Communication is the passing of information from one person to another by any means - signs and gestures, alphabet boards, video displays, speech synthesizers, anything. All people, whatever their age, education, or ability, need to communicate. Not being able to talk doesn't mean you have nothing to say!
The inability to communicate is the most devastating of all disabilities. Without communication you can't enjoy education, have a full social life, or even ask for a drink. You are doomed to life as an observer. With communication however, you can become a participant.
Individuals are described as having severe communication impairments when their speech and handwriting are insufficient to meet their communication needs. The term is usually used in relation to people with no speech or very little intelligible speech, but it may also be applied to people whose speech, while clear and fluent, is still not meaningful or representative of their real thoughts, for example, people whose speech is *echolalic. Most people whose speech is severely impaired also have difficulty with handwriting.
*Echolalic is the immediate and involuntary repetition of words or phrases just spoken by others, often a symptom of autism or some types of schizophrenia.
Q: "What is the difference between a hearing loss and a central auditory processing deficit ?"
A: The term hearing generally refers to the operation of the parts of the ear starting at the outer ear and ending at the auditory nerve, which carries auditory information to the brain. It is at the brain level that we make use of the auditory signal. The use we make of this auditory signal is what is called central auditory processing (CAP). Children with central auditory processing deficits(CAPD), typically have normal hearing sensitivity , but experience difficulty analyzing or making sense of what they hear.
Q: Are the terms "central auditory processing" and "auditory processing" noninterchangeable?
A: Yes, the terms are currently being used interchangeably. And although not as common to popular, the terms auditory perception, central deafness, word deafness, auditory comprehension deficit, and auditory perceptual processing dysfunction have also been used.
Q: What behavioral characteristics might indicate that a child may have a CAPD?
A:Children with CAPD may demonstrate difficulties in speech, language, and/or leaning, especially in in the areas of spelling and reading. They may also appear hearing impaired, be inattentive, easily distractible, and have difficulty following oral directions.
Q: How is a CAPD diagnosed? What tests should be performed? Who should perform the testing?
A: Often the speech and language therapist is the first to assess a child who has difficulty listening and following directions, but a CAP problem cannot be completely assessed without the help of an audiologist. Both the speech and language therapist and the audiologist use standardized testing, questionnaires, and behavioral inventories to evaluating CAPD.
The speech and language therapist concentrates on evaluating the linguistic characteristics of this disorder, and the audiologist concentrates on the broader aspects of hearing. For example, the speech and language therapist would look at speech production, how well the child follows increasingly more difficult directions, discriminates speech sounds, or understands language. The audiologist would first make sure the child has normal hearing acuity, and normal middle ear function. Middle ear condition is known to affect central auditory performance and so must be assessed before more sophisticated tests can be done. The ability to understand speech in the presence of background noise, competing speech, and less than optimal listening conditions can then be tested.
Q: What is the role of CAP in learning?
A: CAP is crucial to learning. At all grade levels most information communicated in the classroom is auditory, and much casual as learning is auditory as well . By the time a child is ready for fourth grade, most auditory discrimination, speech and language development, and processing skills are mature and intact, except in children with CAPD. Taking notes becomes difficult if listening requires all of a childs attention. Remembering assignments given verbally becomes difficult if a child has an auditory memory problem.
Q: What is Facilitated Communication?
To facilitate is to make easier. In facilitated communication the task of using a communication the task of using a communication aid is made easier for a person with a severe communication impairments. The degree of facilitation needed varies from person to person, ranging from an encouraging hand on the shoulder to boost confidence, to full support and shaping of students hand to enable isolation and extension of an index finger for pointing.
Facilitation may be most useful for people with severe communication impairments who walk but cannot sign or write. They need to use small, easily portable communication aids with their hands. Such aids display a set of choices - pictures, words or letters - and the user makes selections from these choices, reducing the demands on fine motor skills, motor planning and memory. Unfortunately, many potential users do not have the pointing or selection skills necessary to use such communication aids effectively.
Facilitated pointing can provide a temporary remedy for the hand function impairments of these people and may result in a permanent improvement in hand function when used as part of a structured teaching program.