Explore what Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) is, its causes, and the telltale signs in children and adults. Understand why a CAPD test is recommended.
CAPD is believed to affect about 5% of school-aged children. Individuals with CAPD may have normal ear function but struggle with sound processing. For children, the symptoms will be more evident in noisy environments or when given several instructions at once. This can affect how the child performs in class.
Common signs and symptoms of CAPD include:
The exact causes of CAPD are still unknown. What’s known is that CAPD involves changes in how the brain processes sound, but the reasons are still being studied. It is also not clear whether the condition is congenital or develops post-birth. However, it is known that children with frequent ear infections may be more susceptible to developing CAPD.
CAPD will not show up in a standard hearing test. A specific test for CAPD is performed to assess the auditory processing skills and hearing ability. This involves an extensive case history and a preliminary hearing test to rule out hearing loss.
During an auditory processing evaluation, the audiologist will perform a series of tests to determine if the individual is able to listen to speech in background noise, repeat a series of words or numbers, listen to words coming to both ears at the same time, and ignore words from one side and focus on the other side.
Each test assesses one or more auditory functions and is age–appropriate. The tests, lasting 2-3 hours, are only suitable for children aged seven and above. Diagnosing CAPD can be difficult because some of the signs may also overlap with attention, speech, language, and learning issues.
Many disorders present behavioural characteristics similar to CAPD that can cause the listener to perform poorly on behavioural central auditory function tests and/or exhibit similar functional listening difficulties (Ferre, 2014). A multi-disciplinary approach involving audiologists, speech pathologists, psychologists, doctors, and even teachers can help ensure that the individual receives a suitable diagnosis and care.
Understanding Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) is crucial for effective management. If you or your loved one shows signs of CAPD, consider consulting an audiology professional to learn more about the condition to determine a suitable therapy.