Auditory processing disorders are often masked as other things. Sometimes, people think kids aren’t paying attention or are daydreaming. In fact, it can take the brain some extra time to process the information coming through the auditory system.
What are some signs of auditory processing disorder or APD?
- Is your child easily distracted or unusually bothered by loud or sudden noises?
- Are noisy environments upsetting to your child?
- Does your child’s behavior and performance improve in quieter settings?
- Does your child have difficulty following directions, whether simple or complicated?
- Does your child have reading, spelling, writing, or other speech-language difficulties?
- Is abstract information difficult for your child to comprehend?
- Are verbal (word) math problems difficult for your child?
- Is your child disorganized and forgetful?
- Are conversations hard for your child to follow?
APD is an often misunderstood problem because many of the behaviors noted above also can appear in other conditions like learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and even depression. Although APD is often confused with ADHD, it is possible to have both. It is also possible to have APD and specific language impairment or learning disabilities.
Strategies applied at home and school can ease some of the problem behaviors associated with APD. Because it’s common for kids with CAPD to have difficulty following directions, for example, these ‘Out of the POCKET tips’ might help:
- Since most kids with APD have difficulty hearing amid noise, it’s very important to reduce the background noise at home and at school.
- Have your child look at you when you’re speaking -**NOTE this might be difficult for many kids who have trouble making eye contact. NEVER force eye contact, but instead, be sure your child’s not attending to something other than your instructions.
- Use simple, expressive sentences.
- Speak at a slightly slower rate and at a mildly increased volume.
- Ask your child to repeat the directions back to you and to keep repeating them aloud (to you or to himself or herself) until the directions are completed.
- For directions that are to be completed at a later time, writing notes, wearing a watch, and maintaining a household routine also help. General organization and scheduling also can be beneficial.
It’s especially important to teach your child to notice noisy environments, for example, and move to quieter places when listening is necessary. Self-advocacy is critical as kids get older.
Other strategies that might help:
- Provide your child with a quiet study place (not the kitchen table).
- Maintain a peaceful, organized lifestyle.
- Encourage good eating and sleeping habits.
- Assign regular and realistic chores, including keeping a neat room and desk.
- Build your child’s self-esteem.
Be sure to keep in regular contact with school officials about your child’s progress. Kids with APD aren’t typically put in special education programs. Instead, teachers can make it easier by:
- altering seating plans so the child can sit in the front of the room or with his or her back to the window
- providing additional aids for study, like an assignment pad or a tape recorder
- ask for teacher notes or outlines from lessons
Here’s a link to the Nemours website with more information about auditory processing disorder.
One of the most important things that both parents and teachers can do is to acknowledge that APD is real. Symptoms and behaviors are not within the child’s control. What is within the child’s control is recognizing the problems associated with APD and applying the strategies recommended both at home and school.