But in someone who suffers from CAPD, auditory processing can be delayed or scrambled. Especially when there’s background noise, the brain may try to process everything all at once and might never be able make sense of anything. “It’s hard to distinguish foreground from background.
Learning vowels, for instance, is a challenge for any child but is particularly hard for kids with CAPD. “You have to be able to discriminate and identify vowels,” Musiek says. “If you can’t do that you are going to have problems in reading and in spelling.”
But kids with CAPD may not even be able to hear the difference between long and short vowels. “If you look at the frequency spectrum of vowels, they’re low frequency—ah, aah, ee,” says Musiek. “Guess what also is low frequency—the ambient noise in the classroom. The ambient noise in class- rooms across the United States averages 59 deci- bels. Most teachers saying vowels when they are teaching kids say them at about 60 decibels. Am- bient noise in the classroom masks a lot of the sub- tle acoustic characteristics of vowels.”