Real questions asked by Real Parents on Living with APD – PART 2
This blog is written by Anna:
Hi my name is Anna and I’m sixteen. I excel in athletics, love working with younger children, love being with friends and family, love listening to music, and just being a normal teenager. Oh, and I also have Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD or APD).
I found this out when I was about 12 when I was in the 7th grade. It did not occur to me at that age much and I pushed the fact that I had APD aside for awhile. As school work, and social issues started becoming harder it was easier for me to see the APD in me. I have been paying more attention to it in high school, and now understand what APD is and how to explain it.
I do best explaining things, and especially my APD through writing which I had discovered through blogging about it.
To learn more about how APD affects me and many others swirling around the world, please visit my blog at apdwarrior17.blogspot.com !! You can also contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
~ I promise you that for every disability you have, you are blessed with more than enough abilities to overcome your challenges – Nick Vujicic
Do any of your teachers just not get it and do you feel comfortable telling them what needs to be said? If so, what age did you feel you could advocate for yourself?
Yes, especially in the past this has happened as well. Some of them assume I didn’t “do” my homework because I didn’t want to ‘try” even though the true reason is I certainly do try and I did not understand the assignment. One of my pet-peeves is when a teacher assumes I didn’t try, or I didn’t work hard enough. I want to cry when I hear that because they don’t know what they’re talking about, I try very hard and it’s very stressful when I look at how many hours I put into my studies and how many hours I don’t put into other activities. The teachers who say to me “You’re not trying” or “You’re not working hard enough” are usually the ones who don’t understand.You know my freshman year of high school (year 9) is when I started trying to advocate for myself, and it worked well. The work itself wasn’t very hard, so I felt it was easier to go in for help. Plus, I really liked my teachers and I really felt connected with them because they understood me. My sophomore year (year 10) I struggled with advocating for myself because the work was harder, and I wasn’t able to connect with my teachers and I felt they weren’t as understanding. I am just starting to feel comfortable about advocating for myself this year (junior year/11th year), but am still working on it. It’s been harder to advocate for myself this year because the work is harder than ever, so I feel more worked up and frustrated. It doesn’t help that some of my teachers aren’t very understanding this year, so I feel there’s a gap of air between us.Okay…I know I should be more of an advocate for myself when my teachers are not understanding, but it’s very hard for me to verbalize things to my teachers, especially in the stressful school environment I’ve been in for quite some time (AND especially to teachers that aren’t understanding). I become very anxious when I have to talk to a teacher, and it’s a very emotional position for me. I prefer to email them rather than go in to talk to them, because…
1. it’s not in school when I’ll email them
2. I can process what I want to say better and
3. I’m MUCH better expressing myself over writing than verbally.
“Why are you lazy” not YOU Anna, and yet not lazy when it’s something that benefits you?
This is a great question, and one that also has a lot of reasons behind it… I can speak for everyone who has a processing disorder when I say we need more breaks than someone without a processing disorder (Hey, I’m not trying to say those of you who don’t have a processing disorder don’t need breaks. We all need lots of breaks!
But, it’s more overwhelming for someone vice versa). I’ve used this in the past but… 7 hours a day we are processing information, and it’s hard and complex things that we are “asked” to process. 3-4 (or more) hours after that, we have to work on homework based on the information that was processed for 7 hours straight to us…
So we have to go back and re-process what was being said in those 7 hours, and try to break those 7 hours down into just 3-4 hours of homework, and summarizing is not a strong suite. Are you stressed out just reading that? – I am! That was hard to write for me! Take 7 (hours in school) + 4(hour on homework or more) and times that by 7 (days a week) and you get 77(or more) hours a week spent on complex and hard information that needs to be processed. That’s just a week. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is equal to 168 hours a week. 77 hours is almost half of 168 hours a week. No kid, or no adult wants to spend that amount of time on something that is difficult for them.When there is something that is easy for me, and fun (like babysitting, field hockey, or photography…) that BENEFITS me I want to do my best at it. It’s fun, and I’m good at it! It’s EASY, and not a lot of things in life living with Auditory Processing Disorder as teenager are easy. That’s why if you pick a major you like in college, or a job you really enjoy, there is not a thought about being lazy because you LIKE it and you want to work at it. But if you don’t like the major you’re in, or you hate your job, you’re going to become lazy because it’s not what you like to do.This goes for everyone in the world, but it’s rare for someone with APDto say something is “easy” all the time, so when there is something easy and fun, it’s incredible!
