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by Deli Marden

I hear everything at what seems like the same volume but can rarely figure out which direction sounds are coming from. At times, though, I don’t hear anything, at all.  This is my story of growing up with APD, Auditory Processing Disorder.

When I was 8 years old and in third grade – this was last century, I was diagnosed by neurologists at Yale University with dyslexia and APD.  Even with these diagnoses and labels to explain why I still couldn’t decode the word “the” and just about every other word, people seemed to have no idea of what to do or how to help a little kid like me.

I was given glasses but had 20/20 vision.

I was given Ritalin, but I didn’t have a focus problem, I just couldn’t process what was said in the moment, as fast as everybody else.

And I had to suffer through weekly sessions with a speech therapist who constantly yelled at me for not trying hard enough and not doing what she said.

What was so hard for me to understand, back then, was why I was in trouble when she the one who said the Specific Ocean, you know, the ocean where California is.  If my family went for ice cream, back then, someone would have to translate my order, because nobody serves benitle ice cream; that’s what I thought vanilla was really called, because that’s what I heard when other people spoke.

The Learning To Read Journey

Ordering ice cream was not my only hurdle as a kid with dyslexia and APD.  Reading was basically impossible because decoding and automaticity didn’t exist in my brain.

It wasn’t until 8th grade that I finally no longer had to recite every rule of every sound every letter makes while also reciting the rules that were broken.  I had to do 100 more steps than anyone else just to read a sentence, but many of my teachers said I just needed to try harder, ha!

Effort was not something I or most kids with APD fall short on.  We put in more effort than any of the regular kids.  It’s exhausting on our little minds but we keep going and we keep trying to push through, even when so many adults just don’t get it.

Getting Help

There wasn’t much available to me when I was a kid.  Fast ForWord wasn’t even in development when I was navigating my learning labels (as I like to call them because I am not and was not disabled, my brain just was different).

As an adult, I wish Fast ForWord had existed, I know that it would have helped my brain process faster and accurately at an earlier age and I’m positive I would have fought my mom about doing it.  I’d use the common kid excuse of, “nobody else has to do this!”  But I also know my mom would have won that battle, every day.

I was lucky to have was a mom who fought the entire way, advocating for me, working with me to continue practicing how to spell and sound out horrible words like business and exist.  She’d read me all the assigned books and make me follow along with a book in my hand.

Life For Me Now

As an adult, I know my superpower is my auditory processing.  I hear everything, every sound everywhere from the humming buzz of florescent lights to the sonar squeak bats make while hunting at dusk.  I’m the person who always reaches for the volume knob to turn the music or the TV down.  Sometimes my ears get tired at the end of the day and I don’t respond as quickly to noises as I normally do, but it’s OK.

And I believe it’s going to be OK for all the kids out there, kids like me.