Understanding Central Auditory Processing Disorders (CAPD)

A Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD or APD) is a ‘glitch’ in the brain’s ability to process or understand sounds and words.     In other words, it is “what the brain does with what the ears hear” (Jack Katz, 1994)

When we talk about “auditory processing”, we are referring to the way in which your brain recognizes and interprets sounds.

The ability to develop the skill of recognizing minute and distinct differences in speech sounds accurately is important for speech and language development, and this, in turn, becomes critical for learning to read and write.

To get an idea of what it is like to have a central auditory processing disorder, imagine that you are in a noisy room, such as a classroom. The teacher is speaking, but you find it very hard to follow what she is saying because of the background noise. Because of this, you decide to focus instead on drawing on your paper.

When the teacher calls your name several times, you don’t hear her. Finally, she comes and touches your shoulder and says your name. You look up, only to realize that everyone in the room has been trying to get your attention verbally.

This is just one example of what it may be like to have an auditory processing disorder. It can be frustrating and the person with the disorder has no control over their ability or inability to process auditory signals in certain situations.