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What is Central Auditory Processing Disorder?
By Adrienne DeWitt, M.A., CCC-SLP
Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) is a deficit in the ability to process auditory (sound) information. This can negatively impact a child’s language and learning.
The breakdown occurs in the central nervous system, not the ear. CAPD can be caused by a brain injury, but often the cause is unknown.
It can be found in some children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other language and learning disabilities. Both an audiologist and a speech-language pathologist (SLP) work together to evaluate and diagnose CAPD.
Children with CAPD have difficulty with…
  • Understanding language, especially if someone is speaking fast or in the presence of background noise.
  • Following directions, especially multistep directions.
  • Paying attention.
  • Reading and spelling.
  • Learning new nursery rhymes, songs, and languages.
A child with CAPD may…
  • Misinterpret messages.
  • Say “What?” often.
  • Respond to messages inconsistently or take a long time to respond.
  • Struggle with academic tasks, such as reading and spelling.
To help a child with CAPD, parents and educators can…
  • Maintain eye contact while giving directions.
  • Speak slowly and clearly.
  • Break down directions into simpler, smaller parts.
  • Check to make sure the student understands directions by asking him/her to repeat them; rephrase the instructions if need be.
  • Add visual reminders and organizers, such as a graphic organizer.
  • Use an FM system in the classroom to cut down on background noise if the recommendation is made by an audiologist (see Handy Handout #281 for more information).
  • Reduce background noise, like the humming of a computer.
  • Reduce the echo in the room by adding absorbent materials to hard surfaces, such as a rug.
An SLP might help by…
  • Teaching key words to help the comprehension of directions.
  • Having the student identify sounds, discriminate (tell the difference between) two sounds, recognize sounds patterns, train listening with background noise, etc.
  • Using computer programs, like HearBuilder, to help develop following directions, phonological awareness, auditory memory, and sequencing skills.
  • Teaching memory techniques, such as repetition and chunking of information.
“Central Auditory Processing Disorder,” American Speech and Hearing Association, accessed August 10, 2020,§ion=Overview.

*Handy Handouts® are for classroom and personal use only.
Any commercial use is strictly prohibited.

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