Central Auditory Processing Disorder : Helping Your Child At Home

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A Central Auditory Processing Disorder Journey

Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) is a very real learning disability that occurs in children and adults. I know this because my daughter was diagnosed with it when she was in 4th grade. I had always known that there was something "not quite right" with her. I worked closely with her day care providers, teachers, and doctors since she was an infant, but was unable to get a diagnosis until Kenzie was ten years old. We lost a lot of time in helping her learn strategies to cope with her disability. Not only did she have issues with learning, but she also had issues socializing with other children her age. Kenzie knew that she was different than other kids and her CAPD isolated her from some of her peers.

I want to share with you the ways that I learned to help my daughter - as an advocate for her with her teachers, as a guide to help her stay on track with her studies, as a teacher to reinforce common ideas that she had problems retaining and as a friend who helped her realize her own strengths. We took the journey together and I now have a child in the 6th grade who made the honor roll and has giggling friends over to our house several times a week. Let me share our journey with you.

photo credits: angelatvs
What is Central Auditory Processing Disorder?
Katz, Stecker & Henderson (1992) described central auditory processing as "what we do with what we hear." In other words, it is the ability of the brain (i.e., the central nervous system) to process incoming auditory signals. The brain identifies sounds by analyzing their distinguishing physical characteristics frequency, intensity, and temporal features.

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not."
Dr. Seuss

The Beginning of the Journey

When Kenzie was one year old, I found myself in the unique position of not only being her parent, but also being the assistant director at the daycare center she attended. Because I was able to observe her with her teachers and her peers on a daily basis, by the time she was two, I began to suspect that developmentally, she may have some challenges.

At first, I was most concerned about her development in speech. She was misprouncing words and substituting letter sounds in even the simplest words. I scheduled a hearing test with her pediatrician, thinking that if there was a hearing loss, then there would be speech issues. She passed that test with flying colors, so I called in Birth to Three, a group that will come into a center and work with kids that are developmentally delayed. The worker tested Kenzie one afternoon and she found a speech issue, but in order to receive services the child must be deficient in more than one area, and Kenzie was fine in her motor skills and other testing areas.

Not sure, what to do, I decided to start working with Kenzie at home on her speech skills. I also tried to involve her in activities where she would be successful such as cooking, art activities and active backyard games. I thought as she built confidence that perhaps her speech skills would get better. I hoped and prayed that she was just a late bloomer and that by the time she started elementary school, everything would be fine.

Behaviors that May Indicate CAPD

Some of the more common behaviors that may be found in children with Central Auditory Processing Disorder are listed below. However, these behaviors are not only found in kids with CAPD, but can also be associated with other learning disabilities as well.

A child that has a hard time following multi-step directions (ex. go upstairs, wash your face, brush your teeth and get into bed)

A child that has trouble remembering spoken information

A child that has difficulty following long conversations

A child that has trouble with processing nonverbal information (ex. lack of music appreciation)

A child that has a hard time hearing in noisy situations (ex. cafeteria)

A child has difficulty understanding conversations on the telephone

A child who has trouble learning challenging vocabulary words or a foreign language

A child who struggles with reading and/or spelling

A child who has a hard time maintaining focus on an activity if other sounds are present

A child who has trouble in directing, dividing or sustaining their attention

A child who has a hard time taking notes

A child who has difficulty with organizational skills

A combination of any of these behaviors can indicate the presence of CAPD and the child should be scheduled for appropriate testing.

"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple."
Dr. Seuss

The Middle of the Road

By the time Kenzie started elementary school, I noticed that she had problems following directions, following long conversations, having conversations on the phone, and a hard time remembering spoken information. But these were casual observations, I didn’t have a checklist, because I didn’t know what I was looking for.

Kenzie breezed through kindergarten, but I wasn’t really suprised. The problems started when she was in first grade. I spoke with her teacher numerous times, and although we both agreed that there was something not quite right, neither one of us could figure out the problem. Kenzie entered the school’s special reading program, but we knew that it wasn’t just a reading issue.

Kenzie had problems with communication. Whether it was the spoken word or the written word, she just wasn’t understanding all of what was given to her. It was unfortunate because it started to affect almost everything that she did – from school work to life at home to her relationships with her peers.

