Saturday, March 2, 2013
BEST Tips for Auditory Processing Challenges
Children with auditory processing disorder (APD) have difficulty listening in environments with background noise. Of course, if hearing difficulties are noticed or APD is suspected, first consider a comprehensive hearing test prior to further evaluation for APD. If you see your child or your student struggling to process oral directions or other information, there are a few things you can do so that the child will have a greater chance of experiencing success in following the directions or understanding the information.
1. Discover ways to change the listening environment.
First, turn off nearby noise-generating devices as much as you are able. A television or CD player should be turned off and seating should be provided away from a heating or cooling system’s fan, etc. Also, eliminate any other distractions that could be visually stimulating. This is particularly important for the area of your child’s or student’s homework desk and tables.
2. Provide tips & strategies to help remember directions.
It is very important to teach a child with APD some specific strategies to cope with the challenges of following directions. It’s a good idea to even involve your child in developing some of these strategies. Allow him to become part of the solution, not just the problem.
• Ask the child, “What do you think will help you remember?“ List these on a small poster or a large bookmark for the child’s easy reference when needed.
• Some children do well when writing notes to themselves as a “crutch” or anchor. Post-It Notes can be especially effective for this, particularly when posted at eye level. Other children are more successful if they carry 3” X 5” index cards with notes or prompts.
• Sometimes, placing a colorful band around the wrist or a favorite sticker on the child’s hand can be just the kinds of visual reminders needed to carry out a specific task. Helping to develop coping strategies such as these will help the child or student learn to problem solve and become more independent, an important life skill in and of itself.
• Teach the child to visualize each step in the set of directions. Ask her to create a mental picture of the task in her mind’s eye.
• Ask the child to repeat a set of directions several times in a low voice (and later, silently) until the task is finished.
1. I can see myself going into my room.
2. Then, I can see myself getting my bookbag.
3. I now see myself putting my math homework into my math folder.
4. Now, I can see myself placing the math folder into the bookbag.
5. Finally, I can see myself closing the bookbag.
4. Help the child create a daily record book.
This should include a calendar on which to record daily events and homework assignments. Help the child organize schoolwork. Teach the child to check off completed items. Show the child your own systems for keeping track of appointments (palm pilots, date books, kitchen calendar, lists, etc.)
5. Structure is critical---Create and maintain helpful schedules and routines.
Children with APD are most successful completing tasks when those tasks are part of an established and structured routine. Doing homework at the same time every night and in the same space or location can contribute to more success for these children.
6. Communicate often (and effectively as well as respectfully) with teachers and therapists.
Feedback and input from your child’s teacher or your student’s parents can be invaluable in helping bring about improvement with APD issues as well as other learning challenges for a child. This will reveal which strategies are working for the child at school, and will give the opportunity to tell others what is working at home.
To do this effectively, establish a mutually agreeable day and time to communicate as well as the preferred method of communication (i.e. phone, email, handwritten note, etc.) Providing a colorful folder for a child or student to carry important to school and home will increase the chances of the folder being utilized and remembered---regularly.
7. Use daily activities as opportunities to improve listening skills.
There are many ways to incorporate listening skills practice into daily activities:
• Ask your child to help make a list of needed items for his birthday party before visiting the store. Dictate 2-3 items and have him write them down on the list. (Remind him of the strategies taught previously, if he struggles.)
• When reading a book aloud to your child or student within the classroom setting, ask the child to summarize what a character said or to list what has happened in the story to that point. Talk about idioms or riddles as well, since children with APD often have difficulty understanding figurative language and inferences.
• Play "listening" games in the car or at "wait times" in your classroom. “Add-on” games are great memory builders. (Example: I went to the zoo and I saw_____, _____, ____, etc.)
8. Use interesting & motivating projects to practice following directions and sequencing.
Projects that are meaningful, rewarding and enjoyable are great ways to practice the learned strategies for following directions. Those that involve the five senses can be even more effective. Short, concrete projects work best:
• Simple but delicious recipes from kid’s magazines (Read directions and child can do the steps.)
• New, card or board games (Read directions aloud and child can interpret.)
• Hobby kits (such as for building a model airplane, small toy, crafts, etc.) (Read directions and child recalls or follows the sequence.)
9. Give directions in more effective ways.
To encourage more success in following directions and to reduce frustration for all, consider changing your delivery of instructions:
• Think of effective ways to reduce any background noise.
• Gain attention with a touch or voice.
• Make sure the child is looking at you when you speak.
• Speak at a slightly slower rate, with more expression.
• Use simple, short sentences as much as possible.
• Repeat a direction once, if needed, again at a slower rate.
• Break down a set of directions into several parts. Be sure to pause briefly between the steps of the directions. This will allow time for the child or student to properly process each part of the directions at a time.
10. Help build the child’s self-esteem by encouraging changes in the her attitude.
• Ask your child or student to think of herself as an active member of a team, one who is involved in bringing about the solution.
• Help the child understand that all people, especially adults, use strategies everyday to make life better and easier for themselves and others.
• Make a chart or graph showing the child’s successes. This will become a visual reminder and motivator for the child to continue making progress.
The Source for Processing Disorders by Gail J. Richards
CAPD Assessment - General Principles by Jeanane M. Ferre, PhD
Website containing materials relating to language and auditory skills:
Website with FREE informational handouts and materials for purchase:
Website for East Peoria School District 86
For information on customizable reading tools:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers
Image courtesy of: Lexercise at http://www.lexercise.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/ear.jpg