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.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Que Sera Sera ---- Can we help calm the anxiety over the future that comes with the teenage years?

Lately my sweet girl has been asking me what her life will be like when she grows up.  Will she be married; will she have children; will she be an occupational therapist or should she do something else; will college be hard; will she find a job; will she live near me; and on and on.

Usually I tell her that she will do what she wants to do and if she wants to get married, then she will, etc.  I tell her that we make our paths in life by our actions and our hearts and that she must follow her heart and do what seems right to her.  In the end though, my comforting words don't provide her much comfort; it's all just too abstract perhaps for her age (just turned 13).

So lately that wonderfully simple song sung by Doris Day, "Que Sera Sera" has been sneaking its way into my thoughts.  I wonder if these words would provide more comfort in their sheer statement of relax, don't worry, live and see what happens - a sort of wu wei* respect:

"Que Sera, Sera"

When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother
What will I be
Will I be pretty
Will I be rich
Here's what she said to me

Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be

When I grew up and fell in love
I asked my sweetheart
What lies ahead
Will we have rainbows
Day after day
Here's what my sweetheart said

Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be

Now I have Children of my own
They ask their mother
What will I be
Will I be handsome
Will I be rich
I tell them tenderly

Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be
Que Sera, Sera

YouTube link to hear song: Que Sera Sera by Doris Day

How do you relieve your child's anxieties over the future?  

*Wu Wei (press on the words wu wei here or above to go to the Wikipedia definition): Wu wei is a Taoist concept that when one lives in harmony with the Tao (nature, the natural way of things, truth, and any other concept of spiritual oneness), one responds effortlessly to any situations that arise and follows one's true path of being.  It is often interpreted as "non-action" but this is too misleading I believe when one comes from a western philosophical mindset.  Anyway, please forgive me if I have not done justice in my definition here.----- I loved my eastern philosophy classes back in my college days.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Having APD and Being Overwhelmed By Classes

So I told you all that I would keep you updated on Hailey's progress in taking academic type classes for the first time....

My sweet girl Hailey has auditory processing disorder, is homeschooled, almost 13, and decided to try taking some classes at a local homeschool center.  She signed up for 4 classes that meet one day a week.  At first, she was very excited about "going to school" and she loved seeing her friends and going to class with them and eating lunch together.  However, it didn't take long before the novelty wore off and she was simply overwhelmed.

Her creative writing class ended up being so bad she had to quit.  The teacher did not understand her needs and did a lot of auditory teaching (lecturing) without enough visual support for Hailey. None of the homework assignments were ever written down despite my speaking to the teacher, the principal, and even writing a letter to the principal which was then forwarded on to the other administrative staff.  Futhermore, the teacher started seeing Hailey as a troublemaker because I, her mother, was constantly asking for more than this teacher wanted to give.  The teacher had an attitude around Hailey and never said one nice word to her or about her work ever, nor did she meet any of our requests.  Hailey was in tears just thinking about having to go and so we decided to just quit that class.  

So Hailey continued to take tennis, art, and theater improv.  The theater improv was not ideal, but it was working; this teacher was willing to make accommodations and find ways for Hailey to be successful in the class.  For instance, she was able to recite a smaller memorized poem in class and to do it in sign language as well as speaking - which actually helped Hailey remember it better.

Lunch, which Hailey originally thought was exciting, quickly became "too noisy", "too many kids" and she felt she had to eat "too fast."  Yesterday she actually asked me to stay and eat lunch with her in our car so that she could get away from it all and relax.

The classes are 12 weeks long and we have 2 more to go at this point.  Hailey is really no longer interested in the classes and is simply finishing them up to have completed them.  She has found that it takes so much energy just to be in the classes and try to process everything, that she is not sure it is worth the effort.  She comes home exhausted and needs the whole next day just to unwind.

Unfortunately, she has also stopped putting so much effort into socializing with her friends at class and she just wants to avoid them.  This makes me sad because she really likes these kids, but she is just too exhausted to try anymore.  Yesterday she looked like she was practically cowering away from them as she held her head low and visibly shrunk her body as far away from them as she could; she never acts this way!

Despite it all, she still wants to take community college classes in a few years. She said she just wants to make sure she never has more than one class in a day.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Auditory Processing Disorder: The World is Not as Accommodating as We Moms Are

Since Hailey has been taking classes at the homeschool center once a week, I am getting to sit back and just watch her experiences and interactions in ways I haven't before.  I have always been right there beside her, helping her throughout it all.  Now, I see her sit in her class and listen to the teacher (I got to sit in on a class today).  I see her in the hallways.  I see the other children in the classrooms.  I see the other children in the hallways.

I am starting to feel emotions that I haven't felt for a while now.  I am realizing just how much we have organized our family and our homeschooling and even our socializing to accommodate her needs as a person with auditory processing disorder.  We don't even realize we are doing it anymore!  It has become so natural to us.

At "school" (the homeschool center), no one accommodates her needs (not that some of them don't try - they do).  The teacher talks and walks around the room, rambling in long sentences that are circular in theme and connected by only simple threads and tangents as she weaves her web of a story to showcase the point she wants to make.  There is nothing wrong in this way the teacher is talking; in fact it is a very common way people talk when they are just "speaking off the cuff" or rather just talking without a plan of what exactly they are wanting to say and how to get to it.  The other children just listen and seem to follow along to some extent.  Some of the kids jump in with responses to her story or sharing of their own similar experiences.  It is casual and free and a lovely open discussion.  However, for someone with auditory processing disorder, it is too hard to follow. The linearity of the story is lost as moments and details are remembered and added in.  The purpose for listening is lost as it is told at the end rather than the beginning.  The jumping in of others (which brings an interactive component for the other children) just makes it that much more confusing as new stories are presented in the middle of the unfinished original one.  I felt sorry for my sweetheart sitting there lost and bored, I imagined.  The other kids could appreciate the conversational style, but my child with auditory processing disorder found nothing but confusion in it.

In the hallways, the children stand and chat with one another.  Their voices mix and mingle like a choreographed dance of speakers seeming to talk over one another and yet all seem to still be able to follow and understand.  They laugh and smile and seem genuinely happy to be there with one another.  My sweetie with auditory processing disorder stands there lost, with vacant eyes and in silence. Someone will smile at her or touch her shoulder and she will momentarily smile and her eyes will light up, only to hide again in the din of the conversation.  When I ask her about it, she says she likes the kids, but she doesn't understand what they say.

Inside my momma bear wants to barge in to every situation and say "Talk slower.  Talk in phrases. Make sure she understands before you move on.  Don't talk over one another. Use visuals." Yet, I know this is not the right approach.  My sweet girl is almost 13 and she will run into this her entire life!  She has to decide how she wants to handle it, if she wants to handle it.

For classes, of course, we can ask for accommodations that will help her to learn what she wants to learn and do the assignments.  In social exchanges, she will have to speak up and ask others to slow down when she wants or just not understand when she doesn't feel the need to understand but simply to just be there. With her good friends, she does ask them to repeat themselves or speak slower or explain things if she doesn't understand.  In just the group-you-find-yourself-in situations, she says she doesn't really care.

