By Valerie Rice | December 30, 2020
Have you ever seen a movie where people meet each other but speak different languages? They try desperately to communicate and, despite intelligence and perfect ears, the message just doesn’t go through? This can be shown as either hilarious or devastating, but it is a lot like auditory processing disorder.. Except in the case of APD, the language is the same. A person with APD can hear everything you say, but something in the brain makes it difficult to understand. So, as frustrating as it is, your message is lost in translation.
WHAT IS APD
Basically, APD is a difficulty in differentiating between sounds. I would imagine that a book by Dr. Seuss would be a maddening bunch of noise if read aloud given the sheer amount of rhyming going on. For people with APD the words that rhyme can all sound the same. This leads to numerous problems in daily life such as: difficulty following spoken directions, being easily distracted but sudden noises, difficulty following conversation, and so on.
Thanks to symptom overlap, it is difficult to distinguish APD from other disorders. It can mimic ADHD in the inability to pay attention and cognitive issues when it comes to memory recall and response time. There are tests for APD and, controversial or not, this specific set of symptoms can be identified and treated separately or in conjunction with similar disorders.
There is no cure for APD, so realistically speaking, the best way to treat this disorder is with environmental changes. Some of my favorite treatments for this and other similar disorders can be bought online. I am talking about sensory items!! My favorite website is funandfunction.com (no, I am not getting paid to say that, my kids have autism, remember? But send me free chewies! jk) because they have OT quality stuff and a filter to get you EXACTLY what you need without trying to oversell you. And I shop in my jammies. Win-win.
Additionally, you can limit the amount of speech you project at the person. If you need to speak instructions, do so in simple, one step sentences, with plenty of space in between. For example: Amy, click on the hyperlink. (wait for it to be done) Amy, click on the chewie tube (wait for it) Amy, click on check out. See? Simple. (Amy, don’t do it, chewies are not helpful here).
For outside treatment, get your person a speech and language pathologist (SLP). Not only are they super handy for processing words and sounds, but you may find that your person is less emotional once they can understand you. The exact treatment will vary based on age and environment, but that ADHD diagnosis might even disappear, since the two are so very often confused. And just an FYI: medication is not going to help. For more ideas, click here.
TIPS AND TRICKS
Now that you and your person are set on your journey, here are some guidelines to help improve your daily communication. Face each other and make eye contact. This helps ensure that you are focused on the conversation and minimizes distractions. Enunciate. Speaking clearly and articulating your sounds will help your person as they try to understand exactly what you are saying. Mumbling is for GenZ rappers. Slow Down. If you have ever taken a foreign language class you know why. The faster someone speaks, the more difficult it is to pick up on nuance and whole words. There is more, so here is a link. Good luck!
Not very disorder is the end of the world In fact, there are very few that are. HOWEVER, each disorder comes with its own frustration, barriers, and tear filled nights. It would be lovely if professionals would drop out of the sky, wave a wand and hand us diagnoses and resources, but most of them won’t do that. So have fun on your journey through the links provided and enjoy growing with your person. Until next time, be well!