I began to notice that Kenzie had some growing social issues. When her friends would come over to play, in pretend games, she would always take on the role of the baby. In that role, she would simply make crying noises and point at things that she wanted. As I watched, I realized that she was using very little language skills with her friends. In addition, she almost always refused to play any kind of board game (other than Memory, which was her favorite) because she had such a hard time learning to follow the rules of a new game.

At home, Kenzie was a picky eater who refused to try new foods. She was also extremely fussy about what clothes she wore. At the time, it was very frustrating, now I know that the reason that she was so stubborn in these areas was because these were the only areas of her life that she had control over. While her understanding of schoolwork, language and instructions were beyond her control, she could control the smaller things in her life and she did so with a very loud voice.
As she continued through school, Kenzie was still receiving special reading help, which was great, but her work in other subjects began to suffer as well. Math, which had always been her strongest subject, began giving her trouble when word problems were introduced. Many times she completed her assignments incorrectly simply because she didn’t follow the instructions correctly. Long term projects became a nightmare as they usually required her to think outside the box and plan ahead. Because her organizational skills were not strong, these kinds of projects gave her a lot of trouble.

I tried to do everthing possible to support Kenzie with her studies, to help steer her in the right direction without doing the work for her. At the same time I spent hours doing research and speaking with her teachers to try to figure out what to do to help Kenzie. I lay awake at night feeling helpless and dreading the future as I knew that the challenges were only going to get bigger for my daughter.

When Kenzie was in fourth grade, I requested another hearing test for her and our pediatrician referred us to a specialist. Although the specialist confirmed that her hearing was perfect in a standard hearing test, he listened to our story and suggested specialized testing for auditory processing.

We went to the testing facility which was over an hour away from our home. The tests took place on two different days and each testing day was four hours long. Kenzie was able to take a small snack break, but she was definitely worn out by the process. Some of the tests included, having her repeat words heard with background noise, having her hear a different word in each ear and repeating them back, having her listen to sound patterns and speech patterns and many others.

Within days, the results were in and Kenzie was diagnosed with Central Auditory Processing Disorder. Obviously, as a parent you are never thrilled to find out that your child has a learning challenge, but I was relieved. In my eyes, we could finally start moving forward and get Kenzie the help that she and I so desperately needed.

Learning Activities for CAPD Kids to Do At Home

There are some activities that you can do with your child at home to help them exercise their brain. These activities help children with CAPD to learn how to process information and learn success.

Follow a recipe together and make a delicous dish. Following the recipe teaches them to follow instructions and the final product gives them confidence.

Have your child learn to play a musical instrument. Music enforces the transfer of music from one side of the brain to the other.

Have our child help create a monthly calendar with all of the family events. This will help them with organizational skills.

Play “Find the Sound”. Hide a ticking clock or radio playing soft music and have your child find it. If you have a pool, encourage the game of “Marco Polo”.

Read together, having you and your child take turns reading every other paragraph.

Make a music video together where you work on the timing of the words and the actions.

Create a scavenger hunt. Following clues is great exercise for the brain.

"Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You."
Dr. Seuss

Not The End ... Just Where We Are Now

Many of your might be wondering why it took so long to obtain a diagnosis and get real help. The auditory specialist explained to me that it is ver difficult to obtain a diagnosis in children who are under 9 years old, simply because they cannot complete the test needed for an assessment.

Once we had the diagnosis, we contacted Kenzie’s school and immediately had a whole team on board to help make a plan for her educational future. She was placed with a speech and hearing therapist as well as her already existing reading specialist. There were provisions made in her classroom to make it easier for her process the information given to her in class. Once we knew exactly what we were dealing with, the teachers and support staff bent over backwards to help us. In addition, Kenzie had access to the psychologist who helped her close the gap between her and her peers.

We were given strategies to help Kenzie get organized with her schoolwork by creating lists and keeping calendars that helped her stay on task. They encouraged her to take responsibility for herself and her progress, but we made it as fun as possible for her.

