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.

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.)

5 comments:

  1. I want to you know how often I've had these exact feelings as a mother! I know exactly what you mean. Thanks for writing this post and you are not alone!

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  2. I just happened to find this blog while searching for information to help me with my 8 year old son who has apd as well as ADHD. This blog has been so informative and such a blessing. Understanding apd brought a whole new perspective and compassion into my life where as before I was often frustrated and didn't know why my son was having such a hard time with so many things. He struggles with learning to read, listening to stories and making friends. Last year while he was In public school. He was on the playground and a little boy roared at him close to his face like a lion. My son hit the little boy on the face, and got sent home for 2 days. My son had never been in trouble for hitting so I was very surprised. I asked my son why in the world did he do that. He could only cry and say it was so loud mommy he scared me. At the time I wasn't aware of his apd, his dad and I both talked to him and explained why this was not okay, but now I understand how an unexpected loud noise yelled in your face could cause a sudden reaction. We are at the beginning of our home school journey and I know I have tons to learn so I thank you for sharing your journey with us. Take care, and may God Bless you both.

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    1. Thank you so very much. We are always so happy to hear that our blog is helping others. I completely understand how the roaring in his face was frightening and he didn't know how to react; APD difficulties can be very stress inducing and leave our sweet kids feeling lost. I hope that you all enjoy homeschooling as much as we do; it has really been a blessing in our lives.

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