Central Auditory Processing Disorder is a hearing problem thought to affect about 5% of school-aged children in Australia. It can also affect adults with similar symptoms as children.
Central Auditory Processing is an umbrella term that refers to how well our brains and ears use auditory information to inform us about the sounds in our world. This process involves a wide range of different skills that are interdependent on each other (such as cognition, memory, attention, and language skills) boils down to how well the ear talks to the brain and how well the brain understands what the ear tells it.
If the brains auditory processing system isn’t working properly, we can have trouble picking up important sounds and filter out surrounding noise. If that happens we will have trouble filling in the gaps of what we have heard and making sense of and comprehending sounds around us.
It’s important to note what CAPD isn’t. It isn’t higher order issues such as autism or ADHD or a cognitive or language disorder. While these disorders in themselves can display similar symptoms as CAPD such as having trouble listening, understanding or remembering these issues are unrelated to CAPD as in those cases the brain’s ability to process the sounds it hears is intact. It is other issues in these cases that causes the difficulties.
Most CAPD testing and research predominately focuses on children, but CAPD can affect adults as well. For older adults CAPD is often related to sensorineural hearing loss and again presents itself primarily when in an environment with a lot of background or environmental noise. In these environments, it becomes increasingly difficult to listen and pay attention to conversation or speech. Adults can, like children, become fatigued in these situations and withdraw from the social interaction.
If there are symptoms or signs that someone could have a CAPD it is important to diagnose it or rule it out to ensure the appropriate treatment and actions can be taken. Untreated CAPD in children can lead to shortcomings in academic performance and social integration with their peers.
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