In the school environment, she is given a little bit of extra time for any tests that involve a lot of language such as social studies or language arts. We alternate her reading assignments with hard copy books and audio books, so she is given the information in two different ways. Any assignment that she brings home that can be translated into an experiment or a picture, we do it in that fashion and then translate it back into words. For example, if Kenzie is learning about condensation and evaporation, we boil a pot of water to actually show her what happens as opposed to her trying to read the concept from a book. We have learned, that when possible, Kenzie needs hands on learning and as a parent, I try to provide as much of that as possible for her to reinforce what she learns at school.

Today, Kenzie is in 6th grade. She made the honor roll for the first two semesters and she has a ton of friends that she can communicate with verbally. She still has her challenges – phone conversations are extremely difficult for her, but at least she is a genius texter! She still has a hard time understanding the subtlties of conversations, for example, she can’t detect sarcasm. She will probably always struggle a bit in school, but she has tools to make it easier and she knows that she can ask for extra help, she knows that she has a condition that makes it a little bit harder for her and she is ok with that. Kenzie has shown me that she is not ready to give up and I will always be there to support her in everything that she chooses to do.

Moving Forward

Kenzie and I took the journey together. It was frustrating, maddening and frightening, but without each other, we would not have made any progress. Having a child with CAPD is challenging at times, but it is also very rewarding. And I am sure that Kenzie would say that not only having CAPD is challenging, but having a mom that talks to your teachers once a week is challenging as well.

As a side note, I will tell you that our journey was not easy – there were tears, there was frustration, there were times when both of were ready to give up. Kenzie’s older sister is in the Gifted and Talented program at school and I am sure that at times Kenzie resented her sister’s achievements and ease in school. As a parent, this was especially tough, I did not want to diminish her sister’s achievements, nor did I want Kenzie to feel bad about not having the same kind of success. We learned to celebrate the greatness of both children, no matter how big or small to make both of them feel important.

I’m not a doctor or a specialist or a teacher, but I am a parent who has gone through this process and I want to let you know that if you are facing a similar challenge, there is light at the end of the tunnel. There are tools and there is help out there. Education of yourself as a parent is the second best thing that you can do to help our child. The first best thing you can do is to never give up and keep the lines of communication open.

"Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand."
Chinese proverb

More Information on Central Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory Processing Disorder
Auditory processing disorder (APD) is often misunderstood because it can be confused with certain learning disabilities and ADHD. Read this article to learn more about this disorder.
Auditory Processing Disorders (APD) in Children
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Making effective communication, a human right, accessible and achievable for all.
Central Auditory Processing Disorders
Processing Disorders - An Overview of Assessment and Management
PracticesBy Mignon M. Schminky and Jane A. Baran
Living and Working with a Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) | LD Topics | LD OnLine
LD OnLine is the leading website on learning disabilities, learning disorders and differences. Parents and teachers of learning disabled children will find authoritative guidance on attention deficit disorder, ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, dysnomia, reading difficulties, speech and r
Central Auditory Processing Disorder - Learning Disabilities Association of America
The Learning Disabilities Association of America helps people with learning disabilities, their parents, teachers and other professionals. We provide support on the national, state and local levels by providing cutting edge information, practical solutions, and a comprehensive network of resources.

