What does it feel like to be 'normal'? Having Auditory Processing Disorder, my daughter Hailey has had more than her share of experiences where she has felt not-normal. She has felt like the outsider in social groups where everyone seems to understand what is being said except her. She has felt like the 'weirdo' who says the wrong things because she recalls the wrong words when speaking. She has felt like the 'idiot' when she can't figure something out or reads slowly and the other children laugh. So feeling 'normal', or rather what she thinks other children who don't have processing disorders or learning disabilities feel, is something she craves.
This last year, Hailey started ice skating lessons. She was fortunate enough to have a private lesson for her first session because she was the only one to sign up for that level. Her coach was extremely good at teaching using visual and kinesthetic approaches with clear, concise auditory directions. What Hailey realized is that she excels at ice skating; it was easy!
The next session, Hailey ended up in a class with a different coach and other students. It was a disaster! This coach relied on auditory directions without making eye contact all the time, and the other students talking and buzzing around her made it impossible for Hailey to understand what she was supposed to do. So, being the typical mother of a child with special needs, I went to the director of the ice skating program and told her Hailey has Auditory Processing Disorder and needs visual and kinesthetic coaching with less auditory distraction. The director had never heard of APD before, but she knows it is something like a learning disability and she is familiar with that, so she decided it would be okay to make sure Hailey has lessons that aren't really private lessons, but it could be arranged to make sure she is the only one that signs up. I know this sounds confusing, but not really because there are more classes offered than students at her level, so it was just a matter of being flexible in our schedule. I also made sure to request the coach she worked with before who was so great, and the director changed her schedule to make sure that coach would teach Hailey's class. Yippee! Asking often does pay off.
So one more session of private lessons - although it wasn't called that because the program doesn't actually allow for private lessons - and Hailey was progressing remarkably fast. She passed out of the basic skills program and moved into the freestyle classes. These are arranged a little differently and she has the same coach she and I both adore, but two more students take classes with her. Each student gets one-on-one time with the coach while the others practice, so it essentially works much like private lessons. Hailey also goes to extra lessons with her coach where there are four students total and each student practices separately having their own private instruction time with the coach.
So back to the 'normal' feeling Hailey craves. In the ice skating world, Hailey feels 'normal'. She feels like she learns and progresses just like any other girl without needing anything special or different to succeed. The playing field is leveled in this area and she loves it!
(Now there is still the social aspect in the locker room, but she is easing into that slowly. The other girls seem very kind and at this point, just assume she is shy. Eventually, she'll probably tell them she has Auditory Processing Disorder and that she needs to see their faces when they talk and can only really understand when one person talks at a time. Hopefully that goes well, and truthfully I think it will. Also, her coach is always there in the locker room and she does understand APD (she said she was familiar with it when I told her), so that should help.