So all this long ramble is to say that I, the mom, am feeling distressed by her situation.  She, the one with auditory processing disorder, is actually handling it all better than me.  She doesn't expect to understand everything and she's okay with that.

Meanwhile, I'm hiring a private sign language tutor to see if this will help her in any way.  She likes the sign language she has taught herself through books and videos, so we're going to try diving more into this as a possible option.  (Update:  I have been reading that "language disorders" (such as Mixed Expressive Receptive Language Disorder which Hailey was diagnosed with at age 6) often cross over into sign language as well as oral language.  Bummer!  We will still pursue the sign language, though, as it might prove helpful all the same.  I'll be sure to let you all know.)

Monday, October 14, 2013

APD Makes Classroom Learning Hard: Having Auditory Processing Disorder and Taking Classes after Homeschooling

As many of you know, Hailey (7th grade) wants to take community college classes as a high-schooler, which is in two years.  So we found a local homeschool center that offers classes to homeschoolers and she signed up for tennis, 3-D art, theater improv, and creative writing.  This way she will have some exposure to taking classes before taking college level classes. (And she really is loving just having the experience of going to school and taking classes and eating lunch with her friends.)

This experience is really showing her and us just how much her auditory processing disorder affects her in a classroom environment.  None of us really could have guessed how difficult some aspects of a classroom learning experience would be.

As Hailey has some great coping skills and really relies a lot on the visual information she is inputting, she is doing very well in the tennis and 3-D art classes.  She says that although she doesn't necessarily understand what the teachers are saying, she can see what they are demonstrating and so knows what to do.  She has always done well at both art and anything physical.

The problems for Hailey are in the creative writing class and the theater improv class.  The areas of difficulty so far are in understanding what is being taught orally, clearly knowing the directions told, and reproducing the spoken or written work under the pressure of time.

The creative writing class is taught by the teacher reading a poem and talking about the use of literary devices such as metaphor, simile, personification, etc.  She tells the students what a quatrain is and reads an example.  So everything is being told to them and at most, they have a sheet in front of them.  The problem is that the sheet is just of the poem being read and so it helps, but it doesn't teach Hailey what a metaphor is for example; she would have to understand what the teacher is saying to get it.  The homework is also told to the students at the end of class.

The theater improv class has the students working in groups and doing improvisational type skits; although not completely improv as they do get to do some planning and preparing before they do their skit.   This is very fun and Hailey is enjoying it, but again she is not processing everything and so tells me that she just lets the others take the lead and she has very few lines.  She says that she can understand the themes and emotions by the body language and so uses that as her guideline as well as in the groups, the other students do make sure she knows what is going on so that she can perform her part.

In creative writing, she has to write in class as well as at home. The writing at home is something she actually looks forward to doing and does well.  She has all the time she needs and she can get help as needed.  In class, she feels pressured to write in the limited time frame given and this worry makes it so that she cannot remember how to spell even simple words and she says she even has trouble just making it look neat on the paper. This was shocking to me as she has good handwriting and has always taken great strides to make her handwriting neat and legible.  She is also a good speller (which is not that common in people with APD it seems) and so I think her and I were both shocked that she would have these problems.

In theater improv class, the teacher has them practice things like accents and tongue twisters and speaking backwards and really fun things like that which makes a lot of sense for a theater class. However, Hailey's APD makes it even more difficult for her to process these and forget having her try to do them; she can say a tongue twister for example if she practices it a lot and even then she has to say it slowly, but on the spot and fast is simply impossible.

So we are taking advice from all our schooled friends with APD (those on the Facebook APD support groups) and asking for accommodations that may help Hailey in her classes.  My hope is that we can do all the experimenting at these homeschool center classes and then be prepared and ready for community college in a few years.

So far we are going to record the creative writing class so that Hailey can bring it home and we can go over it together.  I can then teach her whatever was taught in class.  She is also going to type her in-class writing and e-mail it to her teacher so that she feels less constrained by time, because typing is faster than handwriting and she doesn't have to worry about making it neat.

In theater improv class, the teacher is now aware of the APD issues and will hopefully make sure Hailey works in a group that helps her be her best as well as she won't keep asking her to do tongue twisters; maybe she can focus on more gestures and body language in acting skills.

I'll certainly keep you all updated on what we discover works and what doesn't.  I do feel very grateful that Hailey has her background of being homeschooled and knowing that she is very smart and capable of learning and accomplishing whatever she wants to do.  I fear that if she hadn't had this successful background to discover herself and feel assured of herself, these experiences of not understanding in class would be too hard on her.

My heart goes out to all the children with APD who go to school everyday to sit in a class where they do not understand what is being taught.  My hope is that more and more teachers are using a multi-sensory approach to teaching and not relying on auditory input only.  Our children with APD are smart and capable and just need to be taught in a way that works for them.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Curriculum in the Homeschool: What We Have Used for Our APD Daughter for Mathematics

So this post is a day later than I had planned, but I finally have time to sit down and write it.

Mathematics is one of those things that I have found people think about in very different ways.  It sometimes amazes me the way that people can solve a mathematics problem in a way that seems so bizarre to me, but it works.  The reason is because our brains don't all solve problems the same way.  Therefore, I find that mathematics must allow for each child to discover what way works best for his/her brain.

Also remember that  children with APD (auditory processing disorder) need to have visuals and/or kinesthetics to help due to the difficulties with auditory processing.

So keeping all this in mind, I have been very eclectic with mathematics.  All of my children think differently about it and solve problems in their own ways.  My sweet girl Hailey (who has APD)  is very visual and so conceptualizes as well as solves the problems really by picturing things in her mind. For this reason, we have done a lot of hands-on, real world learning with mathematics as well as used manipulatives and pictures.

The Early Years:
When Hailey was a little one, we played with math like we would play anything else.  We counted objects and we shared by dividing up our spoils.  We bought enough apples for each family member by counting.  We found out we are the second house on our block.  We subtracted how many cookies we ate from the total we had to find out how many we had left.  We would cook together and get 1 cup of milk or 1/2 cup of milk.  You get the point; we just incorporated mathematical thinking and language into everyday life and made it fun.

I also liked to read aloud mathematics stories like Measuring Penny and 12 Ways to Get to 11. There are a ton of great story books that introduce math concepts and really get kids interested in trying to "do math".  Hailey's twin brother absolutely adored books about money!

Introducing Numerals and Paper Problems:
At some point, we started writing the numbers down on paper and making written math problems. We used the objects we were adding and wrote them down so there was a one-to-one correspondence with the manipulative (what we were adding) with the numeral associated with it.

Sometimes I would write them as a problem like 2+3=5 and sometimes I would write them on a number line.  Othertimes we would draw them as pictures or stick figures.  This way, the kids would have seen a variety of ways to write it.

