How Do Kids Process Language and What Can We Do To Help?

What is Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)? An Auditory deficit that is not the result of other higher-order cognitive, language, or related disorders. It is a disorder in which the brain has a hard time processing sounds, but not a problem hearing the sounds.

How Is it Diagnosed? It's diagnosed using a battery of auditory tests, administered under controlled conditions

  • Multidisciplinary Approach - Although an audiologist will administer testing and make the diagnosis of CAPD; anyone can observe and report weaknesses
    • Parent
    • Teacher
    • Speech-language pathologist
    • Psychologist 
    • Pediatrician
    • Audiologist*

Auditory Processing Skills and What Weaknesses Will Look Like:

  • Localization: won’t be able to determine where sound is coming from
  • Auditory Discrimination: difficulty with spelling, reading; may have articulation difficulties that persist longer than they should
  • Figure/Ground: unable to distinguish which sounds are coming from where and which one exactly they should be listening to; hard time listening to a teacher when there is background noise; and easily distractible 
    • Selective Listening 
    • Sound-in-Noise
  • Temporal Processing: may frequently ask “what?” or “huh?”; need information repeated, have a hard time with multi-step directions; slow or delayed responses to verbal instructions; and hard time understanding someone who is talking quickly
  • Auditory Attention: seem easily distracted or bored when conversations or activities do not include visuals; difficulty following verbal multi-step directions
  • Auditory Closure: difficult time with phone conversations; can’t predict spoken messages if unable to hear the whole part
  • Auditory Memory: difficult time with phone conversations; can’t predict spoken messages if unable to hear the whole part

What Can We Do?

  • No 'one size fits all' treatment method
  • Treatments are individualized and deficit specific

Treatment Focuses on Three Primary Areas

  1. Changing the environment
  2. Compensatory strategies 
  3. Remediation 

Strategies that WE (Teachers and Parents) can do:

  • Give our children quiet work areas
  • Repeat/Paraphrase information 
  • Preview/Review Activities
  • Establish eye contact
  • Monitor our rate of speech
  • Allow extra response time
  • Break down complex language
  • Avoid non-essential words

Strategies for our Children:

  • Keep eyes on the speaker
  • Ask for repetition/clarification 
  • Silent/Out-loud rehearsal 
  • Visualization 

At Home Practice:

  • Sound identification games
  • Sound pattern games
  • Hiding something that makes music or noise, or even playing "Marco Polo"
  • Practicing phonics


Alyson Rumley, M.S., CCC-SLP                 Abigail Page Moore, M.S., CCC-SLP