted for children and adults with Central Auditory Processing Disorder.
Signs of CAPD
When the ear does not coordinate with the brain, sounds are incorrectly heard and often misinterpreted. Persons with CAPD especially experience difficulty understanding sounds and speech in background noise (i.e., the hum of a fan, chatter in a classroom). CAPD can negatively impact listening, language skills, and learning. Some signs of CAPD can include:
- Being easily distracted by background sounds/noise
- Difficulty focusing on or remembering spoken information or directions
- Difficulty with words: misspelling, mispronouncing, omitting syllables, confusing similar sounding words
- Difficulty processing and remembering language related tasks
- Often is thought to be ignoring people
- Says "what?" a lot even if they heard what was said
- Slow processing of thoughts and ideas
- Difficulty explaining him/herself
- Interpreting words too literally, often missing out on puns, jokes, and figurative language
- Difficulty with complex sentence structure or rapid speech
CAPD cannot be diagnosed by symptoms alone. Only careful assessment of the auditory pathway by a professional trained in auditory disorders, an audiologist, leads to an accurate diagnosis of CAPD. While other providers (i.e. educators, speech language pathologists, psychologists) are important members of the care team for a patient who exhibits the difficulties associated with CAPD, only an audiologist can diagnose CAPD.
Testing is completed under headphones and in a sound booth. Five core tests are administered, in which the patient is asked to repeat back information (words, numbers, and pitches) presented to either ear. The tests are designed to assess the specialized auditory skills of decoding, integration, and prosody.
Treatment of CAPD is highly individualized and based upon the patient’s needs and diagnostic test results. Our team of audiologists and speech language pathologists will work with you and/or your child to determine the best treatment plan, and help provide important information to educate teachers and school personnel to ensure classroom modifications are in place to assist learning.
Treatment plans are often intense in nature and involve home practice activities. Therapy can range from computer-assisted software programs to one-on-one training with our speech and language therapists. Approaches include, but are not limited to, auditory training and dichotic listening training with words, phrases and sentences presented in background noise, training the brain to differentiate sounds in increasing background noise (sound discrimination problem), repetition of sequencing routines (auditory memory), and self advocacy skills to ask for repetition or rephrasing of instructions or comments (language processing problems).