What Did You Say?
My son Eric was diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder or APD; I find this name ironic because I would have described his problem as Attention Paying Disdain!
Eric has always marched to his own drum. He wants to do what is required but he may not do it the same way as everybody else and I always admired this as it represented his independence. Now I am wondering if it was just because he never figured out exactly what he was supposed to be doing. What I viewed as a sign of creative genius was merely coping by trying to do what others were doing without understanding the instructions.
I have been struggling with this for years. I have defended Eric’s behavior, felt guilty about my own parenting and tried in vain not to compare him to his older brother and sister who are both star students. It is not that he doesn’t pay attention; he has a bottomless attention span for his chosen activities. He can draw, build with legos, and engage in solitary imaginary play for hours. Try to get his attention by calling his name and good luck. I guess I thought he suffered from “selective hearing.”
We had him assessed last year and told he was “fine” and assured that he would outgrow many of the things that I considered “concerns.” It was only because a close friend insisted I go somewhere private that I got the answers I needed.
Watching him take this assessment test was an eye opener. The counselor was amazed at how many words he knew while I was in tears when I saw how much he did not know. He has huge holes in his comprehension and hearing his sweet little voice give wrong answer after wrong answer was heart breaking.
Even though his hearing is perfect he misses the content, so if I tell him something in three sentences he hears it but he might only “get” a few words from each sentence. Or he may get one whole sentence. But it is unlikely that he will get the information you were giving him. So when I say: go to your room and put your toys away and then we can go to the park. He may just head straight to his room and get some sand toys and head to the front door. In his mind he is all set; he has his sand toys and is ready to go to the park. It is not his hearing or his ability to pay attention; it is his ability to comprehend what he hears.
After a disastrous attempt at kindergarten we pulled him out after six weeks. I was convinced it was mainly because of his immaturity but now I see it as so much more. There was no way he could have comprehended or followed all of the instructions he was given.
Because he is obviously so bright, his inability to follow along was viewed as a behavior problem which just made it all worse. He was not a “bad” kid but he was being treated like one. The numerous trips to the principal’s office were leading him down a path of a troubled student.
I admit it is a relief to have an actual diagnosis. I have suspected for a while something was not quite right. Now I know what it is! He can finally get the help and support he needs. And rather than view this as a “learning disability” I prefer to think of it as an opportunity.
I am fortunate to catch this early and we are sure that this fall he will finally be “ready” for kindergarten. We will start with speech therapy and go from there. There are tricks and skills we can use to help him get the information and learning skills he needs.
He may always learn differently but now I can learn how to teach him.