Central Auditory Processing Disorder Essentials

Central Auditory Processing Disorder, or CAPD, is a hearing disorder in which the trouble lies not with the ears, but with the brain. With Central Auditory Processing Disorder, your ears have no problem hearing sounds (especially the sounds associated with speech) properly, but something is affecting the brain’s ability to interpret these sounds. The disorder is thus characterized by a lack of coordination between the ears and the brain.

As many as 2 to 5 percent of school-age children are affected by CAPD including roughly half of all children that have been diagnosed with a learning disability. Children with CAPD often cannot discern the sounds of different words even when the words are spoken loud and clear. This inability to understand words often becomes worse in noisy environments, but is not as present in quiet environments.

CAPD is often difficult to detect, because when children’s hearing is tested in a quiet room, they can clearly hear the pure tones they hear through the testing equipment, and they similarly have no apparent problems hearing and interpreting speech in non-noisy environments. But even though their audiogram results may appear normal, children with CAPD often have difficulty locating where sounds are coming from, difficulty discerning the differences between two similar sounds, difficulty recognizing patterns of repetitive high and low sounds, and difficulty being able to hear more than one person speaking at the same time.

These symptoms may carry over into other areas of life, as the children struggle to cope with not being able to understand people speaking to them. For example, they may become easily distracted by sudden noises, have difficulty following directions, develop reading, spelling, and language difficulties, become disorganized and forgetful, or have trouble following conversations. When given standard hearing tests, these children appear to have normal hearing, so these symptoms are often confused with or mistaken for signs of other problems such as depression or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This misdiagnosis is further complicated by the fact that a child may in fact have ADHD or some other learning disorder and also have CAPD.

Properly detecting and diagnosing CAPD as eary in a child’s life as possible is crucial to avoid developmental delays both social and academic. Early diagnosis is key to ensuring that the condition is resolved, which is why it is important, if you have noticed any of the above symptoms in your children, to have their hearing professionally tested.

Detecting Indications of Hearing Loss in a Family Member or Loved One

Hearing loss can take many forms, and may occur either suddenly, due to injuries or trauma, or gradually, due to the aging process. Hearing loss may range from mild episodes of not being able to hear conversations correctly to extreme periods of being unable to hear at all, and can be either permanent or temporary. Moreover, a person might suffer a loss of hearing in either a single ear or both ears.

Probably the most commonly noted symptom of hearing loss is progressively becoming unable to hear and comprehend conversations properly. People’s speaking voices might seem to be at low volume or sound muffled . You may be able to hear people speaking, but not be able to differentiate specific words, especially if multiple people are speaking or the conversations are in environments with a lot of background noise.

Other usual signs of hearing loss include having to increase the volume on your television or radio, having a harder time hearing men’s voices than women’s, and not being able to differentiate sounds like ‘s’ and ‘th’ from one another. If you feel pain, tenderness, or itching in your ears, have periods of vertigo or dizziness, or hear a constant buzzing or ringing sound, these symptoms may also be indicators of hearing loss.

Because it generally arises gradually, many people with hearing loss are not aware of it. Or they may recognize it but exhibit “denial behaviors” to try to disguise or conceal their hearing loss from others. Examples of these types of symptoms include asking people to repeat themselves frequently, avoiding discussions and social situations, acting as if you’ve heard stuff that you really didn’t, and feelings of isolation or depression.

If these symptoms sound familiar to you, it is time to make an appointment with one of our hearing specialists. They can give you a hearing test to determine if you have indeed experienced hearing loss, and if so, can help you to do something about it.

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