A kid stands there as you tell them to fold their laundry. This kid doesn’t respond. You may think he’s deaf, but just a few minutes later he says “OK.” He starts to fold their laundry, and you feel puzzled as to why it took this kid so long.
When I was younger, my mom had someone teach me basic American Sign Language. I wouldn’t look at my mom and would never respond even up to the age of 3 and 4. People would suggest to her I was being a disobedient child who was ignoring her.
After I had a hearing test, my mom was told that I had keen hearing like a dog so she knew I had an undiagnosed learning disability. She was a special education teacher so she had me tested. I was diagnosed with central auditory processing disorder (CAPD). I have seen some books about it, but I don’t think there’s enough information out there about it. So let me tell you a few things to help educate you.
1. My brain is wired differently.
It might take a few more seconds later for me to comprehend what you just said to me. I might not actually ever hear you. The words might be jumbled all over the place and I might hear something completely different. I might hear “cat” when you say “hat.” I might say, “What?” way too often. Sometimes after my “Whats?” I will respond because I finally heard what you said. My brain is wired differently and that’s OK. I been told since I was younger that some of the wires make it to my brain from my ear and sometimes they don’t.
2. School is difficult.
I can comprehend visual teachings right away and memorize them for life. But when a teacher provides only verbal instruction, it’s hard to understand the lesson. That’s why I need a note-taker or notes from the teacher. I may need to re-read the textbook to understand what heard in class. This happens both in elementary school, high school and college, too.
At 26 years old, I still need accommodations of a note-taker in courses in order to learn during lectures. School is only difficult because most of the time professors only teach verbally. We need to help the visual learners, too!
3. It’s a learning disorder for life.
There is a lot of information online for children who have or might have CAPD. Please understand it happens in adulthood, too. A lot of people mistake it for attention deficit disorder (ADD), but it’s really a disorder in understanding speech. I can understand one-on one-conversations better than group conversations. Every word from each person starts to jumble together and everyone’s voice is a background conversation. Bars, clubs and a group of more than three is difficult. I may start to stare into oblivion because my brain cannot separate words from sounds.
4. I’m not ignoring you.
I may ask, “What?” too much or I will move on from a sentence or a question because I can’t figure out what is being said. I’m not ignoring you. I just don’t want you to get mad at me from asking, “What?” too many times. I ask my family and friends to write down what they need me to do because if you only verbally tell me what you need me to do, I won’t be able to follow or remember. I need to see something or have it written in front of me.
Here’s some advice on how you help a person with CAPD at home, college and in life:
- Keep the background noise to a minimum.
- Arrange note-takers for classes.
- Write things down for someone.
- Make sure the speaker is looking at the person with CAPD. Make sure the person with CAPD is looking at the speaker.
And here’s some advice for people with CAPD.
- Learn how to read lips.
- Know it’s OK to ask someone to repeat a question.
There are more people in the world with central auditory processing disorder than you realize. Maybe you know someone, have a kid or you have it yourself. Maybe you just met someone or would just like to know more information. I hope this helps.