Signs of Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory Processing Disorder (sometimes CAPD) mimics symptoms of autism and retardation, but it is not the same.  Whereas autism is primarily a social disorder and retardation is primarily cognitive deficit, CAPD kids have the ability to be both social and smart.  The processing of verbal information, however, is impeded, which delays their abilities in both social (communication) and cognitive areas.

My oldest son struggles with this and looking back on it now, these were the things that stood out to me most… some were just impressions that, now that I’ve known other APD kids, are common to feel.

  • Couldn’t talk by 3 yrs old, or 3.5 when other kids who were slow to talk were catching up
  • Couldn’t comprehend the simplest things said
  • Didn’t make eye contact regularly; when asked to, eye contact actually seemed to impede comprehension
  • anxious or distracted personality, high-need
  • reacted to noise, enjoyed noise/sounds; but may not turn when spoken to
  • May be eager to go away when spoken to, or may keep listening after the speaking is done
  • Just doesn’t “get it”
  • Acts as though they are ESL
  • I could tell on the inside that he was bright and smart, especially as I watched him do puzzles or watch a video, but his eyes were glazed or clouded when I talked to him
  • I used to feel like when I spoke to my him, that I “saw” cotton in his ears that I just wanted to pull out so he’d “hear” me!

5 thoughts on “Signs of Auditory Processing Disorder

  1. I have been searching all over the web about my sons symptoms and have found your blog a haven where I can go to when i’m feeling particularly down about my little boys development- Thank you. He’s just turned 3 and what you describe about you oldest son with auditory processing sounds exactly what my little man is like…… please please help me understand what to do to help him and if this gets better as it seems to for your son. Im dreaming of the day when Ill be able to have a spontaneous conversation with him but it seems so far off at the moment. We’re going to speech therapy, play therapy and about to start sensory integration therapy but I just feel like progress is so slow. Hes had all the assesements done and ASD was ruled out but no one can actually say whats going on and how to help… Do you have any tips on when and how things got better and what you did to help? any ideas would be sooooo useful. Thank you thank you thank you

  2. Xenia, and anyone else wondering… hold onto faith! Things did get better for my son who was SO far behind at 4 years of age. He went through so much intervention and IEP and all that… but what helped him most was just being in a normal kindergarten classroom and so forth. Eventually he picked up enough phrases to become functional, and then he learned to read at 5, and things took off from there. Once he could read printed words on teh page, he learned language that way and could speak just as well as any other first grader. 5 years old and into the sixth year was really the year he began to catch up. Now my son is almost 9 and has very few symptoms left… with no IEP, no special interventions, etc. He still says “What?” a lot, and I have to be briefer with explanations than with my other two boys, but he is 100% functional and thriving.

    The main thing we did was homeschool him starting in first grade since dealing with the public school system became such a fight and we didn’t have money for private school. They fought me every step of pulling him out and told me he would fail by third grade (when English gets “hard”) with no IEP support. Now he’s graduated third grade and English is one of his strongest subjects. He reads and reads. I am not saying our situation is a fairy tale or anything–or that everyone else’s will–I am just saying there is definitely an intimidation game out there that needs to be exposed. In our case, bucking the trend of intervention and not succumbing to fear was SO important.

    I am glad we traveled down that path of resisting the trap and just doing what we do. An education-oriented family is really all a late bloomer needs to catch up. And slightly readjusted expectations for what is developmentally appropriate for the age. I would encourage all worried moms with auditory and sensory messed up sons to believe “normalcy” will occur. Just a little later than you want it to.

  3. Hi there,

    Are you then saying you don’t believe early intervention is needed for auditory processing issues? My son is almost 3.5 and is talking a lot, and purposefully, so I think his case is mild, but he was diagnosed as borderline/mild autism spectrum at 2.5 because he had little social speech at that time and wasn’t really interacting with peers. Now he is doing those things well, but the main issues that remain seem to me more in the realm of auditory processing: repeating things, relying on some scripted speech, mishearing and misinterpreting things said to him, etc. He is still getting speech therapy in preschool from his IEP, but I’m just wondering if I should be asking the therapist about auditory processing now that it seems clearer, to me anyway, that this might be the issue rather than ASD, or if in your opinion there is no specific therapy to help with auditory processing anyway.

    Glad to read that for your son it mostly worked itself out!

  4. Hi Jaime
    Thank you so much for your reply and that you have me some hope! My little boy is 3.5 now and is very slowly improving bit still anything abstract is impossible for him and the favourite question of “what did you do at nursery?” only gets me the name of his teacher…. Ita so sad that I can’t have a co creation with my son like I see others do…. But I’m praying well get there. Jaime what exercises did you do with your little boy at home to help his processing? We get speech, sensory and OT therapy totalling about 6 hours a week on top of 9 hours nursery ( what we call ore-school
    In the UK where I Live) I feel like I wasn’t to help uk
    More at home and in everyday life as getting the true “meaning ” of a word seems te be the key so he can reuse it again in his own context…. Any other therapy that you thought helped? There’s souch out there that I feel a bit lost…. Even considering trying cranial therapy as progress seems so slow and am very worried he won’t catch up by the time hea 5 whe he starts reception ( not site what US equivalent is) please any advice is soooo appreciate in this crazy maze Of therapy!
    Thank you thank you thank you?
    Also when did you little boys start to have a back and forth conversation????? I’m really
    Pining for that these days as I can see es smart and had a lot to say… Just doesn’t know how:(

  5. Hello! I am just beginning to do research on CAPD… I have known that there is something not right with my 3 and a half year old daughter for about 18 months now. I have another daughter with special needs and it was fairly easy to have her diagnosed because her sypmtoms so clearly fit into certain categories. With my 3 year old, I have been so frustrated because I just can’t seem to figure her out! A friend mentioned CAPD and when I looked it up this morning I was amazed at how perfectly it describes her!! Then, I was discouraged to see that they don’t do testing for CAPD until a child is 7. How did you get your son diagnosed at 3?? I am 99% certain that this is what my daughter has but don’t know what to do next! I feel like I am at the end of my rope with her and the thought of waiting 3-4 years with no help is terrifying!

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