Mon. May 16th, 2022

Photo credits: Elizabeth Roberts.

Central Auditory Processing Disorder is not a common disorder. I mean sure, it’s not extremely rare, but it’s also something that very few people know about. As someone who has this disability, I know it can be difficult. 

What is Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)? 

This neurological disability is similar to dyslexia, but they are still completely different. While those with dyslexia interpret specific words differently, I sometimes misidentify certain words due to hearing them wrong. For instance, ordering off a menu at a noisy restaurant or talking to a friend at a rave party are not my go-to places for having a conversation.  

According to research conducted by the Postsecondary National Policy Institute, “21% of undergraduate students and 12% of post baccalaureate students enrolled part-time or for part of the academic year report having a disability. 17% of undergraduate students and 12% of post baccalaureate students enrolled full-time through the year report having a disability.” Auditory Processing Disorder only makes up a small percentage of these results.  

However, using resources to try to assist my needs can be complicated. For example, using captioning on videos can sometimes help tremendously, while other times, it can be more of a distraction.

According to the article, “It’s a Constant Fight,” published under the Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, many great points were made about what it’s like dealing with this disorder. “Other participants described accessing different types of services (e.g., support groups, academic accommodations, audiobooks), but noted that these services ‘just didn’t work’ or even perpetuated ‘a counterproductive negative cycle’ of failure.”

Now that’s not to say I don’t need captioning, but at the same time, it can be a challenge to know when is the right time to utilize it or not. 

I do have to thank and appreciate every professor I have had so far. Setting up a zoom meeting in the classrooms for the captioner to join has never been an easy task for either them or someone from the IT-help desk who consistently comes in to help set it up. They have always been supportive and kind towards my needs and I am truly grateful for each of my teachers’ patience through this process. 

Along with having some complications, I also try to find humor in even the most awkward situations. Sometimes, I get super nervous that I may miss some essential information, so I usually go to my professors to ask them way too many questions.  

A professor I had was talking to a few other students. After asking him several questions every day throughout the course of just one month, as I was next in line and approached him for the 31st day of school, he sighed and asked what I needed this week.  

Sometimes you just need to laugh at yourself. Whether it’s asking professors questions, emailing them or just meeting with them every so often several times a week, you start to learn that there is a reason why someone in my position is doing this.  

That extra help is necessary because I may miss a lot of information without it. Exams are usually on what the professor talks about, not just what’s on the powerpoint slide. I’m not deaf, but I definitely seem to miss a lot of what the professor talks about.  

What’s even more interesting about this disorder is the fact that it’s not visible. Indeed, there are other disabilities that can’t be seen; however, this particular disability is not talked about at all in any school district that I know of. Besides that, no one really knows what it is. 

No one seems to understand this, and I do not expect them to. How could they? I barely understand what I have. No one can understand each other, and they should never feel like they should. I will never expect anyone to know exactly what it’s like to walk in my shoes.  

It’s not just in my classes where I have a hard time. Making friends can be just as difficult. Having a conversation when there’s a noisy background is not ideal. Having people repeatedly repeat themselves can be uncomfortable.  

This causes me to have a lot of anxiety as a result. I tend to keep quiet because I fear I will be judged or made fun of for not understanding or hearing what someone is saying. It’s a complicated situation that many people, including myself, are put through.  

Not to mention, reaching out to the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (OSSD), about getting a captioner for each of my classes, asking for a notetaker for some courses and even trying to set up tutoring with someone at the Learning Assistance & Resource Center (LARC) can be a bit overwhelming. Plus, there’s a lot more that I must do in order for my accommodations to be met with. 

I want to feel like any other student who gets to participate in as many clubs, activities and even jobs as possible, but I sometimes feel restricted. However, that never stopped me from joining and experiencing so much.  

Regardless, I still manage to do a lot. I write articles and participate in podcasts with the Quad, I volunteer with the Golden Ram Society where we learn about marketing and networking strategies, I am the secretary of the Photography Club and I have a job as a New Street Catering employee. 

I do all of this with a disability where I face any challenge that comes my way, and I will continue to do so. I want to represent everyone who goes through similar situations like myself, and I want them to know that it will work out. You just need to put in the work, take risks and be proud of what you accomplish. 

Sean Wattman is a first-year Psychology major with a minor in journalism. 

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