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What is an auditory processing disorder?

A Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) refers to a child who has normal hearing acuity but has difficulty processing spoken language. A child with auditory processing problems may be described by teachers as being inattentive, shy, restless, fidgety or “spacey”. They may have difficulty rhyming, keeping a melody, or their speech may lack flow or rhythm.

These children may have difficulty in discriminating sounds in words, auditory recognition, listening to speech in noise, understanding rapid speech, auditory memory, and auditory sequencing. They often have difficulty hearing the very slight differences between speech sounds that are similar such as /p/ and b/ or /s/ and /z/. These difficulties may result in the child having difficulty following directions, listening to stories, reading, and spelling.

In addition to being evaluated by a Speech Language Pathologist, an Audiologist specializing in pediatric CAPD should diagnose the disorder. Special recommendations may need to be made for the classroom teacher and home environment such as sitting near the teacher. Some children do better in a quiet environment though when background noise is added (noisy classroom, party, television, or stereo), their ability to process speech is disrupted.

Strategies to assist the child with auditory processing difficulties include:

  • simplify directions

  • use a slower rate of speaking

  • gain the child’s attention prior to speaking

  • use visual aids

  • summarize or paraphrase information

  • Use questions to clarify that information has been processed.

  • Encourage the child to use strategies to gain missed information such as asking questions or looking around at their peers for cues.

  • It also may be necessary to have a note-taker assigned in later grades to assist in note-taking and listening activities.

  • Preferential seating, including away from noisy heating systems.

A Speech and Language Pathologist can help treat the specific difficulties that are present for your child as well as possibly recommend the use of an amplification devise for the classroom or individual use with the guidance of an audiologist.


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