Our Auditory Processing Disorder Story

“Wait, what?” “I need to process this, Mom.” “Are we in West California? East California? Oh! South Carolina!” 

This is a small glimpse into our daily lives with Auditory Processing Disorder. My youngest child, my daughter, has this diagnosis.

She also struggled with learning how to read, like my son (who has severe dyslexia), but for her it was different.

While my son (who does not have APD) speaks in clear, crisp sentences using HUGE vocabulary and talks for hours upon hours – my daughter does not. She instead gets words mixed-up and flip-flopped.

It reminds me a lot of one of my favorite children’s books, the BFG:

“Words,” he said, “is oh such a twitch-tickling problem to me all my life.” 

Even though we already had one child go through testing for a learning disability, our journey with our daughter was no easier.  We saw the signs, but they were just a little bit different.

Let me start by explaining that dyslexia and APD often are co-morid. In other words, there is a high rate of a child having BOTH. They are highly related, and there is a genetic factor. So, it’s honestly not shocking that they each have one. It’s nothing “we did” or did not do – it’s just genetics.

So, what did we noticed that was different? Okay, keep in mind that what I’m going to tell you is only ONE example of my two kids and should in no way be taken to mean “all kids with dyslexia/APD experience this.”

For us, our son was tested and did not have APD. Our daughter doesn’t “quite” fit on the dyslexia spectrum, but the doctor’s told us they can’t rule it completely out either (talk about being in limbo-land!) She does very clearly have moderate APD though.

My son’s early dyslexia signs were: 
– Letters meant absolutely nothing to him.
– He used gigantic vocabulary and spoke in crisp, clear English – no “baby” talk (even when he was a pre-schooler)
– He has no problem getting out what he wants to say, and he talks a LOT
– Written English is what causes him the most trouble – both in reading and writing (mostly reading as he will invent spelling to satisfy whatever he wants to say)
– He thrives on audiobooks – he devours them.
– Responded, but much more slowly, to reading interventions (he was diagnosed much later – mid-second grade)
– Thrives on being taught completely by auditory input. Falls apart if only taught via reading or written words.
– Needs (and receives) school accommodations
– Even though he can read, he hates to read (unless via audiobook).

My daughter’s early APD signs were: 
– Letters also threw her off – her pre-K teacher described it as “the letter sounds are going over her head.”
– She had a lot of “speech” issues that showed up early. Never enough to get speech help in public school, but enough that two private evals suggested help is needed
– Words would get mixed up easily – tomato for tornado, etc
– A frustration in listening – complaints of “not understanding” spoken language at times
– Responded much faster to reading interventions (started earlier in kindergarten)
– Falls apart if taught solely using auditory input – needs to SEE it.
– Need (and receives) school accommodations
– Now that she can read, she loves to read.

I’ve heard some people suggest these two disorders are “the same thing,” but living in my house I can tell you that for us, they are not. They are related, but not the same.

If you have a child who is struggling with reading, my best advice is to seek out a qualified educational psychologist to guide you through the process. Auditory Processing Disorder can only be diagnosed by an audiologist, but a qualified educational psychologist can guide you through the process.

Insurance note: None of our dyslexia testing was covered by our insurance at all. Interestingly, our insurance did cover our APD eval in full. Check with your provider.


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