Having the Child Solve a Written Problem:
After having done the above for many times, then I would ask my sweetie to solve a problem by giving her the written problem.  She would have access to objects, which was her preferred method at first. Then later, I would not have the objects out and she would have to decide what way she could do it without the objects.  This generally led to using her fingers as objects.   Her fingers then didn't become an obstacle until she got to numbers higher than ten and she needed to implement other ideas.  As she would get stuck, I would show her options like the number line, counting up, counting down, drawing pictures, drawing stick figures, etc. I would only show one at a time to see if that made sense to her.  If it did, then great.  If not, then I'd try another one.  However, if I had to do more than two, then she was frustrated and it was time to stop and try again another day.

Introducing New Concepts:
As we were doing mathematics for everyday living all the time, new concepts were usually not completely new.  So when I wanted to add them to her written abilities - mathematics on paper - I would reintroduce it as "remember when we.......(ex. baked the cake and had to measure 1/2 a cup)". Then we would discuss what 1/2 meant or whatever the new concept was.

I would always be sure to have visuals and manipulatives as needed.  So for fractions, for example, we would have measuring cups and spoons; we would have something to cut into equal pieces; we used fraction blocks (a plastic manipulative you can buy); we drew pictures (half the people are wearing hats).

I always taught Hailey the concept and its practical use before how to solve any problems.  This is the way her brain best stores information: she needs the "why is this important and how does it all make sense" first.

Then she could start to solve problems both in real life and on paper.

Don't Make it Hard or Complicated:
Mathematics can be easy and it is best served in small chunks.  I never spent too much time working any mathematics problems or concepts. If it started to become frustrating and we couldn't fix the frustration quickly, then we stopped and did something else.  We could always go back to it another day.

My biggest concern was that Hailey would get frustrated with math and then decide she wasn't good at it and just shut down.  I did not want that to happen, so I made sure to make the steps small enough for her to always feel successful.  I really felt there was no rush to learn anything at any particular time and her perception of her skills was more important than any race to do things quickly.

The Workbooks We Used:
Mostly I made up my own mathematics curriculum and used the state mathematics as a guideline to make sure I covered everything she needed (but not at the time frame set by the state - at her pace).

I did use workbooks as ready made problems to solve as she got a little older.  We also did some Time 4 Learning, but she found she liked the workbooks better.  Here are some I liked:

School Zone Publishing Company Math Basics:  These are organized by grade level and you can see how the skills are repeated but with a little more added to each year.  I tended to use them without regard for the grade level.  So I might do a multiplying fractions unit and use the Grade 4 to introduce them and then do Grade 5 and Grade 6 the next few days.

Educators Publishing Service Attack Math:  These are books all about addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. They are the basic skills only, but worked well for repetitive practice.

Educators Publishing Service It's Elementary! 275 Math Word Problems: This is workbook filled with word problems.

Singapore Math Practice:  These are something that I just found this year and she has been doing well in them.  She is technically a 7th grader and she is currently working in the 7th grade level workbook.  I decided to mix up the flow of this workbook as it makes more sense to me to do the geometry sections all together and since we haven't done as much geometry before, I am saving them for last.

Hailey has not taken algebra yet, but she did do an app on her iPad that really taught her a lot about solving algebraic equations.  The app is called DragonBox and the basis is that whatever you do to one side of the equation, you have to do to the other side as well.  The point is to solve for x.

After completing the app, I gave Hailey some paper algebra equations and she could do the problems easily.  So I guess it worked.

In her Singapore Math workbook this year, there is a small algebra section but it is even simpler in that they give you a value for x.  However, the writing algebraic expressions from word problems was tricky.

So Hailey and my plan is for her to take algebra next year. (Remember she wants to take community college courses as a high schooler, so she is wanting to get prepared for that.) We probably will use the homeschool classes that she is enjoying this year as they have an algebra class.  However, if they go about it in a way that makes it seem complicated (as sometimes classes and people make math more complicated than it needs to be), then I'll take her out and do it with her at home.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Curriculum in the Homeschool: What We Have Used for Our APD Daughter for Language Arts

Curriculum is one of those hard questions for many homeschoolers.  Some choose not to use a curriculum, some choose to use a boxed set by one company for all the subjects, some choose different ones for each subjects, some pick and choose different resources as needed/desired, and some make up their own.

There are paper products like hardback books and workbooks and teacher's guides.  There are online products such as websites that have all the subjects or just one of the subjects.  There are hands-on materials such math manipulatives and art and science projects.  There are board games and videos and computer games.  There are real world resources like the grocery store, the animal shelter, and the local farm.  There are museums and re-enactment places and events.  So, the resources are there and homeschoolers are free to be as creative with them as we desire.

So when most people ask about curriculum, what they are wanting is usually the paper and pencil type workbooks or computer programs/websites for the skills such as reading, writing, and mathematics.

When people ask me for advice, I can tell them what I have used and why.  However, it might not be the best fit for their child.  So my first and foremost best advice is to get to know your child and what types of activities and presentation styles work best for him or her.  Some kids need to actually touch things like math manipulatives.  Some kids need a visual of the big picture while others want it step-by-step and don't confuse them with too much at once.  All kids with APD are going to need it to not be only auditory.

So here are some of the Language Arts materials/resources I have used with my sweet girl Hailey along the way:

Phonics and Early Readers:
We went to a reading specialist and Hailey was taught using the Lindamood Bell LiPS program* with a combined Orton/Gillingham approach.  There we were introduced to the Educators Publishing Service Primary Phonics readers.  They are interesting for readers (most are horribly boring and some don't even make sense) and they build on the skills very sequentially and with lots of repetition.  I actually used them for all three of my kids.

If you need direct instruction in how to teach phonics, I would look into a book that teaches you the parent how to teach phonics.  Also, there are websites that do a good job with teaching phonics such as Time 4 Learning; we did some Time 4 Learning and it presents phonics in a very easy to understand and fun way for younger kids.  There are also other great websites and programs out there for phonics, but I haven't personally used them.

There are also all sorts of phonemic awareness games you can play with your children.  Look for a book of suggestions geared toward the parent/teacher and you will soon realize how easy it is to incorporate these into everyday life.  An example would be going to the grocery store and looking for produce that start with /b/ sound or cutting out pictures from a magazine of /b/ sounds or rhyming words for the fun of it as a car game, etc.

Oh yes, one last thing I do not want to forget.  With having APD (auditory processing disorder), it really helped Hailey early on to use a lot of tactile, movement, and visuals for learning.  So she had a baking sheet with sand in it to draw letters in and she would tap the letters to sight words on her arms and write in big letters in the air and walk out words by each step being a new letter.  She would write letters and draw them into pictures as ways to remember them like an M can become a mountain. These multi-sensory additions really made the learning stick in her memory much better. I've seen some books online that teach multi-sensory approaches to phonics and reading, so those would probably have a lot of good suggestions.  When I have time in the future, I will try to read some and see if I can make a suggestion of one in particular I like.

