CAPD: Central Auditory Processing Disorder, sometimes also just Auditory Processing Disorder, is a condition that affects a child’s ability to process what he hears in the same way other kids do because his ears and brain don’t fully coordinate. Something interferes with the way the brain recognizes and interprets sounds, especially speech.
Some kids with this problem are very sensitive to loud noises They will, when very young, cry if there is nearby thunder. Fireworks? No, no, no. Not fun for a child who has CAPD.
It’s very easy to confuse CAPD with ADD or ADHD. (You know, I truly dislike writing in acronyms!) Some of the symptoms are the same. The thing to watch for is whether or not the child mixes up sounds even if they are clearly pronounced. Now, don’t get all flustered. All kids mix up sounds when they are first learning to talk. It’s hard for them to distinguish S from F, for instance, or B from D. Often, they come up with some pretty cute, funny, or embarrassing mistakes. But as time passes, these mistakes go away. A child with CAPD? The mistakes remain.
Background noise is a problem. Big crowds, noisy kids in a cafeteria at school, loud music in a restaurant, can all make it very difficult for someone with CAPD to hear clearly. Feeling stupid, they learn to pretend they’ve heard and to just nod or smile rather than trying to answer.
Only 5% or so of kids actually have CAPD. There is help. Here is a good website if you think your child–or maybe your spouse or other relative–may have this disorder. Sometimes, just understanding it goes a long way toward living with it.