I find it hard imagining my daughter in school all the way to grade 12 (struggles so much now) How do your parents/teachers help you to stay at school? I guess motivation wise – is what I’m asking?
I don’t blame her. It’s really hard, and I do get a lot of help from my parents, teachers, AND counselors. Does she have a counselor or teacher that she’s closer with than others? – I have a few teachers and a counselor I talk with more openly than I would with others in school. It has really helped me to have an adult to go to in the environment I struggle in if I’m feeling overwhelmed or out of place because they can literally see and understand what I must go through because they are there every day, too.
It’s great to have someone from home help, but having someone to help me in the environment I don’t like can be more real and more assuring because they are there, too.They all do a great job of motivating me by keeping things simple… When I say that, I mean to make things smaller and not BIG and overwhelming. For example… When I have a lot of homework I tend to freak out and look at the big picture. “I have to do two math lessons, because I didn’t finish the one from last night, plus the one that is due tomorrow.. I have to finish my social studies paper, and read and answer questions for English! Ahhhh!” That’s what usually happens.
I look at it was one BIG thing, and I don’t see it as a bunch of little things. My parents break it up for me, and that helps a lot. That is how I get through a night of homework.As for teachers and my counselor helping me, I usually freak out about how I have to finish a WHOLE year or a WHOLE semester, or a BUNCH of tests I have that week. Same as my parents, they will make things smaller for me, and set smaller goals for me. Again, looking at something as only one thing is WAY overwhelming for me. So instead of looking at a WHOLE year, they set little “goals” for me like getting through the 1st term of school and not to look beyond that point. Instead of looking at a WHOLE semester, they will help me by just focusing on just one week and getting through that.
Instead of looking at ALL the tests I have that week, just focus and study for one at a time. I have to keep things very small to get passed my anxiety, and it helps when the things I need to get done are in smaller chunks. I have to be re-directed into a smaller perspective a lot of times.Today, I dread going to school, and thinking how I am not even half way done with my school year yet, or that I have next year as well, but those are just thoughts, and I do have to learn how to control them and make them positive. Even for you as a parent it will help to focus on the smaller things your daughter has to finish, than the things far away. I probably said that easier than it is to do, but the bigger you make things, the harder they will be.
How has CAPD affected you socially as a teen? Do you find you are more of an introvert as a result? Do you avoid big crowds? Do you have a few good friends instead of many acquaintances? Do you like to leave the house to hang out with friends or do you prefer to stay at home on weekends/your free time?
APD has made me who I am, and my social life is one thing my APD has essentially taken over for me. APD is just one of my characteristic in my personality, and it very well takes up a lot of space in my personality. Only starting in my 8th year of school is when I really started piecing that together. This has always been hard for me to explain to other people how APD has affected me socially, so it may be long… I have lived in a small town setting my whole life.
The city is small enough that you can walk or ride your bike to the food store, ice-cream shop, restaurants, and the library. Our high school, and middle school is right by all of this, and our high school has off-campus lunch. The reason I’m telling you this is because everyone knows everyone and everything about each kid at my school. I don’t go to a school so big that I see a new person everyday… I can memorize WHEN I see people in the hallway. With that said, the rumors and information spreads fast at our school, and for me, it’s too fast so I always get lost in it. I don’t try to know all the rumors and everything… actually I try to avoid them. At my school, it seems the more you know about kids and the more willing you are to share with everyone (AKA— A good story teller, which I am not), the more popular you become.
Then there’s the competition on how athletic you are, but that’s second. I’m very athletic, but don’t have the quickness to keep up with the drama and I don’t have the “right words”. It really depends when I’m introvert… Overall, yes I am. When I’m with the few good friends I have, I’m very social, free-spirited, and I’ve been told to be pretty funny because I’m comfortable with them, and they’re comfortable with me. With acquaintances, I am not so comfortable with so it’s hard to find the words or the topics to talk about.
I don’t pay attention too much about what other kids in my school are doing, and that’s usually the strongest topic between acquaintances and a skill I don’t have.So to simply answer that, yes I am very introvert when it comes to unfamiliarity, which then of course is a difference I have then most. I do avoid big crowds because the big crowds are overwhelming and there’s a lot of drama usually, and I cannot follow the smallest piece of drama for my life, then people catch on to that, which results into me getting ignored by them.
