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, September 11, 2012

Coping Strategies For Auditory Processing Disorder in Everyday Life

I promised to write a post about coping strategies for Auditory Processing Disorder in terms of just living everyday life.  This is something we have come to over time and developed and changed according to Hailey’s needs at each stage of her life.  Some we learned from therapists, some from experimentation, and some from the helpful advice of other people dealing with APD in their lives or that of their child’s. 

As an almost twelve year old girl, here are some strategies she employs today:
  1. She had to learn to not compare herself to children who do not have learning disabilities and to realize that she is incredibly smart and capable to be able to learn all that she does and do as great as she does even with her APD.
  2. She had to learn how to manage her day to not be too overwhelmed: not too much socializing or too much having to listen to things. She takes quiet breaks and alone time as needed.
  3. She had to learn destressing techniques that help her such as chewing gum (it relaxes her), or smelling something beautiful (she really likes lavender and has some oil she can place on anything to carry around and smell as desired).
  4. She focuses on spending one on one time with friends so that she can manage the conversations and feel comfortable and confident.
  5. When she has to be in a group of friends, she tries to focus on one kid if possible, and if it is too overwhelming, she finds a way to leave the group without appearing rude. (This is a new one for her and not always easy, but she is trying.)
  6. We do math in small increments so as not to be overwhelming, use visuals, and I do not talk too much (We homeschool).
  7. We watch documentaries and do hands on learning for a lot of science and social studies.
  8. My daughter loves graphic novels/manga books and this has greatly advanced her reading confidence, skills, and she feels like it is a typical pre-teen/teenage girl thing to do as the topics are geared towards that age group.
  9. She found an activity that does not require processing auditory input so much and she has a level field with the other kids. This helps her to feel "normal". (It is figure skating for her.)
As a young child, we the parents had to employs strategies to help her cope with her days.  We had to regulate her activity level, environment, and stress levels.   Here are some strategies we used then:
  1. We scheduled her day to have auditory breaks where she did not have to listen.
  2. We used a sensory diet throughout her day to manage her stress levels; when overwhelmed she would check out from reality and sit in a dazed like state or have major meltdowns.
  3. When we had to go to a noisy environment, we used noise reducing headphones, made sure to massage her legs or arms to keep her focused, and protected her from the demands of others. (For example, when the lady at the checkout wanted to ask her questions and she just could not process them, we would answer for her while smiling at her, rubbing her legs, and reassuring her as she got extremely anxious when people spoke to her.)
  4. We used picture cards, eye contact, and small phrases only to communicate with her so she would know what we were talking about.(She also required a physical touch to make sure she was aware we were talking to her.)
  5. We planned for transitions (going from one activity or environment to the next) by interacting with her at her level, using picture cards, doing sensory diet activities to help her deal with her anxiety, and making sure we brought whatever she needed to bring with her to help her remain calm. (She had a special blanket that we put scents on that she carried everywhere.  We also had chewy toys and strong tasting mints or candies (a sensory calming strategy for her) to give to her as needed.)
  6. When it came to academics (or just learning things like language when she was very young), we limited her time to just what she could handle; we used a lot of visuals and kinesthetics to help her understand; we made sure to give her a long amount of time to actually process what she learned; and we repeated things as often as necessary until she got them.
  7.  In social situations, we always stayed with her to provide support as needed, and we gave her tools to help her navigate them.  For example, she needed to have the practiced phrase, “Hello, My name is Hailey.  What is your name?” at first.  We also taught her other stock phrases that helped her tremendously like “Do you want to play with me?” and “I like your ______”. (As she got older, we were able to communicate with her how to go with the flow more in socializing and as her receptive and expressive speech skills grew, she was able to not have to use stock phrases anymore.)
  8. We made sure all our family and friends were aware of her needs and did not place expectations on her that would create anxiety for her. (This was not readily accepted, but over time it was.)
  9. We worked with specialists such as a speech and language therapist, an occupational therapist, an audiologist who specializes in auditory processing disorder, and a special education preschool to implement therapies to help her.

As I read about the experiences of teenagers and young adults, I know that she will have to learn and incorporate more strategies as well as alter the ones she has now to fit new situations.  So as new situations and environments arise, we'll do research, ask others for advice, and do what we can.