(Rhyming was always an impossibility for Hailey with her APD and she still struggles with it to some extent even though she reads very well now.  So don't worry if they can't do some particular skill; they may not need to.)

Just Past Early Readers: 
I gave Hailey a combination of the bookstore early readers like Step Into Reading and DK Readers. She loved being able to pick out her own books and there were a variety of levels and subjects.  As a foresight, the DK Readers are a little harder than the Step Into Reading, so your child may be at a level 4 Step Into Reading and only a level 3 in DK Readers.  Don't worry about the level written on the books and what grade they are supposed to be for; just look for ones that your child can read without too much difficulty.

If comprehension is proving to be difficult, check out my post about comprehension strategies here: http://apdhailey.blogspot.com/2013/06/some-reading-comprehension-strategies-i.html

More Reading and Comprehension:
Then Hailey moved into some comprehension workbooks called Early Reading Comprehension in Varied Subject Matter by Jane Ervin; these have passages to read and then questions about the passage such as main idea, details, vocabulary, and writing about it.  She loved these workbooks and felt a real sense of accomplishment from doing them.

From there, she moved to the Reading Comprehension in Varied Subject Matter by Jane Ervin which are a higher level of the same thing but with more in-depth questions like going beyond the facts, true/false, writer's style and techniques, etc.

Novels have not been something Hailey has been able to accomplish on her own yet.  The length is just too long for her as she starts to feel overwhelmed and gets frustrated.  She has read entire series of graphic novels and we have read novels together - her and I - in which we take turns reading a chapter (or if she is feeling too overwhelmed to read, then I just read) and we stop and discuss them along the way.

I have also used a lot of movies as an introduction to great works of literature.  They don't build her reading skills, but they do build her literary base to some extent.  At least she knows the basic storylines and I think that will be helpful in her future.  Besides, she loves watching them.

Obviously a child's vocabulary is developing all the time and the influence comes in many, many ways: language used in the house, language on movies and television, language in the reading, language of friends, etc.  So I have always tried to just push the limits of Hailey's vocabulary by using a little more complicated vocabulary at home as fit the circumstances and she was able to understand.  With her APD (auditory processing disorder), I have to be careful to integrate the new vocabulary slowly and appropriately, or she would be overwhelmed.

Just recently, at Hailey's request, she started in a series called Wordly Wise 3000 by Educators Publishing Service to build her vocabulary and it also has reading comprehension passages as well as word study with the vocabulary and things like synonyms, antonyms, prefixes, suffixes, Latin roots, etc.  This work is to help prepare her for college and specifically the college placement exam, as she wants to attend community college as a high schooler.

Punctuation and Grammar:
With punctuation, I opted to teach it along with the reading and writing.  So when we came to a period in reading, I explained the use of it. Then when we came to an exclamation point or quotation marks, etc. we read the piece appropriately using those punctuation marks as our cues.  In her writing, when I edit it, I point out the need for or appropriate use of punctuation.

I've done grammar pretty much the same way for the basics: nouns, verbs, pronouns, adverbs, adjectives.  I have not taught her beyond those yet.  However, with her desire to attend college so soon, we have started to review the basics and learn the more advanced like prepositional phrases, etc.  I actually bought her Schoolhouse Rock  to watch and she is enjoying those.  I also have a workbook called Premium Education Series Language Arts which focuses on grammar and punctuation.

For writing, I've always let Hailey write what she wants to write.  She also writes at the end of those reading comprehension books she likes to do.

When she was little, she mostly drew pictures as her way of "writing".  She made stories out of a series of pictures.  Then sometimes she would add words or sentences here and there and I would help her as needed.

Now when she writes, she asks me for help in spelling as needed and then to look it over and edit it for her; so we do that together and I am careful to not be too picky. I just basically  look for spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. If she has none, then I might suggest ways to enhance it such as adding more descriptive words, etc. Just recently, she has started asking me to write things for her to correct; so I write things with incorrect spelling, punctuation, capitalization, etc and she finds my mistakes.  She loves doing this! It has become like a game for her.


With all that said, I do not make Hailey do work in her workbooks every day.  She is very self-motivated and wants to do them, but if she is having a tough day or we are having a lot to do that day, then I tell her that we should take a break.  She will get overwhelmed easily and she pushes herself way too hard sometimes. I am the one who keeps reminding her that there is no hurry and she needs to monitor her energy and stress levels, etc., because she will overdue it and wear herself out.  So you know your child with APD (auditory processing disorder) and you will have to figure out what he/she needs as far as motivation/limit setting.  Please do remember, though, that people with APD can get mentally fatigued very easily due to the auditory processing demands and so if your child needs a break, give it to her/him.  Keep the work down to a timeframe that is manageable for your child to not get stressed out and if you see her/him getting stressed out, then move to something comforting and destressing; there really is no hurry to learn any particular thing at any particular time.

As this is so long already, I will write what materials we have used for mathematics in another post. My plan is to accomplish the mathematics post tomorrow.

*  The Lindamood Bell LiPS program is a program that incorporates the look and feel of the lips, tongue, and mouth when producing sounds.  This was the only way Hailey was able to differentiate between sounds such as /b/ and /p/ that sounds alike to her.  Here is a link to the post I wrote about her difficulties in phonemic awareness and how we found the LiPS program to be the only thing that helped her: http://apdhailey.blogspot.com/2013/01/phonemic-awareness-for-my-child-with.html

Sunday, September 15, 2013

My APD Homeschooler's First Day of Classes Went Well

So Hailey (almost 13) had her first day of classes at the new homeschooling site we signed up for. She is taking tennis, theater, and 3-D art.  To her advantage, she already knows many of the students in her classes as they are friends we have known through homeschooling for years.

She wanted to have the experience of taking classes to see how she could handle it and for the social aspect.  I am curious to see if she needs any accommodations for the classes and if she notices any difficulties that we will need to be aware of for her future college career - which she insists will start in two years when she can take college classes as a high school student.

Concerned she might be overwhelmed with it being a new experience, I requested that she start with only the three classes and to make them "fun" classes.  Well, she is already talking me into letting her take a fourth class - creative writing.  So we are checking to see if there is still a way she can add on one more.  Hailey is definitely a reach-for-the-stars kind of person and sees no limits to doing what she wants in life. (This is definitely an asset in her life.)

So as you have guessed by now, she loved the classes!  She also adored the experience of eating a rushed lunch with all the other kids and even the idea of having a packed lunch!   Seriously, she was excited about the packed lunch; I guess if you aren't a kid who has spent so many years going to school, the novelty of it is pretty exciting.

I'll definitely keep everyone who follows this blog updated on her progress.  So look for the amazing adventures of my perseverant, optimistic APD teenager to come.  (I'll take time to go back and write past experiences and helpful advice as I can too - especially about the younger years when her future seemed more questionable.)

