What Parents and Caregivers Should Know About Central Auditory Processing Disorder

A little girl with long dark hair and a top with butterflies on it cups her right hand behind her right ear, signaling that she has trouble hearing.Problems with processing sounds don’t always stem from issues with the ears. For children with central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) – also known as simply auditory processing disorder – the difficulty lies in how the brain identifies and comprehends sounds, according to KidsHealth.

Fortunately, with early diagnosis and treatment, kids with CAPD can still do well at school and communicate effectively with the people around them in all settings. If you’re a parent or caregiver who’s concerned that your child might have trouble with auditory processing, here’s everything you should know about the condition and how it’s diagnosed and treated.

1. What are some common signs of central auditory processing disorder?

CAPD has a wide range of symptoms, many of which overlap with other disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning disabilities, according to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. As a result, you should see an audiologist to ensure an accurate diagnosis.

Some behaviors and issues that can indicate that your child has CAPD can include the following, according to Johns Hopkins and KidsHealth:

  • Frequently mishearing speech and other sounds
  • Trouble hearing when there’s a lot of background noise (e.g., in a noisy auditorium or cafeteria)
  • Issues identifying which direction a noise is coming from
  • Inattentiveness and getting distracted easily
  • Difficulty learning new languages
  • Lack of musical ability and appreciation
  • Trouble following rapid speech
  • Issues following verbal directions

These are only some of the symptoms. It’s important to see a specialist for a comprehensive evaluation if you notice your child has issues processing sound.

2. What causes central auditory processing disorder in children?

Auditory processing disorder in children can stem from a wide range of conditions and contributing factors, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Here are just a few potential sources:

  • Genetics
  • Neurological conditions or damage, such as brain injuries, seizure disorders and neurotoxin exposure, among others
  • Prenatal and neonatal issues, such as low birth weight or premature birth

Sometimes the cause of CAPD in children is unknown.

3. How is central auditory processing disorder treated?

CAPD treatment aims to help the child listen and communicate better in day-to-day settings, according to the ASHA. Typically, a team of specialists – which might include an audiologist, school counselor, speech-language pathologist, and teacher – will work with parents and caregivers to develop and carry out an individual treatment plan.

Pediatric speech therapy and occupational therapy can benefit children with auditory processing disorder. A speech-language pathologist will typically use a play-based intervention approach to work on following directions, answering questions and problem-solving, starting in a quiet environment and working their way up to noisier settings.

Speech therapists also commonly leverage a hierarchy of cueing as well as compensatory strategies to help children with auditory processing issues become more independent. Meanwhile, a pediatric occupational therapist can assist with any sensory problems or trouble with auditory timing.

4. What should I do if I think my child has auditory processing issues?

If you suspect your child might have CAPD, you should take them to an audiologist for an evaluation, as these specialists are the only ones who can definitively diagnose the condition, according to KidsHealth.

However, if you have general questions about auditory processing disorder and its treatment, our team of pediatric professionals might be able to assist you. Our team delivers comprehensive and compassionate pediatric speech, occupational, physical and feeding therapy to improve the lives of children of all ages from our clinics in Chicago, Glenview, Highland Park, Wilmette and Willowbrook in Illinois and Crown Point in Indiana. We also serve patients outside of the Midwest via our sister company, Little Steps Florida LLC.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us by calling 847-707-6744 or emailing info@littlestepspt.com.

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