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.

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.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Auditory Processing Disorder: The World is Not as Accommodating as We Moms Are

Since Hailey has been taking classes at the homeschool center once a week, I am getting to sit back and just watch her experiences and interactions in ways I haven't before.  I have always been right there beside her, helping her throughout it all.  Now, I see her sit in her class and listen to the teacher (I got to sit in on a class today).  I see her in the hallways.  I see the other children in the classrooms.  I see the other children in the hallways.

I am starting to feel emotions that I haven't felt for a while now.  I am realizing just how much we have organized our family and our homeschooling and even our socializing to accommodate her needs as a person with auditory processing disorder.  We don't even realize we are doing it anymore!  It has become so natural to us.

At "school" (the homeschool center), no one accommodates her needs (not that some of them don't try - they do).  The teacher talks and walks around the room, rambling in long sentences that are circular in theme and connected by only simple threads and tangents as she weaves her web of a story to showcase the point she wants to make.  There is nothing wrong in this way the teacher is talking; in fact it is a very common way people talk when they are just "speaking off the cuff" or rather just talking without a plan of what exactly they are wanting to say and how to get to it.  The other children just listen and seem to follow along to some extent.  Some of the kids jump in with responses to her story or sharing of their own similar experiences.  It is casual and free and a lovely open discussion.  However, for someone with auditory processing disorder, it is too hard to follow. The linearity of the story is lost as moments and details are remembered and added in.  The purpose for listening is lost as it is told at the end rather than the beginning.  The jumping in of others (which brings an interactive component for the other children) just makes it that much more confusing as new stories are presented in the middle of the unfinished original one.  I felt sorry for my sweetheart sitting there lost and bored, I imagined.  The other kids could appreciate the conversational style, but my child with auditory processing disorder found nothing but confusion in it.

In the hallways, the children stand and chat with one another.  Their voices mix and mingle like a choreographed dance of speakers seeming to talk over one another and yet all seem to still be able to follow and understand.  They laugh and smile and seem genuinely happy to be there with one another.  My sweetie with auditory processing disorder stands there lost, with vacant eyes and in silence. Someone will smile at her or touch her shoulder and she will momentarily smile and her eyes will light up, only to hide again in the din of the conversation.  When I ask her about it, she says she likes the kids, but she doesn't understand what they say.

Inside my momma bear wants to barge in to every situation and say "Talk slower.  Talk in phrases. Make sure she understands before you move on.  Don't talk over one another. Use visuals." Yet, I know this is not the right approach.  My sweet girl is almost 13 and she will run into this her entire life!  She has to decide how she wants to handle it, if she wants to handle it.

For classes, of course, we can ask for accommodations that will help her to learn what she wants to learn and do the assignments.  In social exchanges, she will have to speak up and ask others to slow down when she wants or just not understand when she doesn't feel the need to understand but simply to just be there. With her good friends, she does ask them to repeat themselves or speak slower or explain things if she doesn't understand.  In just the group-you-find-yourself-in situations, she says she doesn't really care.

So all this long ramble is to say that I, the mom, am feeling distressed by her situation.  She, the one with auditory processing disorder, is actually handling it all better than me.  She doesn't expect to understand everything and she's okay with that.

Meanwhile, I'm hiring a private sign language tutor to see if this will help her in any way.  She likes the sign language she has taught herself through books and videos, so we're going to try diving more into this as a possible option.  (Update:  I have been reading that "language disorders" (such as Mixed Expressive Receptive Language Disorder which Hailey was diagnosed with at age 6) often cross over into sign language as well as oral language.  Bummer!  We will still pursue the sign language, though, as it might prove helpful all the same.  I'll be sure to let you all know.)