* UPDATE * :  Hailey woke up this morning and decided to do her homework for her theater class. She had to read two articles on public speaking and pick a poem to memorize that she will perform in seven weeks.  My sweet, go-get-em girl not only read the articles, but wanted to write them down in entirety; so I told her about this wonderful thing called taking notes and she paraphrased the main ideas and wrote them down instead.  Then she picked her poem and started to memorize the first stanza.  I couldn't be prouder.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sensory Needs and the Small Child: Scents and Tastes that Calmed our Sweet Girl

Today my mind is wandering back to the younger years when my children were just little toddlers, and I remembered how my sweet Hailey adored smelling the fresh ginger root when we went grocery shopping.  I would take the ginger and break it at the end so that it would release its sharp, refreshing fragrance.  She loved it!

So I got to thinking about other sensory things we would do for our little sweetie when she was a toddler.  In particular, she adored smells and tastes.  As she was a little one who carried around a security blanket she lovingly (and probably mistakenly due to her auditory processing disorder) called "Nonny" after her twin brother would speak about his bunny he carried around named "Bunny", we would put scents on the corners of her blanket for her.  Some of her favorites were lavender oil, maple syrup (I know sticky but it dries just fine and retains its smell for a while), and lemon juice or lemon oil.

We actually cut her blanket into 4 small squares and she would carry one of the squares around with her constantly.  Each corner would have a smell put on it and she could rotate it so that as she sucked her fingers (she liked her index finger and middle finger) she would at the same time put one of the corners of "Nonny" to her nose to smell.  This was a way that she could self-sooth and remain calm, especially when we were in environments like the grocery store or at a family gathering and the like. (And who knows, maybe she hated the smells the world had to offer up sometimes and she chose to smell what she liked???)
Another sensory trick we had was to bring along little hot cinnamon candies called Hot Tamales that she liked.(Our occupational therapist turned us on to these little hotties.) When life was getting overwhelming, a Hot Tamale candy to suck on was like a magic pill. At home, we usually used a drop of lemon juice on her tongue, but the candies were kept in my purse for occasions that we were not at home.

So if your child has sensory issues and gets frazzled at times, you might find that some scents or tastes might just do the trick.  I mean who would ever think that giving a two year old a really hot cinnamon candy to suck on would calm her down and make her feel relaxed!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Perseverance, My Daughter with APD, and Her Latest Goal

"Perseverance: steady persistance in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement." http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/perseverance

I love this definition of perseverance from FreeDictionary.com and it totally describes the go-getter, never-let-anything-get-in-the-way nature of my sweet Hailey.  I don't know if it is her auditory processing disorder which has made life so much more difficult for her or just her nature as she is, but Hailey has always persevered.

Recently Hailey (who is 12 1/2 years old at the moment) has decided that rather than being an artist for a living or opening a bakery or any of the other thoughts she has had about a future career, she will be an occupational therapist.  She wants to help children who have disabilities or special needs and she is particularly interested in working with sensory processing disorder.

If you knew Hailey, you would know that she doesn't just decide something, but she makes a commitment to her decisions!  She insisted that we immediately find out all we could about occupational therapists and exactly what she has to do to become one.  So we found out that one of our local community colleges has an associates program in occupational therapy and the college accepts students as young as 14 years old (although perhaps not in the associates program per se). Yup! You guessed it; Hailey wants to go when she is 14.

So she made the decision, found out the path is to go to the community college (and later to a university for her masters degree), and has decided her current plan of action.  She wants to take a few classes at a local homeschool co-op in order to get comfortable being in a class; put a large emphasis on improving her writing skills; learn higher level math (we're going to try pre-algebra); and learn sign language. These are all her goals that she came up with! She told me that she wants to be sure the community college will accept her at age 14 as someone capable of taking their classes.

She really does put a lot of pressure on herself and so I try to be supportive and yet help her to realize that she doesn't have to accomplish everything right away and she doesn't have to go to college at 14 years old. (My plan is for one class at a time at the community college, but she insists she will handle two at a time.) Yes, she is determined!  As she put it to me, "I want to DO something with my life and I'm tired of waiting!" (Hmm.... this makes me wonder about our society's lack of opportunities for teens to do more.)

Anyway, I have no idea if she will go to the community college at 14; we'll have to wait and see. What I do know is that she has perseverance and she will accomplish all she sets out to accomplish in life, or change her mind along the way and set her sights on new goals as she sees fit and then accomplish those.

So what do you think?  Has APD made you or your child more perseverant?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Going to a Concert with APD: Don't Forget the Earplugs!

"My ears felt like they were going numb because of how loud the noise was. Did you feel that too?"  Hailey had been bent over, squeezing her eyes tight and holding her ears with her hands. She looked like someone in pain and I knew I needed to get her out of there quickly.

For weeks Hailey had looked forward to going to a concert with her two closest and dearest friends. As we were going to see the Go-Gos and the B-52s, the girls all bought 1980s prom style clothes and fixed their hair up with 1980s styles (Hailey had a side pony tail.)  Us moms sat behind them in seats close to the stage, so we could all see very well.  However, the NOISE was incredibly loud!

Hailey desperately wanted to be with her friends and enjoy the show together, but she just couldn't handle the noise and mommy over here neglected to bring any earplugs.  So I escorted her from our close-to-the-stage seats to the farthest corner of the lawn, away from the noise as we could get and still be in the amphitheater.  This made the noise at a tolerable level and she felt immediately much better.  However, even there after a time she got to her threshold of bearability and started to melt; tears welled up in her eyes and she needed hugged and cold water and to leave the amphitheater. She missed being with her friends, but just couldn't handle the noise.

Hailey's thoughts:

"I couldn't understand the words.  All I heard was blah, blah, blah."

"I liked eating a turkey leg". (They had them there to purchase.)

"Even though I couldn't hear the words, I could still tell the difference between the Go-Gos and the B-52s by the way the beat sounded.  I liked the beat and the sound of the B-52s better."

"My friends didn't think it was too loud."

"If I ever go to a concert again, I will bring very good ear plugs or something even better than earplugs because even blocking my ears, it was too loud."

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

How I Freed Myself from Perfectionism (This is my philosophy with my own children - to be freely themselves without comparison.)

"I let go of perfectionism in college and it was the best thing I ever did for myself."

I wrote the above sentence today in response to an article I read, and I realized just how powerful this statement is. You see, I grew up being a straight A, top of the class, "gifted" student who was expected to always be the best, do the best, etc.  When the other kids were learning math in class, the teacher would give me a math textbook and say "Go to town and do whatever you want."  So, I would teach myself math for as long as I wanted and then when I was bored of that, she'd hand me a stack of my peers' work to grade.  When the other kids were reading one novel, I was often given another chosen by her (never chosen by me) to read on my own in order to keep me busy.  I didn't even have my after school time to myself as my father felt sports was an important aspect of every person and so I had to do gymnastics four times a week for four plus hours each day.  Not only that, but when I got to high school, I had to do volunteer work and I had to join clubs like the National Honors Society and French Club, because that was expected of "the brightest of the bright".

