How can you make life easier for your child with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) . In this video interview Devon Barnes, speech pathologist and APD specialist gives eight practical tips for parents.
Some of the tips from the interview are:
- Reduce your child’s frustration by being understanding and compassionate about their difficulty.
- Make sure you have your child’s full attention before you speak to them.
- Have your child face you when you speak to them.
- Keep instructions short
Watch the video interview to see all the tips:
Prefer to read the video transcript? Here it is.
8 Tips to help your Auditory Processing Disorder child at home
Interviewer: Devon, we've established, then, perhaps, that there's a problem with auditory processing at home. What can parents do to help?
Tip # 1 Be understanding & compassionate
Devon Barnes: First and foremost, I think, I would advise parents to have a lot of understanding and compassion so that it eliminates frustration for the child and, also, for the parent. So understanding that sometimes the child won't respond immediately, or will respond inappropriately.
Tip # 2 Have your child face you to get their full attention
So some simple things a parent can do is, when they need the child to listen and follow an instruction, make sure they have the child's attention, have the child facing them.
Tip # 3 Short instructions
And always keep their instructions short.
Tip # 4 Not too many things to do one instruction
Don't give the child lots of things to do with one long instruction.
Interviewer: And this refers back to what we were talking about before, by giving them some space to answer, or some space to respond to the instruction.
Tip # 5 Check your child understands
Devon Barnes: Yes, yes. And don't get frustrated if they don't do the thing you've asked them to do immediately. And then you can even ask the child, say, Nick, now what does Mummy want you to do? That's right, go and get your school bag from the laundry.
And so check that the child has actually understood.
Interviewer: Okay, so reinforcing the fact that the instruction was...
Devon Barnes: Understood.
Interviewer: ...yeah, correctly understood. Okay, so one of the harder ones. What about the television? Do we turn it off?
Tip # 6 Limit TV time
Devon Barnes: I think you do limit the amount of television that children are exposed to, particularly during the school week. Because I think it interferes with homework time, and we know that they need a very quiet environment.
So I'd definitely be advising limiting screen time during the school week, particularly in the morning before school. I think it's that's a big trap, to let children watch television before they go to school, because I think they need that quiet time.
Tip # 7 Charts for task sequences
They also need a routine in the morning. So if the child has half a dozen things to do to get ready for school, rather than rely on a spoken instruction, a parent can actually have a chart with the visual representation of each task. So, get up, go to the bathroom, put my school uniform on, pack my bag. Do I have my lunch box? Do I have my sports shoes?
And actually have a picture of all those things. And then they can check those off each day, and so that makes those jobs get done with less distress.
Interviewer: What about talking to the school?
Tip # 8 Talk to your child's teachers
Devon Barnes: That's very important, so, I think, the maximum amount of communication parents can have with the school, the teacher, the special needs teacher, and any other professionals involved in the child's care.
For example, the child may be also seeing a speech-language pathologist. And so, the optimal outcomes will occur if there's maximum communication between the parent, the school, and any outside agency involved.
Interviewer: If a child is receiving treatment, and a parent is working with a speech-language pathologist, and you’re talking to the school, do we have any idea as to how long it takes to get any improvement?
Devon Barnes: It's hard to say, but I would say that the better the communication, and if we're all on the same page as we speak, the outcome for that child is going to be much improved.
Interviewer: So you probably wouldn't want to just talk to the special needs teacher? You'd probably want to talk to all of the teachers, I would suspect.
Devon Barnes: Yes. And particularly the classroom teacher and the special needs teacher. And even the sports teacher. Any teacher that child is interacting with.
Interviewer: Is it a case where that particular student might have to seek special provisions at exam time, perhaps? Is it worth going down that path, or can we work through that in the normal situation?
Devon Barnes: I think the special provision issue has to be made after the child has had some intervention for several years, and to see where they're at after that intervention. But if they're still struggling, particularly with their literacy skills or taking in information, we need to consider that special provision.
Interviewer: If a parent had a suspicion that something was not quite right, how long would you let something like that go before you did something like make an assessment, or have the child go through an assessment?
Devon Barnes: I think as soon as you're aware that the child is struggling, you would hopefully want to make some approach to some professional to start the ball rolling, really.
And the first person I would speak to is the teacher. Because teachers know, and teachers know very early on when a child has a difficulty. Experienced teachers will tell you in the first term of kindergarten if a child has an issue.
Interviewer: Do you find that, in all of the people that you've spoken to and met who are involved with this problem over the years, is there a bit of a taboo about this? Do some people find this hard to talk about?
Devon Barnes: I think there are some professionals who still like to see auditory processing as just part of the wider issue of attention deficit, but we do know that for those children with APD, it is very much a problem related to perception of the speech signal, the auditory signal.
And it is distinct from attention deficit. Some children can have both difficulties, but it is very much a distinct problem with distinct remediation strategies that are needed.
Interviewer: So parents should waste no time?
Devon Barnes: Absolutely. The best outcomes will come with early diagnosis and appropriate intervention.
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