I had a delightful experience last week. I had the opportunity to attend a class about Auditory Processing Disorders (APD) given by Jennifer L. Holland, author of the book Train the Brain to Hear. (She is also on Facebook at TreatingAPD.) I get emotional about this because it was another one of those tender mercies from the Lord when you KNOW that what you were inspired to do was the right thing.
She shared many things in her presentation – all of which was very illuminating and fascinating to me as I thought about my life and daughter who struggles with APD. For instance, an APD person is overly sensitive to noise and can’t filter out background noise. This results in the person (in the most mild form) only hearing about 65% of spoken syllables. That statistic gets lower the more severe the case of APD. Those sounds kind of bounce around in the neurons in the brain and may or may not reach their intended target. This is very stressful for a person struggling to make sense of their world of noise.
One thing she said really caught my attention. “The effects of stress on APD kids absolutely PREVENTS the child from ever remembering short term to long term.” As a result, a person struggling with APD often struggles with many things – reading, writing, listening, following directions, fitting in, feeling confident and smart (even though they are), and the list can go on. I saw this first hand with HorseyBug. She just struggled all the time in public school. She would get behind in school work, have to sit in the hall to finish it (even more noise), sit out recess to finish it, and never get it done. We would have to work on everything for 3 hours in the evening when she was already so stressed out. It was awful! At the end of that school year, I felt prompted to pull her out and homeschool.
As Mrs. Holland presented her information, I was impressed with how much more we have learned in the last few years about this serious issue. She has identified 5 Types within the APD diagnosis that help pinpoint the areas that cause the most trouble for APD people. Very briefly, those areas include:
- Decoding Deficit – These are the children who seem not hear, and are always asking “What?” They have trouble with new concepts and vocabulary, do better with visual clues, report trouble in group learning settings, academic problems often exist involving reading decoding, note taking, and following attention.
- Integration – These people have a deficit in tasks that require multi-sensory input, and often say “It’s too much.” They tend to watch others before starting a task, have reading, writing, and spelling problems, and require transition time between activities. They do not answer questions easily.
- Prosodic – This person cannot tell the difference in voice fluctuations – are very sensitive about people “he yelled at me”. They are unable to hear variances in others voices and cannot correctly use their own voices to reflect rhythm, tone and volume. Because of this, they often have social problems (and doesn’t like talking on the phone).
- Associative – This person has a slow down in the processing, causing them to feel lost – often you hear a “huh?” They cannot remember more then one thing on a list.
- Output-Input Organization – This person cannot seem to organize themselves or their information and their catch phrase is “I don’t know”.
Mrs. Holland has established actual treatments to train a child’s brain to create new paths for information to follow. She has therapy sessions with APD children and she shares them in her book (linked above). They are fascinating. Keep in mind that these sessions are generally used with public school kids, usually middle school age and older (APD is not usually diagnosed until 9 yo, and 7 is the earliest they diagnose it.)
- Classical music has been scientifically proven to bring your brain to a calm resting point. Her sessions start with 10 minutes (at least) of classical music while putting together a lego kit, drawing or coloring. This brings the stressed out kid with mis-firing, tired neurons to a restful point. After they calm down, she moves on.
- Processing Games – these are designed to have a child practice their skills of decoding and processing information.
- Comprehension/Short Term Memory Work – specifically reading and remembering work. She will have a child read a story and then put it away.
- Phoneme Exercises – this is the core training done to retrain the brain to hear syllables and their place in a word in a noisy environment (she uses a “hallway noise” video from youtube)
- Reading Comprehension Narration – now she asks what they remember from the story they read.
- learn to play an instrument
- sing in a choir
- learning a foreign language
- Playing games like Scrabble, Simon or SimonFlash, Zoo Phonics, Whiz Kid Card Game from Discovery Toys, Lego kits with instructions, and Animal Logic