  1. What a blessing to come across your blog. Just reading your post above has given me some hope. I am struggling with my own 12 year old daughter who has been diagnosed with APD. I know I will enjoy receiving your updates and being encouraged. Thank you for setting up this blog. I'm wiping my tears anow and going to try and be positive and focussed on this journey getting better!
    Sandra nz

  2. Thank you for the beautiful message. I have a twelve year old son with auditory processing. As of lately, I have had a lot of issues with discipline. He has become unmotivated at school, and doesn't listen well at home. Have you ever experienced any of these problems? Any information you have would help greatly. Thank you, A.

    1. My guess is that he might need a break; he might be just feeling so overwhelmed that he is not trying because he is lacking the energy, will power, or belief in himself to do so. Is there a way he can have more control over his day that is acceptable to everyone? Maybe he needs some time to just do his own thing or maybe he is feeling a little low in the self-esteem area because he cannot keep up with the wants of others on him? He is probably also experiencing the hormones of puberty (I have a 12 year old boy at this point in time too) and those can be difficult to understand and manage at first. My instinct would be to give him some space, be supportive, and let him know that you are there for him. If he is not doing things that you need him to do, let him know why you need him to do those things and express understanding that people don't always want to do what they need to do and you'd like to help him find a way to work through that. I hope this is helpful to you in some way. I wish you the best of luck. <3

  3. My son is 4yrs old and I have always known something was special about him. We finally have him in speech therapy and they suspect CAPD. The more I learn about this disorder the more I realize that this is his struggle. His brother is only 19months younger. Its a hand full everyday. The young one is learning the bad habits of the older boy. I am at a lost at how to discipline them. Huckleberry (my 4yr old) is going to need "special" attention and consideration. How do I do it without my youngest, Jasper, feeling like his brother is getting away with stuff? Help please.

    1. We had twins and for the most part, Hailey's twin brother was very accommodating of Hailey's needs. They also have a younger brother who is 3 years younger. We did implement a sensory diet into Hailey's life when she was 2 years old and we just did it for the other 2 as they wanted it. So if Hailey had a meltdown and needed her legs rubbed and a candy to suck on, we would offer the same things to her brothers if they wanted them. When we wrapped Hailey up like a burrito, we wrapped up her brothers too; they thought it was great fun. We gave her the extra help dealing with transitions and so they got it too to some extent as they were there. We implemented the notion that people get stressed and need things to help them calm down with all of them. We talked about Hailey needing it quieter as noise stressed her and I remember sometimes one of the boys would insist they needed something too and we would play along with them as what they really needed was to feel that we were there to accommodate their needs as well; their needs never lasted very long. So I guess I never really thought about it as a discipline thing. I sometimes worried that I was giving more attention to her than her brothers and then I would make a point to spend more one-on-one time with each of them.

      What issues are you dealing with? Is Huckleberry having meltdowns? Does he get special privileges that Jasper doesn't?

  4. Hi Bev, I see that this blog is dated 2 years ago and that your daughter was 12 then which I would assume that she is now 14 (yr 2014). My daughter is 14 also and has the same diagnosis as well as the additional diagnosis that you listed above in your heading , she has as well. I need help with helping her and if only I had found this blog 2 years ago maybe she wouldn't be struggling. I wondered if I could connect with you another way like email or even through Face Book? I like IM through FB the best because its instant gratification on response time with communication. If you wouldn't mind looking me up or emailing me at traciclem@yahoo.com I would love to hear an updated version of this journey you and I undoubtedly share. Thank you so much for your time and I so hope that this reply finds you 2 years later. Traci Clemente PS I know it says anonymous thats because I didnt know how to do a URL lol :) Thank you again

    1. Traci, you can message me through my Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/RaisingAChildWithAuditoryProcessingDisorder?ref_type=bookmark

  5. Wow, Wow, Wow,,, I have never gotten so many ideas for our 14 yr old son who we are sure has APD. We have been homeschooling from the beginning and plan to continue. I do have a question. Do you feel it is important to have the testing done to prove either APD or Dyslexia and if so, who should I contact?

    1. In my opinion, you do not need the testing, but it can provide some insight that you might not have realized before. For example, the testing we did when our daughter was younger showed us the main issues with her auditory processing but when we had her retested a a teenager, we saw some of the more subtleties that we hadn't realized before. They didn't make a big difference, but it was good to know all the same. The most important reason to get official testing is if you need services provided by a school or university as they usually require the official diagnosis and it to be current. If you decide to get the testing for APD done, you need to go to an audiologist that specializes in APD; you should be able to search for one online in your area and then make sure you call and check before you set up the appointment.

  6. My son is at a Remedial school Livingstone. They dont accept and support his condition diagnosed APD by Paed. Instead they insisting on Ritalin