Reader Comments

Feel free to share your experiences with CAPD or other learning disabilities. We can all learn from one another.
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  • mikebeavis Jan 12, 2014 @ 9:26 pm
    Great lens. This is a great resource and wealth of information for anyone working special education. Good work!
  • lollyj Jan 12, 2014 @ 12:14 pm
    Excellent lens with valuable info. Well done!! Congrats on the well-deserved LOTD.
  • lollyj Jan 12, 2014 @ 12:14 pm
    Excellent lens with valuable info. Well done!! Congrats on the well-deserved LOTD.
  • aesta1 Jan 12, 2014 @ 4:46 am
    I am glad many of these disabilities are now given focus.
  • TeacherPat Jan 11, 2014 @ 11:39 pm
    What a great lens! As a former teacher I've had many experiences with children with learning disabilities. Your daughter is lucky to have such a supportive, proactive parent.
  • favored1 Jan 11, 2014 @ 4:36 pm
    It makes the entire process easier for the child/parent/teacher when they all work together. Many don't realize that CAPD isn't something they just have at home, and without the parent's help it is almost impossible for teacher's to help a child. Most of my students that have parents that are willing to work with me see greater success with their child and better social interaction. I'm so glad that you are an involved parent and shared this with others. I can appreciate Kenzie's struggle at times, but tell her she's doing great!
  • BunnyFabulous Jan 11, 2014 @ 4:34 pm
    What a fantastic lens! Thank you for sharing your family's story in such a relational, meaningful way so we can understand at least a bit of your journey and relate to other people with central auditory processing disorder. One of my friends has been wondering if her son may have this as well; I'll pass it along to her.
  • Charlotte_Realtor Jan 11, 2014 @ 3:24 pm
    Congratulations on LOTD - very detailed information for such a challenging disability.
  • flora-crew Jan 11, 2014 @ 3:21 pm
    Wow, that's interesting. I can see why you were relieved to have a name for the problem. Now you don't face a problem-with-no-name! Great lens too!
  • nightcats Jan 11, 2014 @ 3:13 pm
    I have a couple of learning disabilities myself, so I can sympathize with your daughter. It is fortunate she was diagnosed at an early age and that you were able to provide effective strategies for dealing with the condition. This is a highly informative lens and its bound to help a lot of people who have similar disabilities or who are parents of a child with similar disabilities.
  • Steve_Kaye Jan 11, 2014 @ 2:01 pm
    This type of challenge can be very difficult because, as you described, it is almost impossible to find out what is happening. Many parents can note that: There may be disabilities lurking in a child's behavior that will take many tests to uncover. Thank you for publishing this lens. I'm sure this will help many.
  • MarcellaCarlton Jan 11, 2014 @ 1:54 pm
    Thank you for sharing your frustrations and victories with a young woman that you obviously love so much. I wish you well.
  • ItayasDesigns Jan 11, 2014 @ 1:01 pm
    I'm so glad that your daughter has you to help guide her throughout her life. I'm also very glad that you discovered what course of action to take moving forward. Thank you for this article and all its resources. :)
  • Vantis Jan 11, 2014 @ 12:17 pm
    Wonderful lens, just wonderful.
  • serendipity831 Jan 11, 2014 @ 10:22 am
    Great lens! Thanks much for sharing Kenzie's story with us.
  • StephenJParkin Jan 11, 2014 @ 10:19 am
    This is so brave of you to share, but these problems do beset us all and others need to know they are not alone. Well done and a great LOTD
  • Titia Jan 11, 2014 @ 10:03 am
    Congrats on a well deserved LOTD. Great and interesting story of an illness I didn't know it had a name. Wishing you all the best for Kenzie's future achievements.
  • grammieo Jan 11, 2014 @ 9:52 am
    You have written a very powerful example of being your child's life-line when she really needed an advocate. Congratulations on your steadfastness and your daughter is lucky that she has such a loving mother, that doesn't give up! Thank you for shedding some light on something that not everyone knows about!
  • christy_rose Jan 11, 2014 @ 9:48 am
    This is a terrific article and I know it will help many mothers who are going through the same thing. I can relate to your struggles, I have a son that has been diagnosed with multiple learning disabilities. He has many of the same traits as your daughter. Even though I knew something was very wrong by the time he was in grade two, it took the school another three years before they decided to put him on the waiting list to be tested. They told me the list was long and since he wasn't disruptive in the classroom he would likely be tested in grade 10 or 11. I couldn't believe it. I ended up paying for private testing at a rate of $215 per hour, but in the end he finally got the special help he needed in school when he was in grade six. He's now in grade 12 and doing great. It's a tough road to travel and it's important for parents to educate themselves. Thanks for sharing your daughter's story and I'm glad she's doing well!
