In order to improve the daily life of children with special needs, teachers often search for tools that help them learn and grow while still having fun in the process. Educational toys and games often serve as therapy tools for CAPD, and are great resources for children with special needs.
Characteristics of Central Auditory Processing Disorder
Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) affects 5 percent of school-aged children, according to KidsHealth.org. For many children with CAPD, it’s related to delays in maturity and development of the important auditory areas of the brain. CAPD is commonly defined as a deficiency in these behavioral capacities:
- Limited Listening Skills: A child with CAPD might have difficulty paying attention for varying amounts of time. Frequent requests for repetition or taking longer to grasp simple concepts is also a characteristic of CAPD.
- Difficulty Following Directions: Children with CAPD may often have trouble following multi-step directions that are delivered orally, especially when they hear it only once. For a child with CAPD to follow directions, each of the steps must be understood and completed one at a time before moving forward.
- Poor Organization: Poor planning and organizational skills are prime characteristics of a child with CAPD. They may not have the attention span required to plan and follow through with tasks that are more complex.
- Trouble with Reading, Spelling, and Comprehension: Although children with CAPD often prefer written instructions, they typically have poor reading and spelling skills. As a result, poor note-taking and academic performance becomes a challenge later in life.
- Easily Distracted by Sounds or other Stimuli: A child with CAPD is unusually sensitive to abrupt sounds and has difficulty comprehending direction in a loud environment. They can be easily distracted and have extreme difficulty concentrating or paying attention if there is constant background noise.
- Inability to Carry Long Conversations: Since sounds and noise easily distract a child with CAPD, they typically have a hard time carrying on long conversations. They have trouble comprehending what is being said and tend to give varying responses.
With continued support from teachers and CAPD therapists, children can develop these skills as they mature. However, in other children, the characteristics are related to differences in the way their brains develop.
Educational Toys for CAPD
Toys and games have proved to be effective tools for caregivers working with children suffering from CAPD. The ability to keep the child interested and having fun is imperative toward the development of social, auditory, and cognitive skills. Below is a comprehensive list of toys and games that can be utilized by teachers, therapists, or family members to build on these traits and encourage cognitive growth among children with CAPD:
1. Junior Puzzles
Junior puzzles are a great way to inspire a child with CAPD through stimulating images and problem solving. These puzzles encourage fine motor skills, visual recognition, logic, and patience. Junior puzzles can be found in brick and mortar stores, or downloaded online through Puzzler or Amazon.
2. See & Spell
Early reading and writing comprehension is important for the development of children with CAPD. See & Spell is designed to make reading and writing tangible. Children are able to "feel" and “see” the alphabet by associating it with objects. This game is great for confidence-building, academic development, and cognitive improvement among young children.
3. Count Your Chickens
In Count Your Chickens, the baby chicks have flown out of the coop and players must work together to help the Mother Hen bring them back to safety. Players take separate turns, but work together to reach a collective goal by counting aloud together. This teaches great teamwork and social skills that can be used in real life scenarios.
4. Mozart Magic Cube
The Mozart Music Cube has lights that begin to move with a set tempo. By touching the different sides of the cube, children with CAPD learn to use any combination of five different instruments (French horn, flute, harp, piano, and violin). The Mozart Magic Cube was designed to develop hand-eye coordination, begin the understanding of cause and effect, and satisfy their common desire for repetition.
5. Make 7
Make 7 is similar to the classic gave Connect 4. A player will drop one of his or her numbered tiles into the slots in an attempt to be the first to Make 7 in a row. Players can refine their strategies by blocking their opponents, while trying not to get blocked themselves. This is a great exercise for children with CAPD who struggle with multi-step directions or tasks.
6. Kids Story Maker
Kids Story Maker works to inspire a love for language through the practice of reading, writing, and cognitive development. Children with CAPD might be reluctant to begin writing or expand their vocabulary. Kids Story Maker makes language more approachable and fun through the use of magnets, while helping the child develop reading and writing skills more efficiently.
7. Draw 4: Dig for Dinos
Draw 4: Dig for Dinos allows the player to lay out a fictional paleontological dig site, and start looking for dinosaur skeletons. The eight different dinosaurs are each built from four cards, and they are color coded to help the player learn which bones go together to make the complete skeleton. This helps children with CAPD build on their memory, attention span, and teamwork skills that will benefit them as they grow.
Simon is the classic game from 1978 that was designed to increase memory function. By using four basic colors, children are tasked with remembering the color and sound sequence with increasing difficulty. Simon will keep adding colors and sound as long as the player repeats them back correctly. This game is perfect for building on memory, comprehension, and attention. It can be played anywhere, whether in the car, doctor’s office, school, or in the comfort of home.
9. Guess Who?
Guess Who? is another classic game that encourages a player to build on their memory and problem solving skills in order to win the game. Children are taught to ask questions while narrowing down characters to solve the mystery of their opponent’s identity. The wacky characters, welcoming colors, and ease-of-play make Guess Who? an approachable game that can be greatly beneficial toward their development.
10. Smarty Pants – The Series (Preschool – Grade 5)
Smarty Pants is easily distinguished by their pants-shaped boxes and brightly colored games. With over 100 fun games, brainteasers, and puzzles, Smarty Pants provides a robust amount of knowledge for children (from preschool up to 5th grade). Their wide selection of games and questions help with cognitive development, memory, reading, spelling, and problem solving.
Assisting Children with CAPD
The toys and games listed above are designed to help with the development of all children. For those with Central Auditory Processing Disorder, these games can greatly improve quality of life through practice, repetition, and focused learning. Caregivers can use these games to build on speech, social skills, memory, attention, and organization for children with special needs while establishing a healthy appreciation for learning and development.
For more information on how you can help children with special needs, see “The Complete Guide to Being Hired as a Special Education Teacher.”