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, November 27, 2012

Processing Differences and Learning Disabilities Can Run In Families

When you have one child with a processing disorder or learning disability, you might see similar things in another of your children.  For example, our daughter was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder at two years old.  We learned how to give her a sensory diet and to predict her needs based on her sensory difficulties.  So when her twin brother had issues with clothing not feeling right or food not having the right texture, we just accommodated as we would with her.  We knew it was sensory related, but we did not feel the need to rush out and get him diagnosed with anything; his issues seemed so incredibly minor compared to hers and we knew what to do to help.

Growing up, we have also noticed that our son is not very coordinated.  He is the child who somehow manages to run into walls, trip going upstairs, has had stitches three times due to running or falling into something, and needs a lot of physical movement like swinging, pacing, jumping, etc.  We weren’t concerned by these things and just gave him access to lots and lots of physical opportunities.  We even put him in various gym classes, swimming, and martial arts. 

He is also the child with fine motor issues.  He hated coloring and drawing and rarely did it.   He had the hardest time learning to hold a pencil and write.  So we played games and did activities to boost his fine motor skills.  However, despite what we did, he never has gotten very good at fine motor skills.  He holds his pencil correctly, he forms his letters correctly, but he finds it so extremely difficult and tiresome and frustrating no matter how much he practices.

Because we homeschool, our son’s motor skills difficulties have not interfered with his learning nor has he been teased by his peers.  We have simply accommodated his needs; he dictates stories to me or he uses a keyboard to write anything more than a couple sentences.  When he draws, he draws stick figures to get his idea across and if he wants them more elaborate, his twin sister, who absolutely loves to draw and does extremely well, offers to draw them for him from his stick drawings.  He has also used some computer programs to do some basic drawings that he finds satisfying. Shoelaces still give him some frustration, but he can tie them – it just takes him longer.

As for gross motor skills, he still does all the physical activities that he wants.  It took him a rather longish time to learn to ride a bike, but he did.  He has walked all over the railings on the back deck and fallen a few times with no major damage, but he has enjoyed it and improved his balance to some extent (the railings are not far off the ground).  He jumps on the trampoline, shoots arrows at targets fairly well, plays laser tag well (his hand/eye coordination does not seem to be affected), swims well, and loves to do things like pull-ups, sit-ups, and the like.  

When I look up his issues online, I realize that he might have Dyspraxia and/or Dysgraphia; in fact, we have realized that for years and have simply done the things he would have done at occupational therapy and made accommodations for him as needed.  Therefore, we decided that we do not need to spend the money to get an official diagnosis of anything at this point in time.  When he goes to college, if he needs some sort of special accommodations, we will have to get him tested and diagnosed at that time.  He is aware that he most likely has Dysgraphia and that is why he has so much difficulty with writing, drawing, tying his shoes, and playing console games like Xbox (it requires quite a bit of fine motor skills); we have spoken to him about this because he felt so horrible about himself for his difficulties and we needed to help him learn to deal with this.

We have learned that these processing difficulties and learning disabilities like Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyspraxia, Auditory Processing Disorder, Visual Processing Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, and others probably have some sort of genetic link; they often run in families to some extent.  When I look back over my own biological family, I know of Dyslexia for sure, speech issues for sure, and others of the older generations who were never officially diagnosed with anything, but probably had a learning disability or processing disorder of some sort.  It is also suggested that premature birth may have some contribution to these issues and the twins were born prematurely. 

Whatever the reason our twins have some processing difficulty/difference, they are amazing kids!  They are incredibly intelligent, wonderfully kind, introspective, creative people.  They have perseverance, courage, and a unique perspective, not to mention our son has a great memory which might not be that great if it were easier for him to just write things down.  These traits, perhaps, are also enhanced by their processing differences.  I like to think so.

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