And so this went on until I went away to college and I didn't even questions where I would go; why I would go to what was considered the most elite, most difficult to get into, where the "brightest of the bright" in my state go to.  I applied early, got into early admissions, signed up for the classes that went along with the plan I had been going on established by someone else: each year take another English class, another math class, another history class, another science class, another foreign language class, and one elective.  I NEVER EVEN QUESTIONED WHAT I WANTED TO DO!

My first year of college, I was blessed in many ways.  I took a math class that was a weed-out course for the engineering program.  For this reason, it was intended to be very difficult so that only the most talented in math would continue on to the engineering program.  I was getting about a C average and that was something I had never done before.  I went to my professor's office to speak to him about it, and he told me not to worry, that I was doing extremely well for that course and that if I was getting a C then I would probably end up getting a B by the end, which was better than the majority of the students.  Hmmm.... this made no sense to me; why would it be done this way?

So I continued on for a few weeks more in this math class when I started speaking to my college peers and realized that not everyone was even taking a math class.  I realized that in college, people have a lot more flexibility to take classes that interest them and I was asked what I was interested in. Seriously, nobody had ever asked that before of me!  I was always expected to take the hardest classes in every subject and to get straight As; what was this what I am interested in thing?  I had no idea that was the purpose of education.  Who forgot to tell me that!

So I dropped the math class and the next semester I took an introduction to poetry writing class.  My instructor was a generous left-over beatnik from days gone by and he encouraged me to write from my heart and from my passion.  He told me some of the best kept secrets I needed to hear:  if you want to do something great, you have to allow yourself to make mistakes; if you want to learn something new, you have to allow yourself to be a beginner; life is meant to be lived with passion and happiness - do what you want and don't worry about where you compare to others, because it is YOUR LIFE.

So I continued to take poetry writing classes with this wonderful old beatnik and I learned about myself.  I learned what I liked, what I didn't like, who I wanted to be, to try new things if they interested me without care of whether or not I would be "the best".  Yes, my parents wondered what the heck I would ever do with all these poetry classes and wondered why I wasn't pursuing something that would "meet my potential" such as being a lawyer or doctor or corporate executive. I just learned to smile and say it was my life and I would do what spoke to my heart and my soul.

So that is how I learned to let go of the very limiting world of perfectionism.  I learned to be happy just to be happy, not related to being "the best" at anything.  I learned to be myself. And one of the most fantastic after effects is that I can not only be happy being me, but I can also be happy for others being them.   I don't need to be "the best" which meant comparing myself to others or comparing myself to some standard set by someone else. It truly is a wonderful world when you are free to be yourself.

And that is why I encourage my children to be themselves; to not compare themselves to others because we are all wonderfully our own unique selves with our own passions, interests, talents, and areas that we just don't seem to be very good at; and to honor everyone else for being themselves without jealousy or the need to compete.  Life is not a competition to excel at; Life is YOUR LIFE. Find what brings you enjoyment and be yourself for all that you wonderfully are.

Thank you for letting me ramble here with a little about myself in order to showcase a belief I have in raising my children.  I hope it brings some comfort and hope to others.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Our iPad, iPhone, iPod, Android (Educational) App Reviews - What Hailey Really Likes!

Hailey has an iPhone and hopes to have an iPad by her birthday in December.She is loving many of the apps and has actually learned quite a lot from many of them.  So we decided to write some reviews here on our blog and we can update this post as she finds more apps that she really likes. This is supposed to be about "educational" apps, but as we were writing it, we found it hard to distinguish what is truly educational and what is not; we find everything can have some "educational" aspect to it.

Stack the States

Hailey:  "You learn where the capital cities are, what the states looks like, where they are, and how to read their names (mom helps with that).  Also, the states are like little people with eyes on them that are cute; you can make them move their eyes around."

Mom:  Hailey has played this game for a few days now and she is really getting to where she remembers the states by their shape, where they are on the map, the capital cities and even some of the landmarks.  I'm kind of shocked at how quickly she is memorizing this information.  I catch her playing it all the time.

Dragon Box

Hailey:  "Dragon Box is a math game with easy questions to learn the first levels of algebra.  I liked knowing math that was a little higher than my grade was.  My mom wrote down some math on paper without the little people boxes like in the game and I could do the easy algebra on it."

Mom:  Hailey really did learn how to do basic algebraic equations via this program.  She was playing it and asked me to play.  It took me a few minutes to figure out what was going on as I really didn't understand the object of the game.  She showed me and I realized that it is algebra and how simple this game made it all.  So I started writing down some algebraic equations on paper for her to do. She could do them easily.

Magic Piano

Hailey:  "It helps with hand skills and probably is good for people with dysgraphia (her brother has dysgraphia).  I like making the music.  I don't know if it is a learning game, but it is fun."

Mom:  This is another favorite of her's.  It makes me think of a music box with the little raised bumps that mark out the tune.  You have to hit the little colored circles at the right time to play the music.  I agree with Hailey that it should help with fine motor skills to some extent and perhaps helps with some visual processing and maybe even some auditory timing skills as it sounds "off" when you don't play it right.

What's That Tune?

Hailey:  "This is kind of a memory game but it is only for songs.  I like it because it helps you with memory."

Mom:  Hailey and her brothers are way better than me at this game as the songs are all more modern than what I typically listen to.  You hear a snippet of a song and have to pick what the name of the song is from a list of possible titles.  I imagine this does help with auditory memory.

Draw Something

Hailey: "You draw with friends and you socialize with your friends.  I learn some spelling and get to draw.  I think when I get my iPad it will be better because I can draw better on a bigger space than the iPhone.  It's fun to see how my friends draw things."

Mom:  I like how she enjoys playing this with her friends and how she has to practice spelling words and learning new words sometimes.


Hailey: "You type in a word or sentence, you pick a language, and it tells you what it is in that language.  I use mostly French. People can use this if they go to another country and need help communicating."

Mom:  I was wondering how she kept coming up to me saying phrases in French and then she showed me her app.  She doesn't get the pronunciation right usually, but I can then help her with that as I know some French from taking it in highschool and college.  This encouraged us to check out a book on learning French from the library and we've been going through it.

The Simpsons Tapped Out

Hailey: "You design the city and you can't get rid of things so you have to plan it well.  The people will be mad if you don't do things right.  You're like the mayor."

Mom:  I know she really likes this game and I imagine it helps with planning and maybe some geometry aspects as you have to place buildings in locations to be easy for the people to get to and so you don't use up all your space haphazardly.  She also really loves The Simpsons and has watched every episode and read every comic book about them.

* Hailey doesn't want to sound snotty by having and iPhone and wanting an iPad, so she said maybe we should say something about her wanting an iPad because it is bigger and she wants to be able to read books on it.

If you have any suggestions for apps your child likes, please let us know.  We always like to hear of new ones we might like.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Some Reading Comprehension Strategies I Have Found Useful

Reading comprehension can be a problem for many children and adults, not just those with specific learning disabilities.  The process of reading written words and making meaning out of them is not something that just comes easily for everybody.  However, there are things that you as a parent or teacher can do to help your child, your student, or even yourself be a better comprehending reader.

