Auditory Processing

What is an Auditory Processing (AP)/Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)?    

The two terms are synonymous. The meaning is the same:  

  • There is a breakdown in receiving, remembering, understanding and using auditory information.
  • Hearing ability is normal.
  • There is a neurological basis
  • The child’s ability to understand what is heard is impaired.

Incidence of Central Auditory Processing Disorder   

People of all ages can have a Central Auditory Processing Disorder.  While children get the most attention because it interferes with their learning and academics, people can develop it later in life. Estimates vary; however, between 2%-7% of children have it. It is more prevalent in boys than in girls. The disorder generally leads to learning delays. As a result, students who have CAPD often need significant help in school.

Attention Deficit Disorder vs Central Auditory Processing Disorder

A child with a Central Auditory Processing Disorder can exhibit the same types of behavioral problems as a child with Attention Deficit Disorder; however, working with the two types of disorders is quite different. Children with central auditory processing issues need to have very specific auditory skill sets developed.  

Checklist of Behaviors Seen in Children with Central Auditory Processing Disorders

This list is by no means exhaustive. Further, these behavioral characteristics are not exclusive to central auditory processing dysfunction. They can co-exist with other disorders (learning disabilities, language impairment, Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder as well as Autism.

  • Trouble listening and paying attention (for periods of time)
  • Mishearing information
  • Taking longer to respond to questions
  • Struggling with small sound differences in words
  • Problems following simple or complex directions
  • Problems attending to oral messages in noisy environments or when verbal information is presented rapidly
  • Frequent use of the words “huh, what”
  • Inconsistent or inappropriate responses to questions or directives
  • Distractibility in the presence of background noises
  • Difficulty learning songs or nursery rhymes
  • Poor test performance on speech/language or educational tests in the auditory areas.
  • Trouble learning a new language
  • Poor organization of verbal material
  • Oral and written expression problems
  • Remembering what they hear
  • Difficulty localizing sound
  • Delays in reading, spelling and overall learning weaknesses.

Treatment and Strategies

The child should have an interdisciplinary team work-up including a Central Auditory Processing Disorder evaluation done by an audiologist. A speech pathologist should also be called upon for expertise in diagnosing and remediation of the language deficiencies.

  • Direct skills remediation
  • Compensatory strategies 
  • Computer-Based Training
  •  Interhemispheric Transfer Training

Further information on Auditory Processing Disorders

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association