Ask the Audiologist

Central Auditory Processing (CAP)

A number of children with learning disabilities demonstrate Central Auditory Processing (CAP) problems.

These children usually have normal hearing and normal intelligence. They are unable to effectively utilize auditory information, especially when competing sounds are present. They are described as inattentive, easily distracted by background noise, and exhibit difficulty following verbal directions.

The following are characteristic of children with CAP problems:
• Academically, children with CAP deficits do not perform to their potential.
• Socially, they tend not to "get along" with peers.
• Communicatively, they may have a language disorder.

Central Auditory Testing

A battery of Central Auditory tests can be used:
• As a screening procedure for children suspected of CAP problems.
• As a diagnostic procedure to describe a child's auditory strengths and weaknesses. This information would be important when making recommendations for therapy.
• As a follow-up procedure to give information to the speech-language pathologist about progress and/or development.

Initial Evaluation Procedure

The CAP test battery is performed by a team often comprised of an audiologist, a speech-language pathologist, an educational psychologist, and an occupational therapist when indicated.

First a hearing test (audiogram) is performed to rule out a hearing loss. Then, a series of tests are given which require the child to repeat carefully selected words or sentences. Some of the tests in the battery are on audio tape, and the child hears the words through earphones.

The test battery is designed to "tax" the auditory system to give information about the child's auditory processing capabilities. Depending upon the problems presented by the child, some portions of the test may use filtered speech material or varying levels of background noise. Each listening task is designed to give information on a particular processing skill.

It is difficult to find a center that has the necessary mix of professionals to provide CAP testing. Audiological practices associated with large hospitals may offer these tests. You might try there first. Sorry.