Central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) is a condition in which there is a disconnect between what is heard and what is understood. There is not an actual hearing problem, but rather a problem with processing what is heard. CAPD affects up to 5 percent of school-aged children. CAPD is more pronounced in a noisy setting or when a child is listening to complex information.
The symptoms of CAPD include:
- Frequently misunderstanding oral (spoken) instructions or questions
- Saying “huh” or “what” frequently
- Often needs directions or information repeated
If your child has CAPD, they may have difficulty:
- Hearing in noisy settings
- Remembering spoken information
- Distinguishing speech sounds, i.e., phonics
- Following multi-step directions
- Maintaining focus on an activity if other sounds are present or be easily distracted by other sounds in the environment
If left untreated, CAPD can lead to speech, language, and academic problems, particularly in the areas of spelling, reading, writing, and speaking skills.
Your child’s doctor will conduct a thorough examination, and collect a history of your child’s challenges and behaviors to diagnose CAPD.
Modifications at Home
There are a variety of modifications you can make to your home environment to help your child cope with CAPD, such as reducing background noise in the home and providing your child with a quiet, dedicated study space. You should ask your child to look at you when you speak and use simple, expressive sentences. Ask your child to repeat directions back to you and to keep repeating them aloud until they have completed the task.
When your child needs to remember something for later, they should get in the habit of writing a note, wearing a watch, and maintaining a household routine. General organization and scheduling are highly beneficial to children with CAPD.
Modifications at School
Your child’s teacher should make certain modifications to help your child do their best in the classroom. These modifications may include providing visual aids to supplement auditory instruction, providing written instructions or a homework list, and seating your child toward the front of the classroom.
You may want to consider an auditory trainer for your child at school. A frequency modulation (FM) system is an electronic device that enhances the teacher’s voice and reduces background noise in the classroom. Your child’s teacher wears a microphone and your child wears a headset to receive the sound.
Language Building Skills
Your child may need extra instruction and practice in language building and phonological awareness – either in the school setting or with a tutor or other specialist.
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