Hello! This blog is about my daughter Hailey (currently 12 years old) and her experiences living with auditory processing disorder. Auditory Processing Disorder is Hailey's primary issue, however she has also been given the labels Sensory Processing Disorder, Dyslexia, Visual Processing Disorder, Mixed Expressive Receptive Language Disorder and Phonology Disorder at various points in her life.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

I Don't Want To Be Cute - I Want To Be Heard (The Speaking Slip-Ups of APD)

Recently Hailey (my intelligent, well-spoken, teenage daughter with auditory processing disorder) and I had a discussion about being heard - truly heard by people.  She mentioned how she doesn't like it when people laugh when she says something "wrong" or substitutes the wrong word when speaking - like restaurant for restroom.  Everyone knows what she meant and so to point it out to her is really not very thoughtful.  However, when confronted by this, those same people always remark that they are not being unkind but they simply think it is "cute". 

I remember growing up and having the same experiences.  I was seven years old when my family moved from Massachusetts to Georgia in the mid-seventies.  Not only did I have to learn how to listen to people's thick southern accents and understand them, but people judged me based on my thick Boston accent; I was called a "Yankee" and teased and sometimes even ostracized.  So I immediately got to work on losing that Boston accent and learning the southern one.  It worked and within no time at all, people didn't even realize I was a "Yankee" and I was treated much better.

When I was eleven, my family moved from Georgia to California.  This time, I had no problem understanding the Californians and their non-accent, but again my accent - my southern accent this time, caused me some anguish.  Whenever I would speak, people would laugh and ask me to "Say that again."  It infuriated me that they weren't listening to what I was saying but rather how I was saying it.  I was continually told how "cute" my accent was and I didn't like it.  I wanted my words to be heard and my meanings to be understood.  I did not want to be "cute".  So again, I immediately got to work on changing my accent.

People with auditory processing disorder (APD) can't just change their accent; they can work hard at learning proper speech and yet slip-ups happen.  Hailey had private, very-expensive and very valuable speech therapy for eight years.  She has a tremendously good sense of grammar and a large vocabulary.  She no longer has any phonological issues.  However, her APD can cause her to substitute words or mispronounce a word - even though she knows it to be wrong when pointed out to her.  It's just the way it is with auditory processing disorder and using context, any listener can easily figure out what she means.

Like anyone - especially an intelligent young woman with a voice that wants to speak and be heard, people with APD don't want their voice to be dismissed lightly as "cute" or to be discriminated against as someone with less intelligence than they have.  They want you to listen to their meaning! Like the rest of us, they want to feel heard and respected.

So please remember to listen respectfully and keep any unwanted side comments to yourself. Don't make judgements based on how the person speaks but listen to what the person is saying.  And even if you think you are not being harmful by pointing it out, be aware that perhaps you are offending that person after all.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Let Your APD Kid Watch the Movie BEFORE Reading the Book

We had an interesting discussion today on our (Central) Auditory Processing Disorder Support Group about watching movies BEFORE reading the book.

Remember in school how the teachers always made you read the book first and then you got to see the movie; it was the prize after the book was read.  We were told how it was better that we use our own minds to visualize the characters and the scenes before some movie producer does it for us. Being a strong reader, I never questioned this and always did as I was told.  I visualized quite well in my head what I was reading and so didn't feel I needed the movie - it was just a simple pleasure at the end, like dessert after a good meal.

However, our kids with auditory processing disorder aren't usually what one would call a "strong" reader.  They struggle with language processing and often have more difficulty reading and comprehending larger pieces of fiction or non-fiction for that matter.  Their world often relies on visuals and experiences to make meaning.  That is why we give them multi-sensory learning experiences.  That is why we teach math visually.  That is why we incorporate kinesthetics into memorizing facts.

So it only makes sense that watching the movie BEFORE reading the book would aid tremendously in their comprehension and facility in reading the book.

I hadn't really thought enough about this before.  I just noticed anecdotally that my daughter enjoys and comprehends books better that she has previously watched the movie for.  Then when other parents were commenting on the same evidence in their own children, it clicked.