The study of reading comprehension is complex and involves many areas of expertise.  There are beginning strategies and advanced strategies depending on the type of reading one is doing.  So for this post, which I’d like to keep simple, I’m just going to share some basic ideas and use the terms “your child” which you can substitute as your student or yourself as fits.

  • Model reading comprehension to your child:  Regardless of what age your child is, read aloud something together.  As you read, stop to show your child your cognitive processes while reading. 

Example 1:
You read:  “Johnny ran down to the beach to retrieve the towel he left there.  On his way, he stumbled over a large rock and fell in the sand.  His wet body felt scratchy covered with the harsh sand.”

You stop and say aloud: “Oh poor Johnny.  That must have hurt.  Do you remember when we went to the beach and you fell in the sand?”  Allow for a small discussion if necessary, but not too long that you lose focus on the story.  The purpose of this dialogue is to show your child how you have pictured yourself in that situation and empathized with Johnny.  You asked the child to recall an instance from his/her past to help your child empathize with the character.  This is all you want and then direct the child back to reading the story by saying something like, “I wonder what Johnny is going to do now” and start reading again.

Example 2:
You read: “The thirty children were divided into three equal teams and told to work together on their scavenger hunt.  Maya found it difficult to concentrate on what her team speaker was saying to find as the other children were being too noisy.  She wished she could have been on a smaller team.”

You stop and say aloud: “Hmm, if there were thirty children divided into three teams, that meant Maya’s team had ten children on it. Wow!  That is a lot of children on one team.  What do you think?  Would you like to be on a scavenger hunt team with nine other children?” Then you can briefly discuss what some of the problems of being on such a large team might be.  This way you are showing how you are processing what you read, asking questions to yourself about what it means and what it would feel like, and predicting what might happen next by thinking about Maya’s dilemma. Again, keep it brief and move back to the reading as soon as possible so as not to lose focus on the reading itself.  You could segue back by saying something like, “Let’s see if Maya has some of those problems with her big team.”

(As you can see, it helps if you have read the book ahead of time too so you can better help your child focus on the issues of that particular book, but it is okay if you don’t and you make mistakes such as focusing on something – like maybe Maya’s big team problem – and then finding out that really wasn’t that important in the story.  This just shows your child how these things happen and it is okay; you model how you refocus as the story shifts.)

Example 3:
Make mistakes and show your child how you correct them.  Read something too fast and then stop saying something like, “Wait a minute.  I just read that so fast that I don’t know what I read.  Let me slow down and read that again.” 

Read something and then stop and say, “I’m confused.  I thought Margaret and Dinah didn’t like each other but here they are being friends.  What just happened?” If your child knows the answer, let him/her tell you.  If not, suggest that you go back and reread the last paragraph or sentence or as much as you think you need to find the answer.  Show your child how you do this.

Model a distraction and how to deal with it.  While reading if some noise is made nearby or the dog comes and jumps in your lap, or anything that might be a distraction happens, keep reading and then stop and say, “You know, I was reading the words but I really wasn’t paying attention.  When Fido came and jumped up in my lap, my brain started to think about Fido and even though I was reading, I didn’t really pay attention to what I was reading.  Does that ever happen to you?” Then you show how you go back and reread what you didn’t pay attention to.

  • Show your child how to use visualizing techniques while reading.  This can be picturing in your head the scene or event you are reading.  It can be drawing the scene or event. It can be acting out the scene or event.

Example 1:
You read a story about a little brown dog who got lost and then saw his family across the street but had to get across the street safely to get to them.   You and your child draw a picture of the street with the little brown dog on one side and his family on the other side.

Example 2:
You read the story of the three little pigs and the big bad wolf who blows their houses down.  You and your child take turns pretending to be the pig or the wolf and act out the drama.

Example 3:
You are reading a history textbook about a civil war battle.  You tell your child to stop and imagine what that might have been like.  You tell your child to close his/her eyes and you describe the scene: “Imagine you are in a field with your friends beside you.  There is so much smoke in the air from the guns firing that it is hard to see in front of you.  You hear someone crying, but you don’t know who it is.  What would that be like?  Tell me what you see? What you feel?  What you hear?”  Try to get your child to imagine and describe a scene to you.

Example 4:
If you are reading a story that has a movie to go with it, watch the movie first.  Most teachers do it the opposite way and watch the movie only after reading the story (which has its own value as the student can use more of his/her own imagination in picturing the events if she/he hasn’t watched the movie first) but for a child with comprehension issues, watching the story first can help give a frame of reference to the reading and make it more comprehensible.  Then while reading, have your child recall back to the movie what they remember seeing during that event.

  • Show your child how to summarize and put into his/her own words what has been read. This can be either oral or written, depending on the needs or style of your child.  If memory recall is an issue, writing or recording the summary is important to have it to return to later when the recall is needed.

Your child is reading a chapter book.  Your child can comprehend a paragraph pretty well, but has trouble synthesizing the paragraphs in a chapter to form a complete summary or cannot recall the information gleaned from the earlier paragraphs by the time she/he has reached the end of the chapter.

After each paragraph read in the chapter, have your child say, dictate, or write one sentence summarizing what the paragraph is about:  Was a new character introduced? Did something happen to a character? Did it describe the scene? Was a solution to a problem found?  Was a new problem introduced? Etc. 

Then after the child has gotten to the end of the chapter, the child can look back over the sentences he/she has created for each of the paragraphs to remember what was important about each paragraph.  This should give a general outline of the important events of that chapter and the child can use that to write a short paragraph to summarize that entire chapter.

After each chapter read, the child can look back at the previous summaries of each chapter she/he has created before reading the next chapter to remember what has happened so far, recall important events and facts, make predictions of what might happen in the upcoming chapter, etc.

(If your child cannot summarize a paragraph, then go back to the sentence level.  Read one sentence and have the child put into his/her own words what that sentence was about.  I wouldn’t have the child write for each sentence as that will get frustrating, so just paraphrase it orally and write a sentence at the end of the paragraph.)

(If your child finds every paragraph to be too much writing and doesn’t need that for recall, just paraphrase and write at the end of each chapter.  If your child needs that for memory recall but can’t handle the writing, then let him/her dictate to you or record it.)

So as I look back over what I wrote here and how really long this post has become, I at the same time realize that this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of strategies for reading comprehension.  There are so many more and some that are very good and specific to different genres of writing such as the structure of poems, the form of an argumentative article, the plot of a fictional story.  Still, they are a start and hopefully offer some help to others struggling with reading comprehension.

Also, one very important thing I want to add is that these strategies can be used for comprehending movies too.  This can be especially helpful for a child who really has anxiety about reading, as the comprehension of the movie can be a start to using those same strategies with reading too.

