Did you know central auditory processing disorder affects around 5% of school-aged children? Children with this disorder struggle to process speech and distinguish individual sounds. Unrelated to hearing loss, this disorder can be quite challenging to understand, both for parents trying to help their child and children trying to understand the sounds around them. To ensure your child receives the best care, here are 12 ways to help your child at school and home.
What Is Central Auditory Processing Disorder?
Also known as auditory processing disorder, central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) occurs when there is a disruption in how the central nervous system processes sound and information through listening. A child may struggle to understand, pay attention, and remember auditory information. Teachers and parents often misinterpret this as a hearing problem, but often, the child can hear the sound but struggles to process it.
Children with CAPD experiences difficulties learning in classrooms with consistent background noise and feel insecure asking for information to be repeated. In an attempt to blend in, children may pretend they understand but become increasingly lost as they try to hide what is happening. Many don’t recognize they have a problem with sound processing and experience a wave of emotions. Some feel angry, misunderstood, withdrawn, bored, and restless. As a result, many schools, parents, and counselors misdiagnose CAPD as ADHD.
14 Symptoms of Central Auditory Processing Disorder
Like many other disorders, symptoms range from mild to severe and depend on the individual. Without seeing an audiologist or someone who specializes in treating hearing and balance problems, you won’t know for certain if your child has CAPD. But here is a list of signs and symptoms to watch out for to help your child receive the support they deserve;
- Noticeable speech delays
- Asks for repeated clarification
- Consistent articulation errors
- Problems conducting conversations
- Struggles to hear with background noise
- Problems with reading and spelling
- Difficulty following directions
- Difficulty taking notes
- Appears to be easily distracted
- Difficulty understanding verbal instruction
- Struggles to identify separate word sounds
- Higher grades for nonverbal tasks
- Difficulty maintaining attention
- Difficulty understanding muffled, fast, or distorted speech
What Causes Central Auditory Processing Disorder?
Researchers are still trying to understand what causes CAPD, but a few risk factors or potential explanations are;
- An inherited neurological disorder
- Chronic ear infections during infancy
- Premature birth, low weight, or head injury
7 Ways to Help a Child with CAPD at School
1. Communicate with teachers
Reach out to teachers and schedule a meeting to ensure they understand your child’s auditory challenges. Having this conversation will enable your teacher to take appropriate action if your child is experiencing any problems and will provide a better peer and educational experience.
2. Develop a plan
Before the school year begins, work with your child to create a list of challenging situations and a list of helpful solutions. When you incorporate your child in understanding their CAPD, it fosters independence, self-advocacy and provides opportunities to create solutions.
3. Use multisensory techniques
Children with central auditory processing disorder need innovative ways to learn the material. When you teach using more than one sense, it provides additional ways to produce long-term memories. For example, build words with blocks, legos, or puzzle pieces – this allows them to feel the word instead of just seeing it. Use letter tiles and flashcards for skills, words, and phonetics when applicable.
4.Encourage phonological awareness
Breaking words into discriminated phonetic sounds helps children recognize the individual sounds for each letter. For example, to separate syllables in the word butterfly, use your fingers to count each syllable and have the child play along.
5. Strategic seating
Use strategic seating to place the student within an optimal range to the teacher. This tip helps to reduce sound and sight distractions and allows them to benefit from both auditory and visual information cues.
6. Recording and writing down lessons
Recording lessons improves access to speech by reviewing challenging material and situations where your child may feel uncomfortable or embarrassed to ask the teacher for clarification. Encouraging students to write down assignments will also promote organization and confidence in class.
7. FM Systems
Children who experience difficulties processing, integrating, and organizing auditory information could benefit from an FM system. They enhance hearing aids and reduce the amount of background noise. An audiologist would make the recommendation and encourage school use if your child requires additional auditorial support.
7 Ways to Help a Child with CAPD at Home
1. Rephrase questions
When your child responds for clarification, rephrase your question or statement instead of repeating what you said in a louder voice. Certain sounds, sentences, and word combinations may be difficult to process. Rephrasing allows your child to understand the meaning behind your verbal instruction.
2. Speak slowly
Take the time when communicating with your child. Slow down your words, enunciate clearly, and pause as you give instructions. Pausing allows your child to process and separate sounds.
3. Provide positive feedback
Many children with central auditory processing disorder lack self-confidence from comparison with their peers and performance. Boost their self-esteem, provide positive feedback, and reinforce learning.
4. Limit distractions
Create a quiet place for your child to complete homework. Eliminating distractions with proper insulation will foster processing, memory, and focus.
5. Shorter sentences
Try to limit explanations and lengthy directions. For example, if you want your child to clean their room, try to give quick and concise instructions instead of multiple commands at once. Emphasizing keywords is also encouraged.
6. Prioritize visual instructions
If your child is struggling to understand you, always make sure your mouth is visible when speaking. Watching your mouth will prevent confusing similar-sounding words.
7. Auditory testing
Children with central auditory processing disorder will benefit from seeing an audiologist to address the cause of their listening and learning difficulties. While awareness of CAPD has increased, many educators and healthcare professionals lack a clear understanding of its impact, procedures, and treatment. Taking this step forward will rule out any confusion and tremendously benefit your child’s education and socialization.
Adopting skills, exercises, and structures discussed in this article, both at school and home, will make your child feel more confident and successful.
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