CAPD Characteristics

Classic behaviors associated with central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) are easy to identify once you understand what to look for.

Colorful letters representing background noise filter into a woman's ear

CAPD manifests in many ways due to coping strategies, strengths "masking" CAPD, and/or demands of the auditory environment, etc. Individuals may appear to have hearing loss despite having excellent hearing. They may also appear to be inattentive, unmotivated, noncompliant, or emotionally sensitive. Knowing the cause of these behaviors allows for improved understanding and support of the individual with CAPD.  

Commonly reported behaviors of Able Kids Foundation clients, including groups identified with autism and as gifted, can be found on our Resources page. The top 10 behaviors and how they may present as reported by a random sample of Able Kids Foundation clients diagnosed with CAPD are:

1. Easily Distracted

Individuals with CAPD often report having "super hearing." The presence of sound, which may not be detectable by others, can make it difficult to focus and complete work in a timely manner. Staying connected and engaged during conversation is also more challenging.

2. Sensitive to Loud Sounds

Noisy places can be more overwhelming and exhausting, even fun settings such as birthday parties and family holidays. Individuals may withdraw or seek alone-time, appearing disinterested or rude. Auditory sensitivity may also appear as meltdowns, irritability, or avoidance of noisy activities. Some individuals may have received a diagnosis of hyperacusis or misophonia. 

3. Mishears

Individuals who mishear auditory information may appear to be "poor listeners" or noncompliant. They may also request repetition of auditory information and say "you never said that!" Mishearing information can create communication breakdowns across all environments. 

4. Experiences anxiety

Individuals often experience anxiety related to their auditory environments, including learning and social settings. Frequent restroom breaks or trips to the nurse's office are often reported in an effort to escape the noise. Other individuals may avoid group situations and have a preference for staying home.

5. Easily Frustrated

Mishearing, being misunderstood, and experiencing exhaustion due to noise can be frustrating. Have you ever had a tag on your shirt bother you all day? Imagine that tag is noise.

6. Appears Confused in Noisy Places

The ability to understand speech is compromised in noisy environments, leaving individuals with CAPD often feeling disengaged, confused, and overwhelmed. This may also present as "shutting down" or as hyperactive.

7. Difficulty Following Directions

Individuals with CAPD often report that they can hear but cannot understand the auditory information, making it difficult to follow directions. The auditory system can also become overloaded, making it challenging to retain large amounts of auditory information, such as in a lecture, group environment, etc.

8. Forgetful

Individuals may appear forgetful when they do not understand what was asked of them. Individuals also report being more forgetful when experiencing auditory overload. 

9. Slow at Starting New Tasks

Mishearing instructions, being distracted by noise, and/or feeling exhausted due to CAPD are some factors that can contribute to delaying the start of a task.

10. Easily Upset in New Situations

Structure, routine, and familiarity are important for many individuals with CAPD and help to provide control and predictability during the day. Changes to the day can be upsetting, even if they revolve around fun activities.

Client Testimonial

The ear filter is working extremely well. We have heard from our daughter’s teacher and principal that she is a lot more calm and less on edge than she had been. We have noticed the same at home. She also has more energy at the end of each school day. She used to immediately fall asleep in the car on the ride home and now she energetically tells us about her day. Thank you!

- Parent from Colorado

The Foundation's Referral Sources

Clients are referred to Able Kids Foundation by parents and school districts, as well as other professionals, including audiologists, physicians, psychologists, occupational therapists, optometrists, reading specialists, and speech pathologists.

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