Frequently Asked Questions

Why should we care about central auditory processing disorder (CAPD)?

“I’m stupid.” “I’m lonely.” “I’m not smart.” “I don’t understand.” “I’m confused.” “I’m not good enough.” “You’re a bad kid.” “You’re lazy.” These are all phrases individuals seen at the Foundation have said or have heard from others. Although these phrases are not true, these individuals often believe them. If we do not understand how an individual's auditory system is perceiving their environment and have realistic expectations for what their system can do, we may set them up to fail every day. We would never tell a blind student to go home every day and try harder to read a book, just as we should not tell an individual with CAPD to try harder to listen and focus during their day.

I’ve taken my child to an audiologist and their hearing is fine. Can they still have CAPD?

Yes, this is a common scenario encountered at Able Kids Foundation. Most audiologists do not provide central auditory processing (CAP) testing. If you or your child have normal hearing, but struggle to understand and focus in the presence of background noise, it is important to find an audiologist that has received sufficient training and is experienced in the diagnoses and management of CAPD. Some individuals have also received a diagnosis of hyperacusis or misophonia before to coming to the Foundation.

Are all test batteries equivalent?

Test batteries are not equal, and some are very easy to pass despite an individual having CAPD. Similarly, if an eye chart is made big enough, there is a point when even those with visual challenges can pass the exam. Individuals who pass insufficient test batteries are not able to receive proper support for their CAPD and may be continually misunderstood.

I was told my child cannot be tested until they are 8 years old. Is this true?

Individuals can be tested for CAPD as young as three years of age if they meet the testing requirements. The Foundation recommends evaluating an individual as soon as concerns are present to minimize the impact of CAPD on academic performance, social-relationships, self-esteem, etc. This information can also be valuable to ensuring expectations are appropriate and realistic. Similarly, if an individual presented with vision concerns before eight years of age, a vision evaluation should be considered. 

Is CAPD more common in individuals with other conditions (autism, ADD/ADHD)?

CAPD often coexists with other conditions such as autism, ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, sensory processing difficulties, speech and language delays, and visual processing challenges. Many individuals with CAPD have also received a diagnosis of sensory processing disorder. Management of CAPD is important regardless of whether comorbidities exist.

Can you test an individual with autism for CAPD?

Yes. Just like an individual with autism can receive a hearing evaluation, speech-language assessment, vision evaluation, and ADD/ADHD assessments, etc., individuals with autism can also receive a CAP evaluation provided they meet the testing requirements. Test batteries utilizing cross-checks of performance and age-appropriate norms provide valid outcomes.

Can a gifted individual have CAPD?

Yes, CAPD occurs independently of other strengths, including strong intellectual abilities. The Foundation has evaluated many gifted individuals including attorneys, doctors, engineers, professional athletes, musicians, teachers, etc. Expending extra effort to listen and focus throughout the day can be exhausting, leaving individuals feeling irritable and frustrated at the end of the day. Some may also lack the energy to do other activities, including spending time with their family or socializing with friends.

Can you test an individual that is nonverbal?

Yes! Diagnostic tests include picture pointing paradigms which allow audiologists to assess individuals who are nonverbal, including selective mutism, provided they meet the testing requirements.

Is CAPD more common in boys than girls?

Some research suggests that CAPD occurs more in boys than girls. However, the Foundation has not observed a significant difference between the two groups. The Foundation observes that societal perceptions between genders can impact the referral process.

What causes CAPD?

CAPD may be due to genetics, delayed maturation, viruses, and/or injury to the head. The Foundation serves many families who suspect a genetic component.

Is it harmful to use sound attenuating headphones or earplugs?

Able Kids Foundation is unaware of research demonstrating that the use of headphones or earplugs is harmful to the auditory system. If someone lives alone and/or works in a quiet office by themself, they are not damaging their auditory system by being in a quiet, controlled environment. In addition, the Foundation reevaluates many individuals who report consistent use of sound attenuating devices during their day and has not observed a decrease in hearing or auditory processing abilities. Headphones/earplugs allow individuals to create a quiet place in an otherwise noisy/chaotic environment when they need to concentrate or take a break from surrounding noises. The Foundation’s clients often report that the use of headphones/earplugs is life changing. Headphones/earplugs should not be used when it is necessary to listen for safety or communication.

What is the best referral process?

Many of the Foundation’s clients have easily passed CAPD screening measures. A conversation with an audiologist that specializes in CAPD regarding concerns and behaviors presented will provide useful information to determine if a CAP evaluation may be beneficial.

Client Testimonial

“I don’t know how to thank you for everything. My daughter received her filter and it fits perfectly. She doesn’t even feel it. She noticed a difference immediately. It was so significant she started crying. She said she could hear us talking and that it was clear – very, very clear. She wears it from the time she gets up to the time she goes to sleep. She is taking very good care of it because she says it has changed everything. I can see a difference as well. She is more confident and able to participate in conversations. Her GPA went from a 2.0 to a 3.749 – enough to make it on honor roll. Thank you!”

- Parent from Utah

Children and adults with CAPD deserve equal access to the auditory information in their daily environments.

We would never tell a blind student to go home every day and try harder to read a book, just as we should not tell an individual with CAPD to try harder to listen and focus during their day.

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