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.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Being a Teenager and Socializing with Auditory Processing Disorder - It's Very Difficult!

How is it that I can send my sweet girl of 13 over to a teen night at a friend's house full of happiness and hope and feeling good about herself only to pick her up in tears.  This auditory processing disorder keeps making her social life so hard!

She has never handled group socializing very well because she simply cannot keep up with the quick processing needed to talk in a group.  She can't "jump in" because she can't even decipher half the time what she is jumping into and by the time she does, the moment has passed and it is too late.

The last time, she came home telling me how a nice boy (the host of the party) told her she could get a drink.  She said no thank you and was processing what to say to "keep the conversation going" (we've been working on conversational strategies), but she said he turned and walked away before she could get the words out of her mouth.

Another group problem for her with auditory processing disorder is the sheer noise of too many people talking at once.  She says that she cannot even hear her own voice well and doesn't want to shout (shouting to her feels aggressive and she can't stand the sound of it when others do it and so certainly doesn't want to do it herself) but she thinks maybe people don't hear her because when she says hello or tries to speak to someone, she said they often ignore her like she's not even there.

So I keep scouring the internet for advice but always come up empty-handed.  Her and I can practice good social skills all we want, but others do not follow the same plan and so it just doesn't work.  Teenagers do not socialize according to proper manners or etiquette.  Teenagers do not take on the responsibility of making sure everyone is included or wait for someone to process a response - they move on quickly to the next excitement beckoning them.  This is normal for teenagerdome - and really most of human interactions in general.

So the teenager that cannot process auditory input or output quickly, who cannot decipher words among a cacophony of talking, and who already feels like all this auditory is difficult and stressful enough already...........well, that teenager has to find an alternative plan.  We're working on it!

click here to see the blog post at adpwarrior17 from which this quote was taken

*** I'm sure Hailey would love to hear how other teenagers with auditory processing disorder (or adults who have lived through it) are coping socially in their lives.  So if you have a story to share or some helpful advice or even just the pep talk of "It get's better", please share.

18 comments:

  1. Very well-written and I am so deeply connected to this post. My daughter is 8 and she will follow down Hailey's path in regards to social interactions. It has taken me a few years to get on board with this reality and now I am on board and like yourselves seek after that which will help improve her reciprocal conversational techniques.

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    1. Good luck on your journey Maranda.

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  2. Once again you are echoing the very things my daughter deals with. I WISH I had an answer to share with you but we haven't found any yet either. It is heartbreaking for me to watch her struggle with these things and you are right, no matter how much we practice at home, the rest of the world is different. It helps to know we are not alone though.

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    1. Thanks for posting Tracy. Good luck on your journey too. I agree that is helps so much to know others go through the same things - it especially helps Hailey to know that so many others are like her.

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  3. This is such a courageous blog. Thank you for sharing so transparently.
    Looking forward to reading more in 2014

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  4. I feel for you as my 11yo son has very similar issues with APD amongst other things. A bright sensitive young man, with a fun loving sense of humour, he has very low self esteem and also struggles with the day to day problems of sensory overload.

    Not sure if you've heard of the Arrowsmith Program. It is a program that addresses cognitive impairments in a fairly unconventional way based on the principles of neuroplasticity. I am about to enrol my son in one of the only schools in Australia that runs the program and am full of hope for what the program may do for him.

    After a rocky start in primary school, I realised he needed to be in a much smaller school, so I moved him to a school on the edge of the Melb in a small township and placed him in a school with 25 kids - his class has only 13 kids in total. It is a far more manageable environment for him with a strong culture of inclusion. I also kept him back in grade 2 which was difficult for him but has helped him in the classroom and given him the chance to "catch up".

    All of that certainly has helped but it is still just working around the issues and I am dreading high school. He is still not able to retain instructions in the classroom or at home, not able to follow the thread of the conversations with his peers, and he struggles with not being able to understand the activities/rules of the games around him which leaves him feeling isolated and (his words) "stupid".

    These kids are extraordinary. They have so much to deal with and they are having to work so much harder than everyone else at just trying to keeping pace with the world around them and their peers.

    Around 18 months ago, I discovered the work of Barbara Arrowsmith Young who developed the Arrowsmith program and school 30 yrs ago. I have read her book, "The Woman Who Changed Her Brain" in her book where she repeatedly describes my son's world of cognitive impairments. I went to hear her speak last year in Melbourne and was moved by her story and her personal journey. She spoke simply and openly about her own struggles and how her program has helped so many overcome their difficulties.

    Sadly she is based in Canada, however her school program has just recently come to Australis and after applying and being accepted, we will be moving for the duration of the program to Qld. I will review his progress after the first year and should be able to determine if it is helping or having an impact on him.

