Misdiagnosed disorder: Central Auditory Processing Disorder

February 29, 2012 2:59:26 PM PST
There is a disorder that affects school-aged children and many times it is misdiagnosed or undiagnosed.

It's known as a processing disorder. It means kids can't understand spoken words correctly.

Sixteen-year-old Zoe Robinson doesn't have any hearing problems, but she does have difficulty processing some of the information she hears. Her mother Kelli noticed early on.

"There was a little disconnect," Kelli Robinson says her daughter. "She just sometimes didn't get it but I didn't know what that was."

At first it was thought to be an attention disorder. But Zoe was missing things even when she was fully engaged.

It wasn't until they visited audiologist Jessica Loson at A. I. DuPont Hospital for Children that they figured out what was wrong. Loson says Zoe has Central Auditory Processing Disorder, or CAPD. It affects a person's ability to understand a spoken message. One key sign is if kids become easily distracted in noisy environments.

"They end up not being able to understand a message or miss hearing what the message was," according to Loson.

"I would miss certain directions because there were so many people in the room talking," Zoe says of her troubles.

CAPD can affect a child's ability to learn and communicate. It's diagnosed through several evaluations. Treatment includes exercises with a specialist or at home, like playing auditory quickness games.

Zoe says just being aware there is a disconnect also helps.

"I usually realize now if I am misunderstanding someone," Zoe says, "so I can say, 'Wait. Can you say that again?'"

Her teacher said she's noticed a radical change just by having her sit up with an ear towards teacher.

Here are some of the other signs of CAPD:
* Difficulty understanding directions in a noisy environment
* If your child is bothered by loud or sudden noises
* If verbal math problems are difficult for them to understand despite having good math skills

You can get more information at the following links:

kidshealth.org - Auditory Processing Disorder

Nemours - A Children's Health System