Understanding CAPD

Central auditory processing disorder is common and often misunderstood.

The auditory system is responsible for many important tasks. The most well-known of these tasks is hearing. What is less well understood is that despite having excellent hearing, some individuals work harder and expend more effort to understand auditory information and focus during their day (assign meaning and prioritize). This condition is known as central auditory processing disorder (CAPD).

Responsibilities of the Auditory System

1. Detect sounds

A traditional hearing test assesses hearing and determines the softest sound that an individual can detect. A hearing test cannot provide information about how well the system processes auditory information or rule out CAPD.

2. Assign meaning

Hearing and assigning meaning to auditory information are two different tasks. We cannot assume that because one heard the information, that they understood it. Similarly, someone may have dyslexia despite having excellent vision.

3. Filter and prioritize

Individuals with CAPD cannot filter and prioritize sounds efficiently, causing even the quietest of sounds to be disruptive. This can impact listening, focus, and cause individuals to feel exhausted and/or overwhelmed. Group conversations can also be challenging and is often described as "auditory chaos" by individuals with CAPD.

Understanding Comorbidities

CAPD often coexists with ADD/ADHD, anxiety disorder, autism, dyslexia, sensory processing difficulties, speech and language delays, traumatic brain injuries, and/or visual processing challenges. CAPD can occur in gifted individuals as well as exist as an isolated condition. Whether CAPD exists as a comorbidity or an isolated condition, CAPD should be identified and properly managed.

Impacts of CAPD

CAPD can impact all areas of life including academic and work performance, relationships, participation in extracurricular activities, self-esteem, and overall well-being. Stress on the auditory system can affect how an individual  feels, their energy levels, and quality of life. Commonly reported behaviors can help determine if CAPD may exist. 

CAPD is Commonly Misunderstood

Individuals with CAPD are often misunderstood and told to "try harder." They may even be placed into categories that are incorrect such as lazy, unmotivated, rude, emotionally sensitive, and/or noncompliant.

Individuals with sensory challenges cannot try harder to ignore the feel of an itchy tag or wool sweater, just as an individual with CAPD cannot try harder to understand and focus.

An itchy tag on the back of a blue tee shirt

Client Testimonial

Dad lost ear filter. Mom cried for two days. Dad felt so bad he agreed to adopt a guinea pig. Daughter checked mailbox daily for new filter. Filter arrived. Mom cried again. Thank you Able Kids Team for all you have added to our lives!

- Parent from California

"Our children can be our greatest teachers if we are humble enough to receive their lessons." - Bryan McGill

If we listen to and observe our children, they will tell us everything we need to know about how they are impacted by their auditory environment. The classic behaviors associated with CAPD are easy to identify, if one understands what to look for. CAPD should be considered and investigated when there are concerns and indicators to do so.  

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