Auditory Processing

Auditory processing, also known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD), affects approximately 5% of school-age children. Children with CAPD don't process information they hear the same way as others because their ears and brains don't coordinate the information.

Kids with CAPD do not recognize differences between sounds in words, even when the sounds are clear and loud enough. Kids with CAPD hear normally, but they do not process what they hear in a typical manner.

CAPD may exist by itself or may co-exist with other conditions/disabilities. In order to determine if your child has CAPD, it is important to have a full audiological evaluation.

Symptoms of CAPD can range from mild to severe and can take on many different forms. Consider these questions if you suspect your child has difficulty processing information he/she hears:
  • Is your child distracted by or unusually bothered by loud or sudden noises?
  • Are noisy environments upsetting to your child?
  • Does your child have difficulty following directions?
  • Does your child's performance/behavior improve when in quieter settings
  • Does your child have spelling, reading, writing, or other speech-language difficulties?
  • Is abstract information difficult for your child to comprehend?
  • Is your child disorganized and forgetful?
  • Does your child have difficulty following conversations?
Areas affected by children with CAPD
  • Auditory figure-ground - difficulty paying attention when there's noise in the background
  • Auditory memory - difficulty remembering directions, lists, or study materials.
  • Auditory discrimination - difficulty hearing the differences between words or sounds that are similar
  • Auditory attention - this is when a child can't maintain focus or listening long enough to complete a task


Auditory processing can impact day to day activities in your child's life. It is important to work with your child's team to assist in implementing strategies to facilitate progress. Here are a few ideas that you, your child, and your whole family can engage in that will target auditory processing skills:

  • Be sure your child is looking at you when you are speaking to them
  • Use simple and expressive sentences with your child.
  • Reduce background noise as best you can when speaking to your child.
  • Go for a walk with your child. While outside listen and identify the various sounds that you hear.
  • Play hide and seek with a toy that makes noise, then have your child try to locate the sound.
  • Read rhyming books. This helps children begin to hear the similar sounds in rhyming words.
  • Sing songs that involve repeating versus (for example, "The 12 Days of Christmas")
  • Have your child close his/her eyes and identify different sounds that you make (i.e, stapler, typing, scissors, tapping a pencil)
  • Have your child repeat various sound patterns with you. This can be clapping a different number of times and in a different rhythm, tapping on your legs, or playing various instruments in random order.
  • Give your child multiple step directions to follow. Begin with 2-3 steps and gradually increase these steps as they are successful. You can make this even more fun by turning it into a game of "Simon Says"
  • Read a story to your child and then ask several questions regarding characters, locations, plot, etc…
  • There are several websites that offer computer games to target auditory processing. One such website is www.brainconnection.com (brain teasers)
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