After receiving a diagnosis of Auditory Processing Disorder for their child, many parents spend hours on the computer researching the term and seeking answers, only to walk away feeling more confused, frustrated, and sometimes even more concerned. It was not that long ago that it was difficult to find any information at all on the subject. Now there seems to be quite a bit of information out there, however, much of it is confusing, contradicting, and can leave a parent feeling very overwhelmed.
With the hope of bringing a little clarity to this huge topic, I would like to keep things simple. Although APD is not simple, for the purpose of this blog, I am going to keep to the basics and start with the truth: your child is not broken. They are perfect the way they are. They do not have to be fixed. God does not make mistakes. This is the first thing I like to tell parents when they bring their child to me to be evaluated, and although I am about to give them all kinds of statistics showing how their child performed on standardized tests, it is so important to know their child "is not broken."
With that being said, let's explore the problem. Here is a child who may be struggling in school, challenged in social situations with their peers, may be faced with anxieties, frustration, anger, and low self esteem. However, if they have an under developed auditory processing system, then listening for them is work. It is for this reason that they may appear as a selective listener, have trouble focusing or paying attention. This in turn may cause a language processing delay that makes learning language based material very difficult for them.
None of these mean that the child cannot learn! They just have difficulty learning the way they are being taught. The schools are set up to teach to the masses, and because not all children learn the same way, many children are then labeled learning disabled, when the truth is they are only disabled because of the way they are being taught.
When placed in the right environment with a learning strategy right for them, and when they are being taught to there strengths instead of their weaknesses, these kids will thrive. Now with that being said, not all children were meant to excel in all areas of academics, but that does not mean they are not smart. Einstein said, "everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid." Our children are not stupid, but by placing them in these challenging situations, and forcing them to learn in a way that is just not a match for them, leaves them feeling "stupid". It is then this feeling, this tape recorder that plays in the back of their mind, which can last a lifetime if we are not careful.
We must all be successful in order to feel successful. When our children are denied the feeling of success, when they are continually placed in situations in which they cannot succeed, they will eventually believe that they are not capable of success. This is what is broken, not our children.
So what is the answer? What can we do to help our children?
We must look beyond the challenges, beyond the behaviors and beyond judgment. Your child is just developing strategies in order to survive in a world that to them may be quite confusing due to a disorganized sensory processing system.
In upcoming blogs, we will discuss specific areas of weakness, how to identify them, how to strengthen them, and how to emotionally support our children and ourselves as parents. Keep in mind, when preparing to take off on an airplane, the flight attendant always instructs us that in case of an emergency always place the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping others. You will always do a better job helping your children if you help yourself first. When was the last time you did something for you?