  • KathyT Jan 11, 2014 @ 9:28 am
    Wow, Angela... I don't even HAVE kids of my own, and I was extremely drawn into your exceptionally well written and organized lens. I learned a great deal, here. Beautifully presented, and an absolute God-send to other concerned parents who will certainly find this piece, and gain hope for their own kids. Congratulations on this terrific LOTD. Love, Kath
  • d-artist Jan 11, 2014 @ 9:16 am
    Congratulations on LOTD! Very well written and very interesting! Kenzie is blessed to have a mother such as you...give Kenzie a Hug for me.
  • esmonaco Jan 11, 2014 @ 8:27 am
    What a wonderful story, as you stayed the course of a difficult journey I'm glad to see that you never gave up. I'm also impressed with all the help you recieved from the school. Your kids have an amazing mother, Congratulations on LOTD Very Well Deserved!
  • RenaissanceWoman2010 Jan 11, 2014 @ 8:22 am
    Thank heavens you were in a position to notice the challenges and that you were so determined to find positive ways to address Kenzie's processing needs. I learned a great deal here. I wish you both continuing positive results on your journey. Congratulations on your award for this article.
  • NausetViews Jan 11, 2014 @ 8:20 am
    What an inspiring story. As a mother of a young child in Early Intervention, I can relate to so much of your story. It's nice to hear that your daughter is doing so well and it gives me great hope for what's ahead for our family. And kudos to you for being such a strong advocate for your daughter. She is very lucky :)
  • Merrci Jan 11, 2014 @ 7:24 am
    What a great lens! Congrats on LotD. It's such good information that needs to be shared. Hopefully it will help others who are noticing similar things prior to the testing age. The journey couldn't have been easy, but it's impressive that you have found so many ways to help her succeed! Good job!!!
  • RoadMonkey Jan 11, 2014 @ 7:21 am
    Very interesting lens and very important for any parent who feels their child may have difficulties that have not been recognised.
  • LynnKK Jan 06, 2014 @ 5:54 am
    Thanks for sharing this.
  • tonyleather Dec 06, 2013 @ 1:35 am
    This is a terrific lens about what must have been a difficult time for any mother. Thanks so much for sharing it with us!
  • girlfriendfactory Oct 07, 2013 @ 9:30 pm
    My goodness, after years of doctors, therapists, speech therapists and neurologists who have been less than helpful for my son who is bipolar and ADHD, I now think I may have an answer. How you described your daughter is like reading about my son. I finally pulled him out of school because they were making things worse! Thank you for giving me another direction to investigate! Best of luck on your continued pursuits with Kenzie!
  • angelatvs Jan 11, 2014 @ 1:48 am
    Good luck with your challenges - there is light at the end of the tunnel!
  • partybuzz Oct 05, 2013 @ 9:36 am
    Thanks for sharing this.
  • lhbeninger Oct 04, 2013 @ 3:35 pm
    This is a beautiful and inspiring lens. Kenzie is a lucky girl (and it appears that you think yourself a lucky parent, too - which is why this is so inspiring). Thank you.
  • angelatvs Jan 11, 2014 @ 1:46 am
    I consider myself extremely lucky to have taken this journey. :)
  • Jun 09, 2013 @ 1:32 am
    I sure hope they soon have testing for younger children to accurately diagnose auditory processing disorder sooner so programs can be implemented sooner for a better life experience for children. Your story will help many as they proceed along this road of getting the best services for their children....wishing you all the best as you continue your own journey. :)
  • pickyshopper Apr 03, 2013 @ 12:27 am
    I homeschool 2 grandchildren, grades 5 and 7 because of high distractibility issues. Although they don't have Aspergers or ADD/ADHD per se, they still have a difficult time in the traditional classroom setting due to their zero tolerance to outside interferences when they're working. It's great to have a focus lens on a topic such as this; thanks for the time you took to put this lens together for us.
  • angelatvs Apr 30, 2013 @ 9:22 pm
    Wow, homeschooling two grandchildren must be challenging - good for you! Enjoy spending time with them each day, it must be wonderful to be such a big part of their lives!
  • angelatvs Apr 30, 2013 @ 9:22 pm
    Wow, homeschooling two grandchildren must be challenging - good for you! Enjoy spending time with them each day, it must be wonderful to be such a big part of their lives!
  • victoriuh Mar 21, 2013 @ 9:39 am
    Excellent explanation and a great story. I just found out my son has autism, so I understand the relief of a diagnosis that explains things and puts you on a path.
  • angelatvs Apr 30, 2013 @ 9:23 pm
    It certainly does... good luck with your journey, I am sure it will go well.

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