Central Auditory Processing Disorder

Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) creates a hearing difference even when hearing thresholds are within normal limits.

This means the ears can hear the signal coming in but the brain cannot fully interpret it.  Children with CAPD may behave as though they have a hearing loss.  They hear the words but struggle to process and understand the meaning of the individual sounds, and when there is background noise, the struggle gets even worse.  Background noise can decrease a child’s ability to process language by more than 50%.

Having CAPD can impact learning and may appear to be poor listening skills such as:

  • Often asking for information to be repeated
  • Misunderstanding conversations
  • Difficulty with phonological awareness
  • Poor receptive skills and expressive language skills
  • Inability to sequence and organize thoughts
  • Poor pragmatic language skills
  • Auditory fatigue

A child diagnosed with CAPD may have difficulty with spelling, reading and understanding information presented verbally in the classroom and at home. They could also have issues with math and numbers.  It is important to examine the student’s specific subtest results to best manage and identify their needs.  The results of each subtest will help you consider the possible accommodations and modifications for your child, which may be provided for your child under a 504 plan.

You and the 504 committee will meet to discuss your student’s needs, and create a 504 plan to provide accommodations and modifications.  Make sure you understand the difference between an accommodation which allows access for your child, and a modification which can change the educational expectations of your child.  Accommodations give your child equal access to their listening and learning environment.

Modifications, such as reducing your child’s assignments, can create a learning gap between them and their peers.  For example, if your child has to learn only 5 vocabulary words, and their classmates have to learn 10 words, at the end of the year your child is 50% behind their peers and may not be prepared to take on the next year’s work level.  On the other hand, the modification of pre-teaching vocabulary to prepare your child for upcoming instruction may be very beneficial for their learning.

CAPD is not a category of eligibility under IDEA, however, many children with CAPD meet the eligibility criteria for specific learning disability or other health impaired.  Even if a child has a documented area of weakness, they may not be eligible for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).  You, the parent, need to share in the support for your child’s educational needs and work as a team with the school to help them learn.

Some accommodations that can help in the home and school setting are:

  • A quiet place to take tests or do homework away from noise and distractions
  • Have access to class notes in the written form before or after the lesson
  • A notetaker to share notes with the child to ensure all information is included
  • Breaks to allow for the brain to rest in order process better
  • Speak at a slower rate and use one step directions
  • Write the directions down
  • Have conversations face to face

There are some therapies which support improving auditory memory and processing skills.  Ask the audiologist for a list of therapists in your area who can support your child.  Your participation in your child’s educational experience is critical to your child’s success.  Be sure to understand the federal and state laws that protect your child, keep complete and accurate records, and be a positive advocate and active participant throughout your child’s education.