According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) is defined as difficulties in the processing of auditory information in the central nervous system, as demonstrated weaknesses in one or more of the following areas:
- Auditory Discrimination: The ability to notice, compare and distinguish the distinct and separate sounds in words.
- Auditory Figure-Ground Discrimination: The ability to pick out important sounds from a noisy background
- Auditory Memory: The ability to remember something one has heard very recently as well as recall something one has heard a long time ago.
- Auditory Sequencing: The ability to understand and recall the order of words.
In the classroom environment, children with CAPD often are described as having weaknesses in listening skills, following oral instructions and phonemic awareness. In addition, research clearly indicates that children with CAPD are more likely to demonstrate weaknesses with inattention. More specifically, current estimates indicate that approximately 50% of all children with CAPD have co-occurring ADD/ADHD.
The high rate of co-occurrence of CAPD and ADD/ADHD has led some researchers to question if CAPD is a manifestation of ADD/ADHD rather than a different disorder. Although a consensus has not yet been reached, most research indicates that CAPD is distinct from ADD/ADHD. More specifically, individuals with CAPD tend to demonstrate weaknesses only on auditory measures of attention whereas individuals diagnosed with ADD/ADHD demonstrate weakness on both auditory and visual measures of attention. Neuropsychological studies also indicate that different brain regions are involved in ADD/ADHD and CAPD. In conclusion, although overlapping symptoms exists between CAPD and ADD/ADHD, the majority of research support they are two distinct disorders.
As part of the comprehensive evaluation, the ApaCenter screens for CAPD when that is an area of concern.