Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) in a Nutshell

In addition to diabetes, T-Bear has CAPD, which we’ve known about since he was three. Some kids get all the breaks. Just in case anyone is curious about what living with CAPD is like, I've pulled the following information from an article called “Recognizing and Treating Children with Central Auditory Processing Disorders” written by Maxine L. Young, M.S., CCC-A/SLP, FAAA. Please shoot me a note or post a comment if you’d like a copy of the whole article in Adobe Reader.

What is CAPD?
Children and adults who have central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) are a heterogeneous group of people who have difficulty using auditory information to communicate and learn. CAPD is not a specific problem or disease; rather it is a set of problems that occur in different kinds of listening tasks. Often children with CAPD are first diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or learning disabilities. Later, an audiologist may render a diagnosis of CAPD. To audiologists, CAPD includes problems with one or more of the following auditory tasks (ASHA CAPD Task Force, 1996):

* Sound localization and lateralization
* Auditory discrimination
* Auditory pattern recognition
* Temporal aspects of audition (resolution, masking, integration, ordering)
* Auditory performance decrements with competing acoustic signals
* Auditory performance with degraded acoustic signals

Audiologists make the diagnosis using standardized tests of these skills administered incarefully controlled acoustic environments with very sophisticated calibrated equipment. Because the American Speech Language Hearing Association has determined that diagnosis of CAPD falls under the scope of practice of audiology, it is important to understand what the audiological diagnosis means.

Sound localization and lateralization refers to the ability of a child or adult to know where a sound has occurred in space. This is an important survival skill; localization is used to identify a source of sound, like a moving vehicle or barking dog.

Auditory discrimination refers to the ability to distinguish one sound from another. The term is most often used for distinguishing speech sounds, such as phoneme /p/ from phoneme /b/.

Auditory pattern recognition refers to the ability to determine similarities and differences in patterns of sounds.

Temporal aspects of auditory processing refers to the ability to sequence sounds, integrate a sequence of sounds into words or other meaningful combinations, and perceive sounds as separate when they quickly follow one another.

Auditory performance decrements refers to the ability to perceive speech or other sounds when another signal is present. The other signal might be noise or another similar speech signal, and the competing signal might be soft or loud.

Auditory performance with degraded acoustic signals refers to the ability to perceive a signal in which some of the information is missing. A degraded signal might be one where parts of the sound spectrum have been deleted, the highest or lowest frequency components of the sound are removed, or where the sound is compressed in time.

As can be seen from the above descriptions, these auditory tasks are not easily compared to what a teacher or parent might observe in the classroom or at home. A teacher might observe that a child cannot “listen” well when there is a lot of noise in the room. A parent might observe that the child is easily distracted when two people are talking to him or her at once. Because these functional “real life” behaviors are difficult to test objectively, and because they may be symptomatic of other problems not related to the auditory system, the audiologist must use more objective measures that may or may not directly correspond to these observable behaviors.

So, there you have it in a nutshell. I'm always happy to answer questions if you have 'em.


  1. how can i 'shoot you a note' ??

    the big issue is whether t-bear is able to read or not.


  2. I ran across your blog when I was researching CAPD. I'm trying to find someone whose young child has been officially diagnosed with CAPD so I can have more of a feel of what a child with CAPD is like. My son is in Kindergarten and has been in speech for 18 months and the ST thinks he might have CAPD, but we can't get him tested until he's 6. He's a very smart kid, but has such issues learning orally and gets words confused. Did your son get an official diagnosis for this? How old was he at the time? Are you up for telling me what some of his symptoms were?

    thanks SO much!

  3. Hi, Kate! I think I saw your name pop up on the CAPDSupport forum. If so, you can access my "introduction" in which I rambled on quite a bit about our journey-to-date: http://www.capdsupport.org/component/option,com_agora/id,18/task,topic/

    Take a look, and then send me a note if you'd like to chat more. I'm always happy to talk about our approach and share information :) Hueyhome@msn.com