    Not sure this is relevant for you and your child but thought I'd share anyway.

    Thank you for your wonderful blog and I wish you and your daughter well in your journey.

    Naomi

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    1. Wow Naomi, that is so great that you found something you think will help your son. Please let me know a year out what you think of it - how much it helped and all. I agree; I think our kids are extraordinary - so brave, so strong, perseverant and bright. APD is a difficult thing to have, but they find a way to shine through even through the difficulties. Good luck on your journey too. :)

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    2. Hi Naomi, how is your son going as this year is quickly coming to an end. I hope it has been successful for him. I would be interested to know what you think of the Arrowsmith program also. We are considering the move to Qld but there are many complications and of course no guarantees. Our son is really happy at his current school, after a couple of years of bullying at another. I dont want to fail him again whilst at the same time acknowledging that he has got some learning issues- APD

      Brendan

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  5. My 14 yr old has APD, and also struggles socially. Here is what we've learned. The kids who will not wait to hear you out...aren't worth it anyway. Your daughter WILL find girls and boys who WILL wait for her to speak because they care and/or (but usually AND) are intelligent and realize if they just wait, they'll hear something usually insightful or at the very least relevant and interesting. It might take a while to find these people, though. In the meantime, consider a pen pal online! I have found online friendships go a long long way in helping preserve self esteem. (pen pal world) My daughter communicates with a girl in Canada, and she is so happy to sit and write an email about her life. When she has time to sort her thoughts, she communicates perfectly, it's only "on the spot" communication that requires some practice, but here's the thing, writing socially is still helpful for on the spot communication. I think also helpful is that she has an older sister that understands...I guess their communicating together is a little bit of practice too? I'm always scared for her, I drop her off at a party and just hope and pray there is something to do at the party where she can participate without constant chatter. As long as "just dance" is being played on the Wii, or something like that, she's fine! :-D

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    1. Thank you Nancy. I love what you have shared. My daughter too loves "Just Dance". Your comment about those not waiting to hear you out aren't worth it inspired me to have a conversation with Hailey about that; luckily she brought it up and your comment was there for me to draw upon. :) I think it helped her to hear that. Thank you <3

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  6. Hi there,

    My name is Christian, I am 25 year old student. I was diagnosed with an auditory processing problem at an early age and have the exact same problems with fast group conversations where I can't keep up. I've looked through the APD symptoms, my specific problems are maintaining attention, multiple step oral instructions, problem solving. I remember my maths teacher called me lazy when I got stuck on a problem and observed the methods of others before attempting a task - and got it right with practice.

    I am now studying a Master of Teaching and am wondering about resources specifically for teaching primary mathematics to children with APD. I have got the three books recommended above already.

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    1. Hi Christian, I could not find any nor did anyone I ask know of any academic research papers specifically about teaching mathematics to children with APD. I did find this link to some specifically about teaching mathematics to children with special educational needs. I hope it is helpful. http://rse.sagepub.com/content/24/2/97.short

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  7. Hi Christian. I don't know of any research involving teaching primary mathematics to children with APD but I will ask around and see if I can find anything. I do know from our own experience as well as that of other parents and children with APD that multi-sensory approaches have been very important - especially visual. I'll definitely see if I can find any research for you.

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  8. Hi there. I have an almost 12 y/o daughter with APD. She struggles to fit in socially and make connections. I think it gives ME more anxiety than it gives her. She just doesn't know how to take that extra step to bring relationships from acquaintance to friend. I've seen situations where a soccer buddy will say hi or ask what she did over the weekend and she just stares blankly. When I ask why she didn't respond, most times she says "I did" I'm realizing she's either missing the moment completely or thinks about the response but never gets it out. I wish parenting came with instructions.

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    1. :) Maybe you can invite one of the soccer buddies over to hang out one time. Or perhaps she really isn't interested in more than what she already has.

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  9. Thank you for creating awareness with your article. My sons are still under 5, but I do worry about any reason they might fall behind in school or with friends. I have no experience here, so forgive me if I am ignorant, but perhaps you could create situations where your daughter could practice with some of the more caring and sensitive kids? Perhaps host a game night or pizza night with 3-4 comfortable people in a comfortable situation. You/she could explain to them some of her challenges and give them practice in giving her more time to speak. Once they get to know more about her, it will help them know what to ask and how to engage her. Remember that people are usually awkward about things they don't understand. Rooting for you and your girl!

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    1. Thank you. Yes, we have done that and Hailey has a nice group of girls that she really enjoys hanging out with. She definitely prefers them all one-on-one, but she has developed enough of a bond with each of them that she can handle these friends in a group; they also know to take turns talking and she is comfortable enough with them to speak up and ask them to do so if they start talking over one another.

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