The ability to process information develops with age and maturity of the central auditory mechanism. The central auditory nervous system is responsible for processing and interpreting auditory information. An immature or deficient central auditory nervous system results in central auditory processing difficulties.
A Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) is a perceptual auditory difficulty that affects the analysis and processing of auditory information. Individuals with CAPD usually have adequate hearing acuity (peripheral hearing) but have difficulty listening in demanding auditory environments. They also have difficulty identifying and locating a sound source, discriminating (differentiating) auditory information, recognising auditory patterns and discriminating relevant from irrelevant auditory information.
Children with CAPD often have associated language, learning and reading difficulties since auditory processing forms the basis for the development of language and learning skills. In the preschool years, children develop speech, language and sound awareness through listening. In the school years, learning takes place through the language mode (verbal and written) and children who experience auditory processing difficulties often experience language and learning difficulty. Children with CAPD often have difficulty attending to and identifying the features of sounds and words that are essential to reading. They have difficulty attending to and understanding the language and sounds they hear and therefore fail to make the necessary links with written language.
Adults with CAPD often have difficulty in social-communication situations, particularly if there is a lot of excessive background noise, poor listening conditions and many people speaking at the same time. These difficulties may lead to lower confidence and poorer feelings of well-being.