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Posted on Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Central Auditory Processing Disorder Tests and Treatments

Girl with auditory processing disorder smiles after proper treatment

Children who have difficulty with learning and language may have a central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) or what is also called an auditory processing disorder (APD). A CAPD prohibits children from understanding and processing language in the average or expected way and is often compared to having dyslexia of the ear. There are specific tests and emerging treatments to help people with central auditory processing disorders.

Audiology Testing for Central Auditory Processing Disorder

Since this disorder can have many individualized symptoms and components, to get the proper treatment and instruction children must first be evaluated and properly diagnosed by an audiologist. According to Chermak, Gail D. PhD in her article, Pathways: Comprehensive Auditory Function Testing Vital for Children with CAPD, "Comprehensive testing of auditory functions using behavioral and electrophysiological methods is important to identify children who can benefit from interventions, including assistive listening devices and environmental changes to improve signal-to-noise levels in the classroom." Some of the test an audiologist will use to evaluate children can be found below. This is a partial list that gives an idea of the complex nature of diagnosing hearing and listening problems.

• Aural Health Review: Checks ear anatomy, presence of chronic fluid; blood tests such as lead levels; metabolic functioning tests
• Tympanogram: Acoustic reflex measure of middle ear health; determines possible hearing loss (Aural Health Review and Tympanogram definition thanks to: Autism Sight and Hearing Loss)
• Behavioral Hearing Test—Patient is asked to respond to auditory stimulation. (Not appropriate for all ages or children.)
• Auditory Brainstem Response Testing—Comfortable earphones placed on the ears emitting a sound picked up by delicate equipment that measures how a child’s brain responds.
• Central Auditory Processing Evaluation—A series of tests designed to determine if a child has a problem with discerning certain sounds.
• Otoacoustic Emissions—A soft sponge earphone is placed in the ear canal to measure the presence or absence of typical “echo” responses to sound.

Once a child's exact deficit with hearing and language has been determined by an audiologist a strategy is developed to help introduce the child to the skills necessary for proper listening and the accumulation of language. Here are some of the ways that audiologists and other specialist can help children cope with central auditory processing disorder:

• Auditory conditioning and training based on known deficits
• Introduction to Assistive Listening Devices ALD
• Computer-based learning tools
• Speech and Language Processing (Speech Pathologists)
• Instruction of skills used to compensate for deficits
• Language processing training
• Introduction of musical training

Assistive Listening Devices Helping Autistic Kids in the Classroom

The MARRS Project, a study of classroom amplification noted, "in 1990 children with developmental disabilities in a primary-level class utilizing sound field amplification made significantly fewer errors on a word identification task than they made without amplification. Children were observed to be more relaxed and responded more quickly in the amplified condition." For the student with CAPD, amplification can help accommodate certain deficits in hearing and language. Children with central auditory processing disorder can be easily distracted and increasing amplification of a teacher's voice, thereby drowning out background noise, can help them focus. Phonak, maker of hearing aids and assistive listening sound systems, claims their Dynamic Soundfield developed to help improve classroom acoustics for the hard of hearing, learning disabled, and even the average student has the following benefits:

• Improved sentence recognition ability
• Increased attention, interaction and participation
• Quicker acquisition of reading, writing and numeracy skills
• Easier deciphering of language in early learning years
• Better understanding of teacher for non-native speakers
• Expanded seating options for students with attention deficit issues

Musical Training Helps the Brain with Hearing

Functions of hearing influenced by musical training are timing, pitch lock, pitch track, and processing, to name just a few.

It has been shown by Dr. Nina Kraus of Northwestern that students, specifically those with learning and processing difficulties, can be aided with exposure to music. Listening and playing music activates different regions of the brain and helps to influence some of the deficits auditory processing disorder students have with hearing and language. As Dr. kraus points out, “Music activates many parts of our brain stem.” Her research has given hope to increasing awareness of the importance of what sensory stimulation can do to help children with learning difficulties. Learn more about Dr. Kraus's work and how the mind works to mimic music at Brainvolts the website of Northwestern University Communcation's Department.

Auditory and Speech Training

Audiologist can work to support Verbal Behavior (VB) in students with central auditory processing disorder. VB helps teach autistic children to communicate and recognize sounds. This training, like the goal with music and amplification, can be used to bridge the gap in language and processing. Children with CAPD can also benefit from computer programs designed to increase language recognition and listening skills. In addition programs like Earobics are designed to help students who have difficulties with learning achieve greater competency with reading. If you haven't had your child tested for central auditory processing disorder, contact your hearing health professional today.

If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

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