The big crowds are not the nicest, healthy-minded, or understanding kids here at my school either… With that said, their personalities can lead to drama. I do have a few good friends I stick with, but with my luck I’ll get to “hangout” with them for a good 15 minutes at the end of lunch. If I have a class with them even it’s hard to “hangout” unless I sit by them (which I do find helpful if I am seated next to a close friend, because they help me out a lot!). There is not a lot of hangout time for me during or after school, so I am a lot of times very independent and again very introvert.
When I do get a social opportunity on the weekends, I’m “trained” to be excited and go out if I’m free which in most cases all kids are “trained” this way. I do get excited, but at the same time these types of situations are stressful depending how many people are involved. In my case, I’m usually the one asking my friends to hangout though, so I usually get to choose how many. But again, it’s a stressful position, and especially now because I am the only of my small friend group who can drive. I just like to relax, and stay away from the “school” environment as much as possible! – And hanging out with friends to me is part of the school experience.
My son has APD and is in Year 3. He copes quite well at school in familiar situations so we are very lucky. I notice it particularly in unknown situations such as dentist visits, instructions he may not have heard of.
He HATES to be different. He also has anxiety and feels ‘dumb’ which then affects his self-esteem. My question is, how do I tell him how different to other kids he actually is without freaking him out, making him feel worse etc?
Well first off, I have to say that APD is nothing that should freak anyone out. Everyone learns and understands things at different paces. Unfortunately, APD affects a lot of what we do, and really does show in those unfamiliar situations because well, we’re not used to processing the new information. I’m sure anyone with or without APD could say that they feel anxious/dump/awkward in an unfamiliar situation, because they don’t know what to do, or how to act!
The easy answer is to tell you to tell him what APD is. For me, my mom and dad explained it to me once basically and felt “dumb”. But the reason I felt that way is because I didn’t really understand what it was (or what they were explaining to me). I am just now understanding what APD is, and I am much more understanding about my situation. The more ways you can explain APD to your child, the easier it might be for him.
The more you explain it, the more familiar he will be. Right now he’s probably unfamiliar with it, and as you said he doesn’t do well in unfamiliar settings. Well, explaining to him what APD is is probably very unfamiliar to him right now. The more times he hears it, and understands the easier it will be. Just like going to a new school… The more days you go there, the easier it gets! (Lame example, I know.)
Also, it took me awhile to “feel comfortable in my own skin” and accept the fact I have APD because I wouldn’t allow myself to think of the positives that come out of it. Now, I can say that having APD allows me to communicate with kids very well (little vocabulary) and I love working with kids. I don’t have to be involved in any school gossip or drama because well, I can’t. Haha. You’d think that’s a bad thing, but it’s a TOTAL relief. It really depends on how he will approach it and handle it emotionally. It’s all up in your head, and only he can control that, but you as a parent have the ability to make APD familiar and comfortable for him.
Something I’ve always wondered is whether or not my son realizes he hears things differently than other people. He is 9 and just realizing how differently he struggles with schoolwork. I have always wondered when he was younger if he knew that he just didn’t understand as well as other kids.
I have to say, when I was younger, I did not really pay attention to what other people could hear, but I couldn’t. That was when I was 13 years old. Now, I pick it up every single moment (16 now), and that can be worse sometimes… Worse because it’s something I can pick out easily that I struggle with, and happens a lot which affects my self-esteem. “Do they know I don’t understand often?” But positively if I think, “Oh, I don’t understand so I should ask for a clarification so I do understand.” It has taken me a lot of time and thinking to realize how different I am from others, and how different others are from me.
Just like any kid… It will take time for them to figure out who they are. I’ve heard many people in my life say that it’s not till college/university when people really figure out who they are.
It can be frustrating as a kid not understanding who I was. I didn’t know I had APD until I was 13 years old. So before that, I knew I’d always be mocked or bullied, or not invited to things but I didn’t know why. All young kids want to know “why?” Think about it… If you told your kid “You can’t go to Jimmy’s Birthday party on Saturday” and not explain to them “why”, they are going to be frusterated, don’t you think? It’s the same things when kids don’t understand why a certain friend doesn’t invite them, or why they are placed in school as “un cool” even though they’re super nice and athletic.
It takes time to figure that stuff out. I’m still working on it and I’m 16. I want to know “why” all the time, but I don’t want to know “why” as much as I did when I was younger. As I grow, I learn not to worry about things as much as I did when I was younger.
Thanks to everyone who read my blogs, and a big shout out to the parents! It can be a tough job being a parent to a child that requires more needs than the average child, and we all love you for that ?
Let me know if there’s any more questions!