Oh and the big, number one, best thing to do ever is: Make it fun to read! Enjoy reading with your child and spread that enthusiasm to your child. (And from my own personal experience with my kids, I've found that my oldest son prefers non-fiction or  creepy stories and my youngest son prefers fiction - especially involving animals.  My daughter likes graphic novels best, and then anything with romance and happy endings.  So find what your child enjoys to read.)

If you are really interested in learning more about reading comprehension, here are some books you might be interested in:

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Do Children with APD Have More Fears than Their Peers?

My spouse and I were talking the other day about how our sweet girl with auditory processing disorder has always needed more reassurance than our two non-APD boys.  She asks five, six, seven times every night if we've locked all the doors.  She tells us all to have safe dreams before sleeping and insists we tell her the same thing and it can't be "good dreams", it has to be "SAFE dreams".

It's not just the night time sleeping that brings concerns for her.  Whenever I (being mom) leave the house without her, she looks at me deeply in the eyes and tells me to drive very, very safely and be very, very careful to not get hurt and come home to her safely.  Then she gives me at least three hugs and longingly waves me off.  She is worried that something will happen to me and she will never see me again.  I think this is because she still relies very much on me for support; I'm the one person in her world that truly understands her.

My spouse gets concerned that maybe this is not the APD, but I really feel that it is.  I imagine that if I lived in a world where I understood sometimes as little as half of what I heard each day, I'd feel pretty lost and confused and scared.  I would rely that much more on those I trust would support me and care for me and always be on my side.  It just makes sense to me.

As our sweet girl gets older, she does make strides in her comfort level with living in this world.  She used to never be able to be away from me at all without acting fearful; now she does let me leave for several hours away without her and she functions just fine, enjoying her life.  She used to need constant sensory support such as something to chew on and her little blanket "Nonny" to hold for support, but she stopped carrying Nonny and she stopped needing to have something in her mouth. She used to need me to do things like go into the locker room with her at ice skating and now she asks me to stay out so she can be on her own like her peers.  When she was little, she did sleep in our room with us until she was seven years old; we let her decide when she wanted to sleep in her own room. (We did the same for our boys of course.) Now she always sleeps in her own room and even feels comfortable staying the night at her friends' homes.  So as time goes on and she gets older, she does feel more "safe" and doesn't need as much support as she once did.  Maybe she hasn't been on the same path as her peers and maybe her time frame  has been different, but it is her path, and in her time, and therefore it is what works best for her.

I am a firm believer that children grow in the times and ways that work best for them and if she has more fears, then I will help her through them by providing the support she needs now, showing her how to support herself but not taking that support away from her until she has asked for me to do so; she knows herself even better than I know her and I respect that.  I want her to know without a doubt that I am there for her whenever she needs me, without judgement and without fear that I will suddenly just stop when she isn't ready for me to do so.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Homeschooling a Child with Special Needs/Learning Disabilities Avoids A Lot of the Anxiety

I want to start by saying that I know many people cannot homeschool for various reasons (in some countries it is actually illegal) and others choose not to homeschool because they feel that school is best for their child.  I feel very fortunate that homeschooling was an option for us.

Here are some of the benefits of homeschooling my child with auditory processing disorder:

  • She is not forced to sit for 7+ hours each day at school trying to process auditory input.
  • She is not feeling judged or compared constantly by teachers giving grades or her peers making comments.  
  • She is not having to try to socialize with groups of her peers who do not understand her. (Yes she does run into social problems because of her APD, but it is not on a daily basis.)  
  • She has time to pursue her interests like art and baking or even watch a movie 3 times or more until she finally feels she has processed all of it and gained any wisdom from it she could. 
  • She learns at her own pace and her own style. (She is visual and auditory input must be kept limited.)
  • She reads what interests her and takes as much time as she needs to read it. (Just the other day, she read some poems by Langston Hughes and wrote a poem as a response to her readings, all of her own choosing.)
  • She writes because she enjoys it and takes as much time as she needs to write.
  • She does math problems because she actually likes solving them.  Yes, she likes math because she takes her time and does what interests her at that moment. (She is currently above "grade level" in math.)
  • She has me, her mom, available to her for help and guidance and support as needed.  
  • We can hand-pick friendships to pursue that are more conducive to success as well as I can be here to help her process what is happening as I too know her friends as well as their parents. (Hopefully these skills will transfer to her abilities to stop and question her reactions, to give people the benefit of the doubt, and to stand up for herself when it is needed.)
  • She can take breaks and just relax, be alone, go jump on the trampoline, eat something, etc. as she feels the need for them. (This I believe helps her learn to be aware of herself and her needs and how to deal with them.)
  • She can start taking community college courses at 15 years old (which she wants to do) and take them one at a time to start, then build from there.  Colleges seem to be more accommodating to special needs and learning disabilities than the public school system, so that is a big plus.
So I imagine this list can go on and on, but the real point is that she does not suffer from a lot of the anxiety and depression that I see so many others on our Facebook support groups going through. Sure, she does have anxiety from time to time, but it isn't a constant.  She also went through a period of depression when she was bullied by some homeschoolers at a co-op we belonged to and promptly quit. It took us a few years to rebuild her self-esteem after that bullying episode, but now she is happy with herself again and I believe/hope she is now stronger and more able to fend off any such attacks in the future should they occur.

So although homeschooling isn't an option for everyone, it is certainly worth considering if you have a child with special needs/learning disabilities.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

"Same Journey Different Paths" --- I Co-Wrote a Book about Auditory Processing Disorder

So I suppose it is about time to mention on my blog, and not just the blog's Facebook page, that a book I wrote with 14 other authors about auditory processing disorder is about to be published:

Authors from around the world have come together to share their lives or that of their children living with Auditory Processing Disorder.
"Once we were all mothers and children from around the world dealing with auditory processing disorder on our own; we felt all alone on our journeys, not knowing anyone else with this disability. There wasn’t a lot of information available to us about how to deal with this disorder and we were looking for advice, help, and just someone who understood what we were going through.

Then one day, in 
our own times and ways, we found each other via the internet and more specifically Facebook. We used this well-known social networking site to establish and/or join support groups for people with auditory processing disorder. Through these groups, we started talking to one another, sharing advice, telling our stories, and developing a relationship with each other. These support groups became our lifeline where we knew we could turn to others who would be there for us.

Through the internet, we who live far away from one another and have never even met each other in person as of the printing of this book, have grown to care for one another and each of our families. We laugh, we cry, we share our successes and help find answers to help each other. We came together to write this book in the hope it will help others and no one will have to feel alone again on this journey."

Same Journey Different Paths official website: www.apdbook.com

I have loved the entire process of working on this book from writing it and editing it to managing the process with my co-managers Nancy Pittman Outten and Bonnie Landau Weed.

It will be available for purchase in June from Stoelting Company (I'll post a link to them as soon as it is available) as well as on Amazon, and will be available both in paperback and as an e-book.

PS:  As a bonus, one of Hailey's drawings will be in the book!  It's just a sketch she did, but it is so wonderfully full of emotion.