How is Central Auditory Processing Disorder Identified and Treated?

Central Auditory Processing Disorder, or CAPD, is a complex condition to diagnose properly for many good reasons. The condition is not because the children cannot hear words being directed at them, but because their brains have an inability to interpret and process the words and understand their meaning, which implies that conventional hearing tests don’t consistently catch CAPD. Another reason it is difficult to diagnose is because children often develop advanced coping mechanisms. These children can be experts at reading lips or using expressions to conceal their problem.

CAPD therapy is tricky for the exact same reasons that the diagnosis is tricky. Any individual treating a child with CAPD must be mindful of these traits. At this point there is no known cure for CAPD, and no therapy that works equally well across all kids with the condition, so treatment must be highly individual and adjusted for the capabilities and limitations of each patient. But there are therapy approaches that seem to work, which can vastly improve the developmental prospects of children with CAPD.

These methodologies are usually described using three broad categories: environmental change, direct treatment and compensatory strategies.

  • Compensatory Strategies – Compensatory strategies focus on supporting the CAPD sufferers with improved skills in attention, problem solving, memory, language, and other critical coping strategies. The focus of these forms of training are to teach children both to take responsibility for their own learning success, and to give them the improved techniques and skills they will need to succeed. Strategies and techniques of this type consist of exercises in “active listening” and solving word problems.

  • Direct Treatment – Direct treatment methodologies include the use of computer-aided learning and 1-on-1 therapy sessions to make the most of the brain’s inherent plasticity – the ability to develop new neural pathways or ways of thinking. These kinds of methods include the use of the “Fast ForWord” software from Scientific Education or the “Simon” game by Hasbro to improve students’ ability to discriminate, order, and process the auditory inputs they hear. Some professionals use dichotic training to cultivate the kids’ ability to hear many sounds in different ears and process them correctly, while others use the “Earobics” program by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to develop an awareness of phonemes.

  • Environmental Change – Changing the child’s learning environment may help because it is well-known that background noise interferes with their ability to understand language. Therefore using curtains, acoustic tiles or wall hangings to minimize environmental noise may be helpful. Amplifying voices in the classroom is also effective; the instructor wears a microphone and the CAPD pupil puts on a tiny receiver that boosts the teacher’s voice to make it more distinct from other speakers or sounds. Even better lighting can help, because a dimly lit teacher’s face is not as easy to read for hints as to what they’re saying as a fully lit face.

  • Therefore if your child is identified as having CAPD, relax realizing that there are therapies available to address it, but do not forget that an accurate early diagnosis is vital to effective treatment. If you have additional questions regarding CAPD diagnosis and treatment options, please feel free to ask us. If our terrific team can’t help you we can help refer you to the very best local specialists.