YOU HAVE TIME:
No matter what style of homeschooling you choose, the best tip I have to offer is to remember that you have time! Do not compare your child’s current skills to where he or she “should” be according to the standards of traditional schooling, because you are not doing traditional schooling. (The only exception to this is if you are planning on putting your child into traditional school at some point.) If you plan on continuing to homeschool, you have as long as it takes for your child to learn what he or she needs to learn to function as an adult, go to college, get a job, or anything else that is to come in the future.
To ease your parent mind on making sure your child eventually learns everything you think he or she needs to know (or to meet the requirements of your government), you can do research on curriculum by using the internet, buying a curriculum planner, getting information from your local school district, or if you work with an umbrella school by asking them. This curriculum can be used as your internal guide of what overall is to be learned, but I would recommend not worrying about the timelines they have established; your child might learn some things slower and some things faster and all of that works just fine in homeschooling. Also, use their suggestions of activities or methods as you desire, but remember that there are multiple ways to accomplish the same goals and multi-sensory is the best approach for your child with Auditory Processing Disorder.
DEALING WITH SHORT TERM MEMORY PROBLEMS AND AUDITORY FATIGUE REQUIRES A MULTI-SENSORY APPROACH, SHORTER TIME SPENT ON EACH INDIVIDUAL “LESSON”, REPETITION, AND MORE DOWNTIME:
Children with Auditory Processing Disorder often have problems with short term memory, also called working memory. Due to this, they often need repetition to learn things. Just because they understood how to add on Monday, does not mean they will understand it on Wednesday. However, once that skill/information is transferred to long term memory, the child will have it permanently. The best way to deal with this is to teach in smaller increments, but with repetition.
Another great way to help deal with short term memory issues is to use a multi-sensory approach. The more senses that are involved in learning a task, the more likely the information will be retained. So do not just sit at a desk and use a pencil and paper to add. Plan activities that involve visuals, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, taste, touch, music, and basically anything and everything you can think of.
Children with Auditory Processing Disorder often get fatigued easily from having to concentrate on auditory input and output. Therefore, your child will not do well with long lectures, boring textbooks that drone on in a language based imparting of information, or being forced to memorize passages. These are strong auditory skill based methods that are not for children with weak auditory skills. Find alternatives to learning things such as hands on methods (re-enactment places, hands on science museums, making things, planting a garden, taking care of bugs, etc), watching movies or documentaries with lots of visuals, and acting out information (like pretending to be a settler on a prairie rather than just reading about one). When you do read things for information, take it in smaller chunks, and stop along the way to make sure the information is being understood. Most importantly, do not overwhelm your child with too much new information at once; your child with Auditory Processing Disorder processes information differently and needs to digest things slowly in manageable chunks.
As children with APD get fatigued from auditory input and have problems with short term memory, another strategy we have used that works very well is to do a little learning of new information in as multi-sensory a way as possible, and then take a break. During that break, just relax and have fun doing something that does not require concentration or auditory input, does not impart a skill or knowledge that “must be learned”, and is something your child feels safe, comfortable, and confident doing. Your child needs that downtime so much more than you can imagine.
FOR VISUAL LEARNERS, FIRST TEACH THE CONCEPT/WHOLE PICTURE, THEN ADD THE DETAILS:
As most children with Auditory Processing Disorder are visual/spatial learners, they do well learning larger concepts and overall knowledge that they can then apply the details to. For this reason, unit studies work well because they can continue on one topic at a time, gathering a broader view of the topic while there is no competing new, unrelated information having to be processed at the same time.
Here is a link to a homeschooling blog that describes how unit studies can work: What is a Unit Study?
For skill such as reading, writing, and mathematics, you can teach the concepts of the skill (why we do it) before you teach how to do it. A child has no reason to learn how to add if he or she does not understand the purpose for it. There will be no place to put that information without a place holder for it. The place holder in the brain is the “why”. Children live in life just like adults and they can grasp the concept of adding when they say they want one more cookie. They have this experience of wanting another cookie that is already in their long term memory, so it acts as a foundation for adding the new information called addition. Using real life skills and experiences works the best for teaching children the concepts of reading, writing, and mathematics.
CO-EXISTING CONDITIONS AND WHY YOU NEED TO BE FLEXIBLE:
Many children with Auditory Processing Disorder have other co-existing conditions such as Visual Processing Disorder, Dyslexia, Sensory Processing Disorder, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Dyspraxia, Attention Deficit Disorder, and many other possibilities. Therefore, you might have to address these issues in relation to teaching your child as well. The best advice I have is to become familiar with your child’s strengths and areas of weakness; know the details to the conditions your child has (and remember that even within a label, every child is not exactly the same), and be flexible. If something doesn’t work, try to figure out why and change it. Be willing to try new things and see what works well for your child. Along those lines, remember that each child’s personality and personal interests are also a big part of their learning.
THE ENVIRONMENT FOR LEARNING IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR THE CHILD WITH AUDITORY PROCESSING DISORDER:
One of the primary symptoms of Auditory Processing Disorders is the inability to filter out background noises. Therefore, it only makes sense that a child with APD would do best concentrating in a quiet environment. This is especially important when focusing on skills such as reading. When my daughter with APD reads or works independently on something like a math worksheet, she wears noise reducing headphones to block out noise. When her and I are working together to learn something, we try to keep the background noise to a minimum as much as possible (when we are at a location such as an aquarium, we try to stay away from the crowds).
If my daughter with APD is starting to get stressed, she chews gum and/or we light a scented candle. These help to relax her. (Other kids might need to get up and move around or use a wiggle seat.)
My daughter tends to get annoyed with visual distractions as well; she also has mild Visual Processing Disorder where she actually tends to focus better on things in her peripheral vision rather than her central vision. Therefore, we also try to keep her visual environment calm – not too much movement going on around her. Just like APD, her VPD seems to bother her most under stressful situations like working on something that is very difficult for her.
DO NOT BE AFRAID TO CONTACT OTHERS OR USE EXPERTS AS NEEDED:
When my daughter was learning to read, I thought for sure I could teach her. I am a credentialed teacher who taught first grade for years. I taught many, many children how to read. I studied all the methods and thought I knew all I needed to know about teaching her to read. Despite all my education and experience, I was not successful. She needed something that I simply did not know.
It turns out that along with her APD, she also has Dyslexia. Her particular combination of APD and Dyslexia made it impossible for her to distinguish the different sounds in phonemes. She cannot hear the difference between sounds like /sh/ and /ch/ or /wh/ and /h/ and so many more. She needed to learn a very different way of identifying those sounds. This way for her was a program called the Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing Program (LiPS). We hired a reading specialist who knew this program and used it, along with a strong Orton Gillingham approach, to teach our daughter how to read. I sat in on all the lessons and learned how to work with her at home.
This was also the time we found out she also had a Visual Processing Disorder and we utilized a specialist to do some vision therapy with her as well.
Your child needs to feel successful. Above all else, make sure you find ways for your child to feel success. Like Rick Lavoie, educator, author, motivational speaker, says in his presentation When the Chips are Down, if your child is great at screwing things in, make sure you loosen all the screws in your house so he can do something he feels successful at.
I hope some of this information is helpful to you in some way. If you have more specific questions, I will do my best to answer them. I am not an authority on teaching children with Auditory Processing Disorder, but I am a mother who has been doing just that for many years now.
Here are a few links to other posts I have written specifically about reading and mathematics and one to our overview of homeschooling in general.
Why Auditory Processing Disorder Makes Reading Difficult (A guest post written by Bonnie Landau)