What is CAPD?

Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) – also known as Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) – is an umbrella term for a variety of disorders that result in a breakdown in the hearing process.

In short, our brain cannot make sense of what our ears hear because the auditory signal is distorted in some way. As a result, one of the biggest problems experienced by individuals with CAPD is difficulty listening in background noise. For children, this generally means problems adequately understanding the teacher in the presence of competing classroom sounds.

What causes CAPD?

Central Auditory processing disorder can be congenital (from birth) or acquired. It may result from prolonged middle ear infections and head injuries that cause difficulties with the central nervous system, affecting the processing of auditory information. The underlying causes of APD however remain unknown.

What are the characteristics of people with CAPD?

People with CAPD struggle with one or more of the following:

  • Sound localization

It may be difficult for a CAPD sufferer to say whether a sound is coming from the left, the right, or the centre.

  • Sound discrimination

It may be difficult for them to hear the difference between pat / bat / fat / hat.

  • Pattern recognition

It may be difficult for them to hear the different emphasis between sentences

  • Temporal aspects of listening

It may be difficult for CAPD sufferers to hear the difference between lemonade and menolade, star and tsar, reserve and reverse etc.

  • Speech understanding in the presence of background noise 

Although in quiet situations CAPD sufferers usually have no problems, background noise can pose a real challenge. This problem can, for example, hinder learning in school, and/or cause sufferers difficulties in social and/or group situations.

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