Properly diagnosing Central Auditory Processing Disorder, or CAPD, is hard for a number of reasons. The problem is not because the child can’t hear words and phrases being directed at them, but because their brains have an inability to process the words and grasp them, which means that standard hearing tests do not always detect CAPD. Furthermore, children who have CAPD often establish coping mechanisms to hide or disguise their condition; they cannot truly comprehend the words people are speaking, but they learn to read facial expressions or their lips to pretend to understand.
These particular characteristics of CAPD also make therapy for the condition challenging, because any person trying to improve the child’s speech understanding must continuously remain cognizant of them and look for ways to work around them. Unfortunately there is no generally accepted cure or treatment for CAPD which works consistently across all children. Every therapy plan is highly individualized and crafted based on the childs’ limitations and capabilities. With that being said, there are a variety of therapy approaches that can considerably enhance the developmental abilities of kids with Central Auditory Processing Disorder.
These methodologies are usually described using three broad categories: direct treatment, compensatory strategies and environmental change.
Compensatory Strategies – Techniques that focus on helping the CAPD learners to enhance their language, problem-solving, memory and attention skills are generally referred to as compensatory strategies. The focus of the compensatory strategies is to teach skills that generally improve academic success while also training CAPD learners to take responsibility for their own academic progress. Sessions designed to enhance these types of skills generally consist of “active listening” drills or solving word problems.
Direct Treatment – Direct treatment means the use of 1-on-1 sessions and computer-aided learning programs to capitalize on the brain’s inherent plasticity, its ability to transform itself, and construct new ways of thinking and processing. Software and games such as the “Simon” game by Hasbro or the “Fast ForWord” software from Scientific Education are used as treatment tools. These exercises help learners enhance discrimination, ordering and processing of auditory information. Some specialists use dichotic training to cultivate the childrens’ ability to hear many sounds in different ears and process them correctly, while others use Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s “Earobics” program to boost phonological awareness.
Environmental Change – Altering the child’s learning environment can help because it is generally accepted that ambient noise disrupts their capacity to comprehend speech. Therefore employing acoustic tiles, curtains or wall hangings to lessen environmental noise may be helpful. Increasing the volume of selective voices in the classroom can also be helpful; the teacher dons a microphone and the CAPD pupil puts on a small receiver that boosts the teacher’s voice to make it more distinct from other sounds or speakers. One more environmental modification is improved lighting. A well lit face is a lot easier for a person with CAPD to “read” for comprehension clues.
So if your child is identified as having Central Auditory Processing Disorder, rest easy knowing that there are therapies available to address it, but take into consideration that early and accurate diagnosis is vital to successful treatment. If there is a way we can help with this, please get in touch. Let us add our many years of hearing experience and relationships with local Central Auditory Processing Disorder experts to helping your child learn properly.