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.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Sometimes, it just drops."

My ten year old daughter with Auditory Processing Disorder wants me to let people know that sometimes the things she knows just "drop" from her head.  She says this especially happens with math.

So I thought today I would try to explain what she is talking about.  With Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), the short term memory is affected.  Recalling information can be extremely difficult and to the outsider, it can appear as if the person with APD knows something, then doesn't know it, then knows it again, only to seemingly forget it the next second.  

I remember when Hailey was younger and I just didn't fully grasp this concept yet.  I would be dumbfounded by the things I could swear she knew just a second ago and she would act like she'd never seen/heard of it before.  Frustrating is an understatement!

So now that Hailey is 10, she herself understands that this is just a part of APD.  She gets frustrated when she can't remember something that she feels she should know.  I reckon it is like the expression "on the tip of one's tongue" where you just can't remember despite all your attempts to do so.  

So our best method of dealing with these moments is to say "oh, it must be dropped" and try to not worry about it, knowing that it will be found again.  With math, I can usually start to re-explain it and her brain will suddenly remember before I even get finished. When it is something she wants to say, well, we just have to wait until she remembers.

Luckily, eventually things make it into her long term memory where she can remember them and utilize them much easier.  We just have to be patient.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Coping with our Children's Distress

Hailey went to an audition today for a homeschooling play.  She did really well, but she felt that she didn't and so she started crying quietly in the audition room.  We went to the restroom so she could collect herself, but she ended up only feeling worse and didn't want to return to the room.  However, she desperately wants to be in the play and so I convinced her to go back and give it a chance.  Once in the room, she was asked if she wanted to come up on stage and read again, but she started to break down.  So, I quickly went up to the director to explain that she has Auditory Processing Disorder which is something like Dyslexia (I know there is so much more to it, but people tend to understand Dyslexia and not APD) and that she felt she didn't do well before and is now feeling rather scared, but wants to be in the play if at all possible.  Luckily, the director of this play is super understanding and told me that she thought Hailey did fine, that Hailey didn't need to read again, and that she would definitely receive a part in the play.  Whew!

So, I went back to Hailey who was doing everything in her power to not absolutely break down in hysterics while tears were quietly slipping from her eyes.  We walked out of the room and she let it all go, crumpling in my arms, repeating "I was so scared".  My wife and I managed to somehow get her to the car where she sobbed uncontrollably and informed us how we simply just do not understand.  After much reassurance and some really spicy peppermints to distract her (she gets comfort from extreme tastes), we managed to get home, convince her she did a good job, assure her that she would have a part in the play, and that it would get less scary with time.

Now she is out in the back yard jumping on the trampoline with her best friend while I am still trying to recover from the ordeal myself.  It is so difficult to see your child in so much distress.  I watch the other mothers sit in the back room chatting aimlessly while their children with no special needs just get up on a stage and read easily from a play they have never seen before.  They know their children will handle it.  With auditory processing disorder, a cold reading in front of a large group of strangers all the while trying to keep track of who is speaking when and trying to process not only what to say when but what it means and therefore how to express it appropriately is simply a nightmare.  Yet, this is the way it is done.

I am extremely proud of Hailey for even attempting such a difficult task.  Despite all the difficulties, she really didn't do all that bad.  Still, I can't help but feel how scary that whole situation really was for her.  I wish there would have been a different way of doing it all.

In the end, due to an understanding director, Hailey will be able to have the experience of acting in a play - an experience she really wants to have.  We will practice her lines and I'll be there to support her every step of the way.  Now I just need to find the calm down solution for me - the mommy who will handle all the emotions and keep everything running as smoothly as can possible be expected.

-originally written September 8, 2011 in my personal blog

Camp Update: Bravely Being Herself Despite Being Shunned by the "Popular Girls"

I posted a couple posts back about our daughter Hailey going to camp with auditory processing disorder.  She was extremely excited to go to camp and looked forward to making new friends and having fun with a group of girls her age.

Well, I had to pick her up early three days into camp.  She called me crying about the miserable time she was having and despite the counselors trying to tell me to just leave her there and she'd "probably" end up having fun "eventually", I drove over and got her.  What can I say, I'm an attachment parent and trust is a highly valued commodity in our home.  (Later Hailey told me how the other girls were telling her that no parents ever come to pick their kids up early.  Hailey told them, "My mom will."  I'm really, really glad that I did.)

So to make a longish story shortish, Brooke, the girl I had left Hailey talking to at camp that first day, had decided to befriend another girl at camp and left Hailey in the dust.  Once she found the other girl, she wouldn't even speak to Hailey anymore.  So Hailey did her best to try to make other friends.  Unfortunately, Hailey said she would be doing well talking with a girl and then the girl would go find someone else.

