Central Auditory Processing Disorder, or CAPD, is a complex disorder to diagnose correctly for many good reasons. The disorder is not because the children cannot hear words and phrases being spoken to them, but because their brains have an inability to process the words and understand their meaning, which means that conventional hearing tests do not always detect CAPD. Also, kids who have CAPD frequently acquire coping mechanisms to hide or mask their condition; they cannot truly comprehend the words people are speaking, yet they learn to read facial expressions or their lips to pretend to understand.
These characteristics of CAPD also make treatment of the condition challenging, because any person working to improve the child’s ability to understand speech must continuously remain cognizant of them and find ways to work around them. There is presently no generally accepted cure for Central Auditory Processing Disorder, and therapy for the disorder must of necessity be personalized and fine-tuned to the capabilities and limits of each CAPD patient. Having said that, there are a number of therapy approaches that can significantly improve the learning abilities of children with Central Auditory Processing Disorder.
There are three major categories of CAPD treatments – compensatory strategies, direct treatment and environmental change.
- Environmental Change – Because ambient noise greatly hampers a person with CAPD’s ability to process language, lowering the level of environmental noise by way of soundproofing (acoustic tiles, wall hangings and curtains) may help. In certain classrooms, the instructors wear a microphone and the CAPD pupils wear small receivers, so that the instructor’s voice is amplified and clarified, making it distinct from other sounds or voices. One more environmental change is better lighting. A well lit face is easier for a person with CAPD to read for comprehension clues.
- Direct Treatment – One-on-one therapy sessions and computer-aided learning fall under the category of direct treatment. These techniques make use of the brain’s natural plasticity and capacity to construct new neurological pathways and capabilities. These treatment methods typically include, in therapy sessions, in the classroom or at home, the use of the “Simon” game by Hasbro or Scientific Education’s “Fast ForWord” software to help pupils to enhance the sequencing, discrimination, and processing of acoustic inputs. Some direct Central Auditory Processing Disorder therapy uses dichotic training which trains the brain on hearing multiple sounds in different ears and analyzing the combined information accurately. “Earobics”, an instructional software program by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is also used by some specialists to develop phonological awareness.
- Compensatory Strategies – The group of strategies including attention, memory, problem-solving and language improvement skills is called compensatory strategies. The main focus of the compensatory strategies is to coach skills that generally enhance learning success while also training CAPD learners to take responsibility for their own learning. Such strategies frequently include sessions of active listening and activities or games based on the solving of word problems.
So treatments are available if your child is diagnosed with CAPD, but remember that the initial step is diagnosing the disorder, and doing so as early as possible. 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 specialists for the very best Central Auditory Processing Disorder diagnostic and treatment choices.