Myths Surrounding CAPD

Auditory Processing Disorder Is Frequently Misunderstood

Central Auditory Processing Disorder, or CAPD, is a hidden disability. While it may be hard to understand these unseen difficulties, they are really just the same.

People with CAPD have trouble interpreting and processing sounds. Some of the traits and symptoms of CAPD cause people to be considered to have hearing loss, be slow, or lack manners. They may have problems with communication and therefore be considered as lacking social skills. These presumptions are not true.

CAPD is Not a Hearing Disability

An audiologist diagnoses CAPD. Hearing tests to determine how well a person can distinguish between sounds and distinguish between background noise and foreground noise help to determine if CAPD is present. Most people with CAPD, however, do not have any hearing loss.

Some of the characteristics may lead people to believe there is hearing loss. Someone with CAPD may mistake a word for one that sounds similar. For example, “Do you want to sit in the chair,” may sound like, “Do you want to sit in the hair.” People may talk loudly, assuming hearing loss. Speaking loudly, however, does not help. Instead, it would be more helpful to rephrase what was said. Many times people with CAPD will determine words by content when they are not able to process the sounds.

CAPD Does Not Impact Intelligence

Often, there may be a delay in processing information that is heard orally. Someone may say a sentence and it may sound like gibberish. Sometimes processing can take just a few minutes, sometimes hours, sometimes longer. However, when it takes even a few minutes to process the sounds, there is a lag in the conversation. Or the conversation may move on, leaving the person with CAPD to decode sounds from the previous sentence and miss the current sentence. Or conversations may become delayed and have periods of silence as the person with CAPD processes words.

Unfortunately, this trait can leave people with the impression that the person with CAPD is not intelligent or is slow. However, most people with CAPD are of normal intelligence. Taking additional time to process sounds is not an indication of not understanding concepts or being able to comprehend a discussion.

CAPD Does Not Indicate Social Inefficiency

There are a number of characteristics of CAPD that may cause others to believe someone is rude or lacking in social skills. In areas where there is background noise, it can be hard to distinguish between noises in the background that can be ignored, from noise in the foreground that should be listened to. For example, when seated in a restaurant, there may be diners talking to one another and a conversation going on at the table where you are seated. The noise of both can converge, making it hard to know when to respond to someone.

In addition, speaking may sometimes be mistaken for background noise. People with CAPD might either interrupt; not realizing someone else is talking or ignores someone speaking. Either way, it may give the impression of rudeness or lack of social skills.

See Also:

Five Myths About Dyslexia


“Auditory Processing Disorder in Children.” National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Feb. 2004.

Patton, Judith W. “Living and Working with a Central Auditory Processing Disorder.” LDOnline. 1997.

“Auditory Processing Disorder.” 2007. Reviewed by Thierry Morlet, PhD