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Classroom Ideas for Children with Central Auditory Processing Disorders (CAPD)

"Meta-What?" Putting Metacognitive Strategies to Work in the Classroom

By Jane Auriemmo, AuD, CCC-A and Dana Selznick, M.A., Ed.M.

Jane Auriemmo, CCC-A, AuD

At CHC, we not only specialize in helping children with hearing problems, but also in diagnosing and assisting children who have normal hearing but weaknesses in the auditory pathways that carry information from the ear to the brain, or central auditory processing disorders (CAPD). CAPD is also sometimes called "auditory processing disorder” or APD. Children with CAPD hear normally, but may face listening problems when background noise is present or when speech is not clear. These kids may struggle in social and classroom communication situations.

Every child is different and a comprehensive evaluation by a CHC audiologist will determine which solutions may be appropriate for your child. Recommendations will sometimes include use of “metacognitive” strategies. A strange-sounding term, but this can be a great way to get your child involved in charting his or her own successful course in school and in social situations. It will also help build important, lifelong self-advocacy skills. So, what is it? Metacognition is essentially “thinking about thinking.”

Dana Selznick, M.A., M.Ed.

Analyzing the reasons for difficulty in listening and communication situations is important. Children who can do this are able to notice problem situations early on. They can name the problem. They can think about things within their control to employ in order to improve the situation. In other words, rather than attributing the problem to the teacher, to the behavior of another student, or to someone or something else, they are thinking about what they can do to help on their own. This engagement can build or strengthen self-advocacy skills.

Communication challenges can occur during classroom teaching/lecture situations, group learning settings and test-taking. A couple of examples of challenges and the students’ own solutions are below.

Challenge #1: Listening to the Teacher When Classmates are Noisy

Suzie, an 8-year old loves school but becomes frustrated when her classmate Jenny, in the next seat, chats while the teacher is talking. Other students seem to manage, but Suzie has difficulty and might miss an assignment or a question.

Solution: Suzie can easily name the problem (her classmate’s chatting). Her task: figure out what she can do about it. She comes up with:

  1. A polite “shhh” to Jenny.

  2. Explaining to the teacher she’s having difficulty hearing and asking the teacher to move her seat.

Step 1 worked and Suzie was empowered by her success!

Challenge #2: Note-taking in Second Language Class

Note-taking in Spanish class is a challenge for 14-year-old Sam. Although his hearing is normal, he has difficulty hearing similar-sounding words even in English—for example, “tough” and “puff.” If he sees them written, he has no problem distinguishing them. Sam does a great job using the context of the topic to figure the words out in English. But in Spanish, this is much more difficult. He is acing all his classes except Spanish and wants to improve.

Solution: Sam knows what the problem is—he has difficulty with new Spanish vocabulary words presented orally. When asked to think about what would help him, he proposes:

  1. Asking the teacher to write the word on the smart board.

  2. Requesting a list of new vocabulary words prior to class.

  3. Requesting permission to record the class so that he can play back sections he has difficulty with later and ask the teacher, if necessary.

Sam found step 1 awkward, because he felt like he was interrupting the flow of the class. However, the teacher was fine with steps 2 and 3. Sam used them both and found greater ease of listening, improved performance and even started to enjoy the class.

In both examples, the child analyzes the interaction and becomes aware of the strategies that can be employed for more successful future interactions. Learning to identify problem situations and to employ strategies or request assistance is important for both academic and social communication success.

Other Ways to Support a Child with CAPD

With the new school year just getting underway, what else can you do to support your child with CAPD? Reach out to teachers to make sure they understand your child’s listening challenges in the classroom and take appropriate action. Here's a template for a customizable letter you can fill out and share with teachers and coaches. So important to educate the educators!

Download PDF • 499KB

Make sure your child understands the importance of self-advocacy and has the age-appropriate tools to make it happen. For upper elementary school students, work with them before school starts to come up with a list of situations that are challenging for them and things that they may find helpful. As your child gets older and enters middle or high school, conduct a team meeting that they join. This will give the child an opportunity to be a part of the conversation and to take ownership in finding strategies that help them as a learner.

If an audiologist has recommended an FM system, your child can draw and label a picture of the FM with the important buttons that the teacher will need to use such as the on/off, mute, and connect buttons. When the school year begins they can give their list and drawing to their teacher. Encourage your child to introduce the FM to their class. This will eliminate questions throughout the year from the other students. It is helpful to use phrases such as “this microphone helps me hear- just like glasses help people see.”

We're Here to Help!

The back-to-school season can feel overwhelming to parents of a child with CAPD. Please know you are not alone: CHC's team of CAPD experts are here to guide and support your child's journey to better listening and academic success.

A specially trained CHC audiologist can test for and diagnose CAPD as well as make targeted recommendations for overcoming daily listening and learning challenges. An education specialist is available for consultations, classroom site visits, IEP support and one-on-one sessions with your child to address educational weaknesses and teach self-advocacy skills. Many of these services are available through telehealth.

Should you have questions, please don't hesitate to contact us. You can email Audiologist Jane Auriemmo at or Education Specialist Dana Selznick at

We look forward to partnering with you and your child for a successful school year!


Download PDF • 499KB

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