There are a variety of reasons why Central Auditory Processing Disorder, abbreviated CAPD, is difficult to diagnose correctly. First, the problem is not grounded in the ears’ inability to pick up sounds, specifically speech, but on the brain’s inability to interpret and process them accurately; this fact can confound standard hearing tests that measure kids’ ability to hear clicks. Second, children with CAPD tend to develop coping behaviors which conceal their predicament, for example watching speakers’ expressions or reading lips to obtain clues to help them understand what is being said.
The identical traits that make Central Auditory Processing Disorder tough to identify also make it complicated to treat; anyone treating a child with CAPD must keep these characteristics in mind at all times. Unfortunately there is no definitive cure or treatment for CAPD that works consistently across all kids. Each and every therapy plan is individualized and fine-tuned based on the patients’ limitations and capabilities. That said, there are a variety of treatment methodologies that can significantly enhance the learning abilities of children with Central Auditory Processing Disorder.
There are three major categories of Central Auditory Processing Disorder treatments: compensatory strategies, direct treatment and environmental change.
- Direct Treatment – Direct treatment refers to the use of one-on-one therapy sessions and computer-aided learning programs to make the most of the brain’s inherent plasticity, its capacity 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 therapy resources. These exercises help students enhance sequencing, discrimination and processing of auditory inputs. Some therapists use dichotic training to cultivate the kids’ ability to hear many sounds in different ears and process them the right way, while others use the “Earobics” program by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to increase an awareness of phonemes.
- Compensatory Strategies – Techniques that focus on helping the CAPD learners to enhance their language, problem-solving, attention and memory skills are commonly referred to as compensatory strategies. The main focus of these sorts of training are to coach children both to take responsibility for their own learning success, and to give them the improved techniques and skills they need to thrive. Strategies and techniques in this category include drills in solving word problems and active listening.
- Environmental Change – Because ambient noise drastically hampers an individual with CAPD’s ability to comprehend speech, reducing the amount of environmental noise by means of soundproofing, such as acoustic tiles, wall hangings and curtains, will help. Amplifying voices in the classroom is also effective; the teacher wears a microphone and the CAPD student wears a small receiver that raises the instructor’s voice to make it more distinguishable from other speakers or sounds. Even better lighting may help, because a dimly lit speaker’s face is not as easy to “read” for hints as a fully lit speaker’s face.
Fortunately there are treatment possibilities for kids with CAPD. Having said that, early and accurate diagnosis is crucial to the success of most of these strategies. Also remember that our professional hearing experts are here to assist you in any way that they can and to point you to other respected area experts for the very best CAPD diagnostic and treatment options.