When I was a first grade teacher, I remember learning in my educator prep classes that the thought was children who don't have experiences with the subject matter have more difficulty comprehending the stories.  It has to do with what is called scaffolding and how the brain interprets and retains information. The more experience we have with a topic, the easier it is for our brains to understand and store new information related to that topic.  Think about it - the topics you know well you probably just breeze through learning more about while the ones you are unfamiliar with take a lot longer to read, figure out, and remember in the long run.

So keeping this in mind, we can utilize all we have to help our kids comprehend what they read better.  They can watch the movies.  They can watch documentaries on the topics like Ancient Egypt if that is what they are learning or The Great Depression if that is what the story in the novel is about. They can go to the beach and see tidal pools (if you live nearby) before studying about them in school.  All this multi-sensory exposure helps tremendously!

So to wrap up this rather longish post of me talking about the obvious of using visual and kinesthetic experiences and materials to help our children with auditory processing disorder learn best, I'll just say:

Let them watch the movie BEFORE reading the book!

(And if they are anything like my daughter, they'll watch the movie, watch it again, read the book, and then watch the movie again, and then want to discuss how the book and movie are different.  Along the way, they'll figure out how language and visuals connect, build their reading comprehension skills, understand how interpretation works, how time constraints play into productions, what is considered relevant to the plot and what is not  and therefore can be left out of the movie, etc.  All is good!)


Monday, March 31, 2014

Hailey (Teenager with APD) Started Her Own Business Selling Dreamcatchers



So yes, this is blatant advertising.  My sweet girl is wanting to sell her work and share her art with others.  Her Facebook page "HaileyDreams" is also administered by her (with me watching over as she is only 13) and she posts wonderfully inspiring quotes along with pictures of her latest dreamcatchers and some of her other art as well.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Slide Presentation in Common Language on What Auditory Processing Disorder Is (for your friends, family, teachers, etc.)


My dear friend Lynda Waller whom is also co-author of the book Same Journey Different Paths; Stories of Auditory Processing Disorder, created this fantastic slide presentation for auditory processing disorder (also known as central auditory processing disorder).  I hope you find it as beneficial as I do.























Saturday, January 4, 2014

Being a Teenager and Socializing with Auditory Processing Disorder - It's Very Difficult!

How is it that I can send my sweet girl of 13 over to a teen night at a friend's house full of happiness and hope and feeling good about herself only to pick her up in tears.  This auditory processing disorder keeps making her social life so hard!

She has never handled group socializing very well because she simply cannot keep up with the quick processing needed to talk in a group.  She can't "jump in" because she can't even decipher half the time what she is jumping into and by the time she does, the moment has passed and it is too late.

The last time, she came home telling me how a nice boy (the host of the party) told her she could get a drink.  She said no thank you and was processing what to say to "keep the conversation going" (we've been working on conversational strategies), but she said he turned and walked away before she could get the words out of her mouth.

Another group problem for her with auditory processing disorder is the sheer noise of too many people talking at once.  She says that she cannot even hear her own voice well and doesn't want to shout (shouting to her feels aggressive and she can't stand the sound of it when others do it and so certainly doesn't want to do it herself) but she thinks maybe people don't hear her because when she says hello or tries to speak to someone, she said they often ignore her like she's not even there.

So I keep scouring the internet for advice but always come up empty-handed.  Her and I can practice good social skills all we want, but others do not follow the same plan and so it just doesn't work.  Teenagers do not socialize according to proper manners or etiquette.  Teenagers do not take on the responsibility of making sure everyone is included or wait for someone to process a response - they move on quickly to the next excitement beckoning them.  This is normal for teenagerdome - and really most of human interactions in general.

So the teenager that cannot process auditory input or output quickly, who cannot decipher words among a cacophony of talking, and who already feels like all this auditory is difficult and stressful enough already...........well, that teenager has to find an alternative plan.  We're working on it!

click here to see the blog post at adpwarrior17 from which this quote was taken

*** I'm sure Hailey would love to hear how other teenagers with auditory processing disorder (or adults who have lived through it) are coping socially in their lives.  So if you have a story to share or some helpful advice or even just the pep talk of "It get's better", please share.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Que Sera Sera ---- Can we help calm the anxiety over the future that comes with the teenage years?

