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What Is A Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)?

Central auditory processing problem can be defined as the inability or decreased ability to make efficient use of auditory information, in other words, poor listening skills. Children with CAPD may exhibit a reduced ability to attend to, remember, or understand information they hear. They may not recognize subtle differences between sounds in words. Normal development of receptive/expressive language and reading skills is largely dependent on effective auditory processing abilities. In order to learn in school via the auditory channel, a child needs the ability to:

  • Hear adequately
  • Listen attentively as well as remember, understand, and follow instructions during the school day
  • Separate out important speech from all the other noises present.

For a child with an auditory processing problem, learning in the classroom environment, where noise and visual distractions can be constant, may become extremely difficult. If a central auditory processing disorder remains undiagnosed and untreated, such problems may persist, resulting in poor communication skills throughout adulthood. What many people don’t realize is that the problem is more related to poor information processing than hearing. In fact, most people with auditory processing problems have normal intelligence and normal hearing sensitivity.

Specialized audiological testing evaluates the different areas of auditory function such as:

  • Hearing acuity
  • Discriminating sounds in quiet and in noise backgrounds
  • Phonemic awareness
  • Remembering and sequencing what is heard
  • Assigning meaning to bits and pieces of information heard from different locations in the environment simultaneously

These auditory processing skills are the foundation for successful academic and social success.

What Can Be Done?

We work with specially selected, speech-language pathologists with specific expertise in central auditory and language processing to provide unique combined programming using auditory and language processing training techniques to treat your child’s total communication system. This approach allows us to treat the specific ways in which auditory information is refined, modified and organized as it travels from the ear upward toward the higher brain centers via the auditory pathways as well as address development of receptive and expressive language skills. We create an individualized therapy program to meet your child’s needs encompassing:

  • Specific goals based on the results of comprehensive assessments of each auditory and/or language skill area.
  • Facilitating the participation of the child’s family and teachers in addressing program goals to ensure appropriate carry-over of target skills.
  • Major emphasis throughout treatment on building and maintaining a child’s self-esteem and confidence.

Therapeutic approaches for management of auditory processing problems may include:

  • Training to improve integration and separation of competing auditory information
  • Using therapeutic techniques designed to improve auditory memory and listening comprehension
  • Providing specialized dichotic listening exercises to strengthen auditory pathways
  • Working to desensitize the child to the distractions of background noise
  • Helping to implement modifications of the listening/learning environment
  • Teaching compensatory listening and learning strategies
  • Assistive listening technology

How Are Your Child’s Speech-Language Skills

Speaking, hearing and understanding are essential to human communication. Language is essential to academic success, learning, working, and enjoying family and social life with peers. When a child cannot understand the language code, there is a Receptive problem. If a child does not know enough language rules to verbally share thoughts, ideas and feelings completely, then there is an Expressive problem. One problem can exist without the other, but they often occur together in children and adults.

Language is a code made up of rules that include:

  • What words mean
  • How to make new words
  • How to combine words together
  • Determine what word combinations are best in what situations
  • Pragmatics (social language skills)

Speech is the oral form of language. It consists of the following components:

  • Articulation, the ability to produce intelligible speech sound production
  • Voice, appropriate use of quality (resonance), pitch and loudness
  • Fluency, smooth initiation and flow of connected speech
  • Oral motor function, the appropriate use of speech and voice muscles

A comprehensive speech/language evaluation utilizes standardized diagnostic tools, clinical observation, parent/family and teacher interviews to assess the following:

  • Language development, comprehension, and expression
  • Articulation
  • Appropriate use of voice
  • Oral motor development
  • Pragmatic language skill

What Can Be Done?

We work with specially selected, highly trained, speech-language pathologists, certified by the American Speech, Language, and Hearing Association, to provide effective treatment. These individuals design and implement an individualized therapy program to improve and/or correct receptive and expressive communication difficulties. Specific goals are based on the results of a comprehensive assessment in each of the evaluated skill areas. A home program for use by parents/teachers may also be created to ensure appropriate carry-over of target skills into the child’s daily school, social and home life. Throughout treatment, major emphasis is placed on building and maintaining a child’s self-esteem and confidence.

Meet our Auditory Processing Specialists

Marsha R. Harris, Au.D.

Marsha R. Harris, Au.D.

Marsha R. Harris, Au.D. is a licensed audiologist and speech-language pathologist certified by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association. Dr. Harris holds a Master of Science degree in audiology from the University of Rhode Island, a Master of Education degree in speech-language pathology from Florida Atlantic University, and a Doctor of Audiology degree from the University of Florida. For over 25 years, Dr. Harris has provided services in a variety of settings including schools, university clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, and private practice. She has developed special expertise in diagnostic assessment of central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) as well as in design and implementation of individualized auditory training and language therapeutic intervention programs for children and adults with language and/or central auditory processing difficulties. Dr. Harris currently serves on the professional advisory board of the Palm Beach County, Florida chapter of CHADD, the international non-profit organization that works to help children and adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

Richard Saul, Ph.D. specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of auditory processing and dizziness and balance disorders. He received his Doctorate in neuroscience and audiology from the State University of New York at Buffalo. In addition to clinical practice, Dr. Saul is professor in the Department of Audiology of several universities in Distance Learning such as Lamar University and Salus University. Dr. Saul is also a clinical faculty in communication disorders and sciences; Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Florida Atlantic University.