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Quality of Life and Progress-Enhancing Ideas

Improving the quality of life for a child with APD involves implementing lifestyle changes and accommodations at home and school, including reducing background noise, using visual aids, providing extra time for responses, and fostering open communication with teachers and educators.

Does your child have an auditory processing disorder diagnosis or you suspect Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), and you are concerned about what he is hearing, what is learning – what he is taking in from the world around him that so depends on spoken language?  More on what is APD here.

This is a natural concern, and you are not alone. Children with APD can face difficulties, but with the correct approaches and assistance, they can do well.

This article will examine several practical lifestyle modifications that can significantly improve the success of children with APD. There are strategies to promote your child’s growth and enhance their listening and communication abilities, from lowering background noise to employing visual aids.

So let’s begin the journey to success.

Lifestyle Changes For Supporting Children With APD

The starting point to understanding what your child is dealing with APD, think of sound through water. That’s an extreme image, but directionally it’s accurate.

Lifestyle changes refer to changes in habits, routines or the ideal environment for supporting children with APD.  The idea is to make life less exhausting, less frustrating and more rewarding – all aiming to build self-esteem and to encourage continued engagement in learning.

Here are several lifestyle changes to consider:

1. Reducing background noise

Have you ever attempted to speak with someone when there is a lot of background noise? It is challenging to make out the words and the process of trying to make out the word – the listening – takes a lot of concentration. This is the daily reality for children with APD.

And so recognizing where noisy backgrounds might come into play for your child and then thinking about practical ways to help your child in those situations is a good starting point. So how can you reduce background noise at home or in the classroom?  Here are a few strategies for different environments:

Supporting children with APD in the classroom:

  1. Classroom Design:  Talk to your child’s teacher about setting up the classroom in a way that minimizes noise distractions. For instance, carpeting or area rugs to absorb sound, as do soft wall coverings or acoustic panels. it might also be possible to position your child’s desk away from noisy areas such as doors that go out to a noisy hallway or windows facing a noisy playground.
  2. Preferential Seating: Ensure the child sits closer to the teacher and away from noisy distractions, such as fans, air conditioners, or classmates who are prone to making noise.
  3. Visual Supports: Encourage your child’s teacher to supplement auditory information with visual aids, such as written instructions, visual schedules, or diagrams, to help your child better understand and follow along with the lesson.

Supporting children with APD on the playground:

  1. Designated Quiet Areas: Could the school create designated quiet areas on the playground where the child can retreat when the noise becomes overwhelming. These areas could be equipped with seating or designated spots where the child can find some respite from excessive noise.
  2. Sensory Breaks: If part of your child’s APD is sensory overload, ask the teacher about scheduling regular sensory breaks during recess or playtime where your child can engage in calming activities in a quieter setting. This can help regulate sensory input and reduce stress.
  3. Communication Tools: Equip your child with assistive devices like FM systems or personal amplification systems that can help them better hear and understand conversations in noisy environments.

Supporting children with APD at home:

  1. Quiet Study Space: Set up a dedicated study area at home that is free from excessive noise. Use noise-absorbing materials like curtains, rugs, or foam panels to reduce background noise.  Similarly, be sensitive to the noise created by other family members and that impact on your child with APD.
  2. Limit Electronic Devices: Minimize the use of electronic devices that produce background noise, such as TVs or radios, when the child needs to concentrate or communicate.
  3. Communication Strategies: Teach family members to reduce background noise when speaking to the child. Encourage them to face the child directly, speak clearly and slowly, and minimize background distractions like loud music or conversation.
  4. Ear Protectors: Consider providing the child with ear protectors or noise-canceling headphones when engaging in activities where excessive noise is present, such as household chores or social gatherings.

Remember, it’s important to work collaboratively with teachers, therapists, and other professionals involved in the child’s care to tailor interventions and accommodations to their specific needs and preferences.

2. Encouraging listening

Children with APD need more listening practice to develop their language processing skills.  Treatments like Fast ForWord software present thousands of words or word fragments in quick succession – it’s a compressed way to hear hours of words in just a few minutes.

And so, anything that gets your child engaged in listening is helpful.  Now recall, that for your child, it can be like sound through water, so listening to anything migth not be a favorite activity. So your ideas need to be engaging!

  1. Word Association Games: Play word association games where you take turns saying a word and the child has to respond with a related word. This game helps improve listening and quick thinking skills.
  2. Simon Says: Play the classic game of Simon Says, where the child must listen carefully and follow instructions. This game helps develop auditory attention and processing skills.
  3. Sound Scavenger Hunt: Create a scavenger hunt where the child listens for specific sounds in their environment. For example, they might need to find and identify the sound of a ticking clock, running water, or chirping birds. This activity enhances auditory discrimination and sound awareness.
  4. Storytelling with a Twist: Read a story to the child, but intentionally change certain details or events. Afterwards, discuss what was different and encourage the child to actively listen for those changes. This activity improves listening comprehension and attention to detail.
  5. Following Directions: Provide the child with a set of instructions to complete a task, such as building a tower with blocks or drawing a specific picture. Make the instructions progressively more complex as the child becomes more proficient. This activity strengthens auditory processing and working memory skills.
  6. Auditory Memory Games: Play games that challenge auditory memory, such as “I’m Going on a Picnic” or “Memory Chain.” In these games, participants take turns adding an item to a list and recalling the previous items correctly. This activity enhances the child’s ability to remember and recall auditory information.
  7. Listening to Audio Books: Have the child listen to audio books or recorded stories while following along with the printed text. This helps improve listening comprehension, vocabulary, and reading skills simultaneously.
  8. Musical Activities: Engage the child in musical activities that promote active listening, such as playing musical instruments, singing along to songs, or participating in rhythm exercises. These activities enhance auditory discrimination and temporal processing skills.  For younger children, consider classical music – either just a Mozart playlist, or in a more formal way using The Listening Program or similar.
  9. Reading to Your Child.  There is so much research on the power of a nightly reading ritual, so whatever you are doing, don’t leave out reading aloud to your child.