Lately my sweet girl has been asking me what her life will be like when she grows up.  Will she be married; will she have children; will she be an occupational therapist or should she do something else; will college be hard; will she find a job; will she live near me; and on and on.

Usually I tell her that she will do what she wants to do and if she wants to get married, then she will, etc.  I tell her that we make our paths in life by our actions and our hearts and that she must follow her heart and do what seems right to her.  In the end though, my comforting words don't provide her much comfort; it's all just too abstract perhaps for her age (just turned 13).

So lately that wonderfully simple song sung by Doris Day, "Que Sera Sera" has been sneaking its way into my thoughts.  I wonder if these words would provide more comfort in their sheer statement of relax, don't worry, live and see what happens - a sort of wu wei* respect:

"Que Sera, Sera"

When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother
What will I be
Will I be pretty
Will I be rich
Here's what she said to me

Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be

When I grew up and fell in love
I asked my sweetheart
What lies ahead
Will we have rainbows
Day after day
Here's what my sweetheart said

Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be

Now I have Children of my own
They ask their mother
What will I be
Will I be handsome
Will I be rich
I tell them tenderly

Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be
Que Sera, Sera

YouTube link to hear song: Que Sera Sera by Doris Day


How do you relieve your child's anxieties over the future?  



*Wu Wei (press on the words wu wei here or above to go to the Wikipedia definition): Wu wei is a Taoist concept that when one lives in harmony with the Tao (nature, the natural way of things, truth, and any other concept of spiritual oneness), one responds effortlessly to any situations that arise and follows one's true path of being.  It is often interpreted as "non-action" but this is too misleading I believe when one comes from a western philosophical mindset.  Anyway, please forgive me if I have not done justice in my definition here.----- I loved my eastern philosophy classes back in my college days.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Having APD and Being Overwhelmed By Classes

So I told you all that I would keep you updated on Hailey's progress in taking academic type classes for the first time....

My sweet girl Hailey has auditory processing disorder, is homeschooled, almost 13, and decided to try taking some classes at a local homeschool center.  She signed up for 4 classes that meet one day a week.  At first, she was very excited about "going to school" and she loved seeing her friends and going to class with them and eating lunch together.  However, it didn't take long before the novelty wore off and she was simply overwhelmed.

Her creative writing class ended up being so bad she had to quit.  The teacher did not understand her needs and did a lot of auditory teaching (lecturing) without enough visual support for Hailey. None of the homework assignments were ever written down despite my speaking to the teacher, the principal, and even writing a letter to the principal which was then forwarded on to the other administrative staff.  Futhermore, the teacher started seeing Hailey as a troublemaker because I, her mother, was constantly asking for more than this teacher wanted to give.  The teacher had an attitude around Hailey and never said one nice word to her or about her work ever, nor did she meet any of our requests.  Hailey was in tears just thinking about having to go and so we decided to just quit that class.  

So Hailey continued to take tennis, art, and theater improv.  The theater improv was not ideal, but it was working; this teacher was willing to make accommodations and find ways for Hailey to be successful in the class.  For instance, she was able to recite a smaller memorized poem in class and to do it in sign language as well as speaking - which actually helped Hailey remember it better.

Lunch, which Hailey originally thought was exciting, quickly became "too noisy", "too many kids" and she felt she had to eat "too fast."  Yesterday she actually asked me to stay and eat lunch with her in our car so that she could get away from it all and relax.

The classes are 12 weeks long and we have 2 more to go at this point.  Hailey is really no longer interested in the classes and is simply finishing them up to have completed them.  She has found that it takes so much energy just to be in the classes and try to process everything, that she is not sure it is worth the effort.  She comes home exhausted and needs the whole next day just to unwind.

Unfortunately, she has also stopped putting so much effort into socializing with her friends at class and she just wants to avoid them.  This makes me sad because she really likes these kids, but she is just too exhausted to try anymore.  Yesterday she looked like she was practically cowering away from them as she held her head low and visibly shrunk her body as far away from them as she could; she never acts this way!

Despite it all, she still wants to take community college classes in a few years. She said she just wants to make sure she never has more than one class in a day.