Typical to preteen girls, there was a "popular group" formed in the cabin and you guessed it, Hailey was left out.  According to Hailey, Brooke was the perceived leader of the group and she made rules about who could be in and who could not.  The first rule was that no girls with cell phones could be in the group. (The cabin of 20 girls had only 3 that brought cell phones.  Hailey had a cell phone.)

Some of the girls made fun at the way Hailey mispoke some words and when Hailey had to go to the bathroom, no one would be her buddy.  They weren't allowed to go alone.  When Hailey asked the counselor, she was told to just ask another girl and so eventually Hailey found a group going and just snuck in with them. (My smart girl was certainly resourceful.)

Apparently, Hailey also told the girls about homeschooling and having two moms and eating a gluten-free diet.    My first thought was how I might as well have put a "kick me" sign on her back, but these are the facts to her life and I am really proud that she isn't afraid to share them.

So with all that was happening socially to Hailey, one would venture to guess that she shriveled up like a victim.  Well, I am happy to say that she did not!  In fact, when it came time to sing karaoke, Hailey volunteered and got up in front of everyone to sing.  (Now that is what I call brave!)  Hailey kept trying to talk to girls and befriend them.  She did her best to enjoy the activities: horseback riding being her favorite.  But, eventually, it did wear on her.

When her counselors neglected to tell her about the bike tour she signed up for and she missed it, Hailey finally decided that she had enough.  She was the only one in her cabin that had paid the extra money and signed up for the tour and so, apparently, the counselors just left it off their radar.  Hailey loves to ride bikes and she was especially looking forward to this part of camp.  It was just too much disappointment.

After coming home and destressing for a bit, Hailey took out a paper plate that had words written all over it.  It was an activity where the girls were told to write something nice about each girl on the plate that was passed around for them.  Hailey had the expected "your pretty" and "I like your hair" type comments, but she also had two that really stuck out to me.  "I like how she isn't scared to be herself." and "youd stand for who you are".  Hailey and I discussed how special and wonderful these comments are.  I think it really made her feel good to realize that she may not have been allowed in the "popular group" and some girls may have made fun of her for her auditory processing and speech problems, but she had something remarkably better: she was brave, she was proud, and she was herself.  Not only that, but at least two other girls took notice and perhaps they will feel safe enough some day to be theirselves - no matter what the "popular girls" say.

-originally written July 22, 2011 in my personal blog

Our Brave Daughter: Auditory Processing Disorder Doesn't Stop Her From Jumping Into Social Situations

If you've been following my blog or are at all familiar with my family, you know that our daughter has Auditory Processing Disorder.  In simple terminology,"People with APD intermittently experience an inability to process verbal information. When people with APD have a processing failure, they do not process what is being said to them. There are also many other hidden implications, which are not always apparent even to the person with the disability. For example, because people with APD are used to guessing to fill in the processing gaps, they may not even be aware that they have misunderstood something." (Wikipedia)

So today I dropped our daughter Hailey off at summer camp.  It is a one week girls' overnight camp with a variety of activities including horse back riding and bike riding, which are the two things Hailey is most looking forward to, other than meeting new friends.

Once Hailey got settled into her cabin, one of her cabin mates came over to say hello.  Her name was Brooke and she was a darling red-headed 11 year old with a very cute asymmetrical hair cut.  Over in the corner, her mother was prompting her with hand signals and mouthing the words "Go ahead".  In turn, I turned Hailey around to be looking at Brooke; she had been facing the other way and hadn't realized Brooke was talking to her.  The two girls started making introductions and Brooke's mom quickly waved good bye while exiting the building.

Being the mom that I am, I stepped back a few feet from the girls and tried to inconspicuously watch the conversation that ensued.  Brooke was telling Hailey all about her knowledge of the camp as this was her third summer.  She was also expressing her hope that the theme this year will be Harry Potter as Brooke is a huge Harry Potter fan.  I could tell that Hailey was getting most of what Brooke was saying, but she wasn't catching all of it.  You see, Hailey has a "tell" when she is having difficulty processing what is being said; she repeats the last few words she heard.  This serves double duty as it makes it appear as if Hailey is understanding what is being said, while it slows down the speaker from moving too quickly onto the next sentence.

When I saw Hailey's "tell", my Momma's instincts made me want to jump in and rescue her.  I wanted to get into the conversation and control the flow so that I could ensure Hailey was processing all of it.  However, I am wise enough to know that this would do way more harm than good to Hailey.  Hailey is ten, and a ten year old girl does not want her mother jumping into her conversations.  I am sure this would not do well for her socially. So as hard as it was for me to watch her struggle, I knew I must let her work this on her own.

So like Brooke's mom before me, I took my cue to leave the girls to their own and quickly said my good-byes.  While I walked away, I realized just how immensely proud I am of our daughter.  Despite the difficulties her auditory processing disorder causes her, she bravely jumps right into social situations. She's learned coping techniques, and she doesn't let APD stop her from doing everything and anything she wants.

- originally written July 17, 2011 in my personal blog