Remember to make these activities enjoyable and age-appropriate to maintain the child’s engagement and motivation. Regular practice and repetition will help the child develop and strengthen their listening skills over time.

3. Using visual aids

Using visual aids can be a helpful strategy for supporting children with APD – with homework, prepping for a test or even to help convey what a coach might be saying in a situation where your child did not understand.  Visuals can help. Here are some suggestions on how to incorporate visual aids:

  1. Visual Schedules: Create a visual schedule or checklist that outlines the steps or tasks involved in completing the homework. This helps the child understand the sequence of activities and provides a visual reference to keep track of their progress.
  2. Charts and Diagrams: Implement graphic organizers such as charts, diagrams, mind maps, concept webs, or flowcharts to help the child get things or to organize. These visual tools can assist in outlining the structure of their assignments or breaking down complex tasks into more manageable components.
  3. Visual Timers: Use visual timers or countdown clocks to help the child manage their time effectively while working on homework. This provides a visual representation of the remaining time and helps them stay on track.
  4. Color Coding: Introduce a color-coding system to visually differentiate different subjects, topics, or types of homework assignments. For instance, you can assign specific colors to math, language arts, and science assignments, making it easier for the child to locate and prioritize their work.
  5. Photo Examples: Use visual examples or models to illustrate concepts or problem-solving strategies. This can include photos, diagrams, charts, or visual representations of mathematical or scientific processes. Visual examples help the child better comprehend and apply the information.

By incorporating visual aids, you can enhance the child’s understanding, organization, and recall of information while working on homework. It’s important to identify the types of visual aids that work best for your child and tailor them to their individual needs and learning style.

4. Providing extra time

Most children with APD need more time. For them, it’s a concentrated effort required to hear the actual words, then time is required to process the meaning and then react.  This is in contrast to the ideal where a child can listen, understand and thinking about what they are hearing – all at the same time. That’s why providing extra time for children with APD is so helpful. Here are some strategies:

  1. Inform Teachers and Educators: Ensure that your child’s teachers and educators are aware of their APD and the need for additional response time. Open communication with them can help facilitate the implementation of appropriate accommodations.
  2. Provide Advance Notice: Give your child advance notice about questions or tasks that require a response. This provides some context which can help make the listening task more manageable and possibly provides a head start on formulating a response.
  3. Repeat and Rephrase: If your child doesn’t respond immediately, repeat or rephrase the question or instruction to give them another opportunity to process the information. This repetition can aid their comprehension and response formulation.
  4. Pause and Wait: Allow for extended pauses after asking a question or giving an instruction. This extra time provides your child with the opportunity to process the information at their own pace and formulate a thoughtful response.
  5. Use Visual Cues to Communicate There is Time: Implement visual cues, such as raising a hand or displaying a specific signal, to indicate to your child that they have extra time to respond. This helps them understand that they are not being rushed and can take the time they need.
  6. Break Tasks into Smaller Parts: If a task or question is particularly complex, break it down into smaller, more manageable parts. This allows your child to process each component separately, reducing the cognitive load and providing them with a better chance to respond accurately.
  7. Provide Written Prompts: If verbal instructions are challenging for your child, consider providing written prompts or questions. This allows them to refer back to the written information as they process and formulate their response.
  8. Use Assistive Technology: Consider utilizing assistive technology tools, such as speech-to-text software or communication apps, that can help your child express their thoughts and responses more easily. These tools can enhance their ability to communicate effectively and alleviate time pressure.

Remember that each child’s needs may vary, so it’s essential to observe and communicate with your child to determine the optimal amount of additional response time required. Collaborate with teachers, therapists, and other professionals involved in your child’s education to ensure consistency and effectiveness of accommodations across different settings.

5. Seeking professional help

If you’re concerned about your child’s listening and communication skills, seeking professional help can be a valuable step in supporting their development. Gemm Learning provides APD treatment at home with professional oversight.

Bottom Line: You Can Make a Difference

In conclusion, we’ve looked at some straightforward and original lifestyle adjustments for supporting children with APD. There are many strategies to promote your child’s growth and enhance their listening and communication abilities, from lowering background noise to employing visual aids.

Keep in mind that every child is unique, so what suits one child may not suit another. It could be beneficial to test out a few different strategies to determine which one suits your child the best. And if you require it, don’t be hesitant to seek professional assistance. Your child with APD can achieve their full potential with the correct help and direction.

At Gemm Learning, we think that addressing the root of any issue will always result in a faster resolution. That’s why you need to make use of the Fast ForWord neuroscience software to end your child’s frustrations from auditory processing.  For more info, get in touch today.