Auditory Processing Disorder

12 11 2011

photo credit edenpictures

I am writing this in the hope it will help others. I have no financial or other interest in this company, or the products they sell, I have no conflict of interest to declare.

One of my sons has Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). This is a Learning Disorder whereby people do not appropriately process information that they hear. In his case this has manifested in being unable to maintain a concentration span, and difficulty remembering things. This has of course had a severe impact on his learning.

We had difficulty getting him diagnosed. Initially a psychologist through the school suggested APD was the problem. We took him to an audiologist who apparently specialises in this diagnosis. Unfortunately the audiologist wouldn’t complete the diagnostic tests because it appeared that Hamish had glue ear (ear infection whereby the thick gluey fluid behind the eardrum holds the ear-drum solid, impacting on hearing and also on the measuring devices they use to test the flexibility and responsiveness of the eardrum).

So we took him away and booked him in with an Ear Nose and Throat surgeon. Two months later at the ENT appointment, his ears were fine. Back to the audiologist. Two months later, again the audiologist couldn’t diagnose him because of glue ear. Repeat a couple of times, and we gave up. End result: paid a lot in medical bills, still no diagnosis.

We decided to treat him as if APD was the problem.

A number of friends and work colleagues told me about a company called Sonic Learning, which has a computer program called Fast ForWord for APD. Not cheap they said, but it made an amazing difference for their children. They jumped a couple of years in their reading age. When your child is already several years behind, this sort of jump is unheard of.

Speech therapist friends and colleagues were less enthusiastic. Teachers were skeptical, saying sometimes it seemed to work, but maybe the children were just that little bit more mature and that was what made the difference.

Well we eventually bit the bullet and bought the program. Five nights a week for an hour a night the child sits at the computer and does a series of six x ten-minute “games”. They have to follow instructions that tell them to do two or three tasks in order. They have to pick high and low sounds in order. They have to tell the difference between consonants and understand complex sentences. As they progress, they get a little harder.

I have to say the effort to get it done regularly every night is difficult. The tasks are monotonous. One friend told me on one of the games she actually couldn’t pick the difference between the consonants (we know where her child got the APD, don’t we?)

We did one whole round, slowly progressing. At the end of the three months, the teachers told us he was concentrating more at school, staying on task.

Because we hadn’t finished we took a month off (I really don’t think he would have done another round straight away) then went back on for a month.

And suddenly a miracle. My son, who previously couldn’t remember more than two digits at a time, can suddenly remember my ten digit phone number – and we haven’t even tried to teach him, he has taught himself.

And another miracle. A speech therapy assessment which included APD aspects has put him within the normal range for his age. To be sure, the low end of normal but within normal range.

This is an absolute miracle, and more than we could have imagined might happen.

So if you are thinking about doing this program, here are my comments – it’s not cheap, it takes committment from you as a parent as well as from the child (I actually sit and watch him do it, occasionally giving him suggestions on technique such as “why don’t you click the bells in order rather than randomly so you can remember where they are”, and it is pretty boring for me too) and in our case the miracles didn’t come until the second round.

But it has worked for us.


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4 responses

12 11 2011
cristycoates

It’s just so wonderful! Well done for persisting- it can be so hard when the child is resistant.

And well done, H! Amazing results!

12 11 2011
Mudmap

thanks – and thanks for your help! We were amazed when we got the results from the speechie.

19 01 2012
marcon

how old was your son when you started on this program

19 01 2012
Mudmap

Hi! He was 11 years old – but I rather wish we had started him a number of years earlier. I don;t know if there are specific reccomendations but a friend did it with her son (not so severe) at about age 7 and said he jumped up a couple of years in reading age. We are now doing the advanced level of the program in all but one of the games and a week ago he managed to make a significant jump in two of the games he finds hardest. A real bonus is his sense of achievement.

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