Central Auditory Processing Disorder

What is Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)?

Have you ever met someone who has trouble focusing on conversations in noisy places, and can’t follow what you’re saying? There’s a chance they are struggling with Central Auditory Processing Disorder. CAPD is a glitch in the brain’s mechanisms. The central processing system in the brain isn’t interpreting sounds appropriately, or screening out background noises. Noises and words become garbled, and no matter how concentrated a person with CAPD is, the important sounds get lost in all the other noises, leading to confusion and frustration.

Common Signs of CAPD

Someone with CAPD struggles with language processing, and this affects their ability to listen to and understand what’s being said. They have difficulty localizing sounds, and even when the person struggling with CAPD figures out where in the room the sound is coming from, they can’t separate speech from distracting background sounds. It’s easy to see how conversations and social interactions would be a big challenge. Do you notice that your loved one will often run words together, or drop sounds from words? This is another sign of CAPD. Trouble remembering information and poor reading comprehension are linked with CAPD, and lead to difficulties in social, educational, and work environments. Other signs include having trouble understanding conversations over the phone, difficulty in learning a foreign language, and not maintaining focus.

CAPD in Children

While we don’t know what causes CAPD in children, we do recognize the symptoms. It’s estimated that around 7% of children have CAPD, and they have great difficulties both at school and at home. Communication is challenging, and learning can be extremely difficult. Children with CAPD are often diagnosed with other learning or developmental disabilities, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). At school, they will often struggle with listening, paying attention, reading, spelling, taking notes, learning vocabulary, memorizing facts, and understanding and following directions. They are easily distracted, and need more time to process and understand information.

There is effective treatment available for children with CAPD. As children mature through adolescence, their brain remains high in plasticity, allowing for rapid development and growth in the brain. For those with APD, this means there’s a chance to develop normal hearing and comprehension. CAPD can be successfully treated through speech and language therapy, developing normal processing in the brain. Working with the school, other accommodations can be made for children with CAPD, such as closing the window or adding a rug to cut down on background noises.

Central Auditory Processing Disorder

CAPD in Adults

CAPD in adults may be acquired, and they may not even know it. CAPD could be a consequence of traumatic brain injury or other illnesses. It may also, surprisingly, be acquired through changes in environment. For example, a person who has always worked in quiet environments but gets a job at a loud environment, such as a call center, may acquire CAPD. CAPD could be acquired in even less dramatic circumstances, due to exposure to different sounds.

Adults with CAPD have difficulty understanding and remembering what’s been said, and often misinterpret situations. This leads to poor communication and can strain relationships. Your loved one will often misread your tone of voice, and read the context inappropriately. Maybe they think you’re upset when you’re just excited, or don’t pick up on the sarcasm in your voice. With CAPD, the person is struggling just to understand the words being said, and can’t read other cues. Work to enhance communication by eliminating background noises such as the TV, and try to speak concisely.

CAPD in Adults

AZ Balance & Hearing is here to help.

What should you do if you think you or your loved one has CAPD? The first thing to do is visit us at Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids. Our audiologists are trained and have the most experience in the Phoenix area to treat CAPD. We will perform a series of CAPD tests to determine speech comprehension, both in quiet and in noise. Normal screening involves a questionnaire, observing behaviors, and testing the ability to differentiate between speech and sound. Treatment options include speech and language therapy to discriminate sounds more clearly, develop listening skills, and improve listening comprehension. Early intervention and treatment is critical for the best outcomes, so call us today to book an appointment for a diagnosis.