By Karina Richland, M.A., E.T.
- Is your child easily distracted or bothered by loud or sudden noises?
- Are conversations difficult for your child to follow?
- Are noisy environments upsetting?
- Are verbal (word) math problems demanding?
- Does your child have difficulty following directions?
- Is abstract information tough to interpret?
- Does your child struggle with reading, spelling, writing, or other speech-related language difficulties?
Central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) occurs when the ear and the brain do not coordinate together completely. Many of the behaviors associated with central auditory processing disorder also appear in other conditions such as learning disabilities (LD) and attention deficit disorder (ADHD). The symptoms in each individual can range from mild to severe and only a trained professional, such as a speech-language pathologists and an audiologist who specialize in CAPD, can determine if your child actually has a central auditory processing disorder.
If your child does have central auditory processing disorder and finds it difficult to concentrate and follow directions, there are numerous strategies that parents can implement for their child.
What was I supposed to do again?
In order to help a child with CAPD follow directions, try reducing background noises, always have the child look at you when you are speaking and use simple, expressive sentences. Speaking at a slightly louder volume and at a slower tempo will also help significantly. Have your child repeat the directions back to you aloud a few times and be certain that they understand the directions they are repeating and not just mimicking your voice.
I left my book at school.
A student with CAPD will thrive on routine and structure. Teach your child how to focus and cope in chaotic environments (like middle school). Before going home for the day, for instance, have the child check his or her assignment book and list what he or she needs to take home that day.
I can’t concentrate; it’s too loud in here.
At school the child should sit towards the front of the room facing the teacher with his or her back to the windows, doors, and other sources of distraction. The teacher can periodically touch the child’s shoulder to remind him or her to focus or get ready for a transition. Teachers should use lots and lots of visual aids jotting down instructions or key words on the board, and providing simple written outlines. For younger students a drawing works fine as a reminder.
At home, provide the child with a quiet study place. Keep the TV turned off and any outside stimuli far away. Make sure the work desk is free of clutter and well organized. Maintain a peaceful, organized lifestyle that also encourages good eating and sleeping habits and keeping a neat room and desk.
Teachers and parents both need to remember that central auditory processing disorder is a real condition. The symptoms and behaviors are not within the child’s control. Children with CAPD are not being defiant or being lazy. Help them build a strong self-esteem and learn to advocate for themselves, as they get older. Keep it positive and keep life fun!
Karina Richland, M.A., E.T. is the Managing Director of Pride Learning Centers, located in Los Angeles and Orange County. A former teacher for Los Angeles Unified School District, Ms. Richland is a Reading and Learning Disability Specialist. Ms. Richland speaks frequently to parents, teachers, and professionals on learning differences, and writes for several journals and publications. You can reach her by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Pride Learning Center website at: