Understanding Signs Of Central Auditory Processing Disorder In Young Children

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Central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) is a processing disorder that affects a child's ability to comprehend the sounds they hear. This condition may affect around three to four percent of the population. While the ears and brain work together normally to help with cognitively processing information derived from sounds, children with CAPD struggle with this process. The condition is not always diagnosed until a child gets old enough to go to school, as the diagnostic tests are designed for school-aged children. However, there can be signs of CAPD earlier in childhood that parents should be on the lookout for to discuss with a pediatrician. Take a look at a few common signs of CAPD in younger children. 

The child seems confused by words that sound similar 

When a child begins to speak or show word comprehension, some confusion with words that sound the same is normal. However, these brief periods of lacking comprehension should pass as the child gets more familiar with the different sounds. If your child continually gets confused by words that have a similar phonetic sound, this could be a sign of CAPD. For example, a few words that could be confusing to a child with CAPD could be: 

Even though these words are very different with hard vowel sounds included, a child with CAPD may only recognize similar-sounding parts of words. For example, the short "o" sound in water and bottle may sound alike. And, the lack of recognizing the hard consonants could cause the words to sound similar to a child without adequate auditory processing capabilities. 

The child seems overwhelmed in a noisy setting 

Imagine being in a room with several types of noises taking place. This could involve several people talking, a dog barking in the background, a television making noise, and someone's phone ringing. Normally, the brain is able to identify these sounds individually, process what they are, and prevent the individual from feeling overwhelmed. However, a child with CAPD may not have the ability to process all of these sounds, so the brain works overtime to try to understand everything going on in the environment. This can lead to a young child experiencing things like meltdowns or tantrums in a noisy environment on a regular basis. 

The child experiences delays in speech development 

Delays in speech development for a child that has CAPD are to be expected. Because the child is not understanding or processing the sounds of words they hear, they have a difficult time committing those words to memory. For example, think of hearing the word "ball" every day but never fully being able to associate that sound with a mental image of the object. This can cause noticeable delays in speech development. 

For more information, contact a local clinic, like Audiology Services.