What is CAPD?

Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) is colloquially referred to as a “listening disorder”. It should not be confused with a hearing loss that refers to a loss of acuity as a result of ear pathology. CAPD is a disorder of the auditory centres in the brain. There is a deficit in the way auditory information is being processed or interpreted by the brain. One way to describe auditory processing is “what we do with what we hear”.

CAPD is a complex disorder.  It can arise as part of a neurological or disease process such as head injuries, tumours, degenerative disorders, viral infections, surgical compromise, hyperbilirubinemia, concussions and hereditary factors.   It can also co-exist with other disorders such as attention deficit disorder, speech and language delays, learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, pervasive developmental disorder, sensory integration disorder, visual perceptual deficits and hearing loss.

Central auditory processing is a complex set of skills. It is not surprising that an individual who has difficulties with central auditory processing can have difficulty in a wide variety of areas. CAPD may be manifested in one or more of the following symptoms:

  • has difficulty understanding speech in noisy situations
  • has trouble hearing in groups
  • has trouble listening
  • has a short attention span, is easily distracted
  • becomes anxious or stressed when required to listen
  • does not always answer when called
  • has difficulty following complex, multi-step directions
  • may have an unusual sensitivity to loud sounds
  • seems to hear, but not understand what people say
  • has trouble remembering what was said
  • has poor speech or language skills
  • has poor reading or phonics skills
  • has poor spelling skills
  • different scores on verbal and motor skills sections of IQ tests
  • is disorganized
  • has poor peer relations
  • has poor self-esteem

If someone you are concerned about displays any of these characteristics, it does not automatically mean he or she has CAPD. There are other disorders that also have similar characteristics. Therefore, special auditory processing testing is essential for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

If you or someone you care about exhibits these signs, contact your audiologist or speech-language pathologist, or ask us about our qualified service providers.