The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Auditory Processing Disorder

My son, Eric, was diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder or ADP; I find this name ironic because I would have described his problem as Attention Paying Disdain!

Even though his hearing is perfect, he misses the content, so if you tell him something in three sentences he hears it, but he might only “get” a few words from each sentence.

Or he may understand just one whole sentence. It is unlikely he will get all the information you are giving him. When I say, “Go to your room, put your toys away and then we can go to the park.” He may head straight to his room, grab a bucket and shovel, and head to the front door, ready for the swings. It is not his hearing or his ability to pay attention; it the way he comprehends what he hears.

Eric has always marched to his own drum. He wants to do what is required, but he may not do it the same way as everybody else. I always admired this as it represented his independence. Now I wonder if it was because he never figured out exactly what he was supposed to do. What I viewed as a sign of creative genius was merely his way of coping; trying to do what others were doing without understanding the instructions.

I have struggled with this for years. I have defended Eric’s behavior, felt guilty about my own parenting and tried in vain not to compare him to his older brother and sister who are both star students. It is not that he doesn’t pay attention. He has a bottomless attention span for his chosen activities. He can draw, build with Legos, and engage in solitary imaginary play for hours. But try to get his attention by calling his name and good luck.

I thought he suffered from “selective hearing.”

We had him assessed last year and were told he was “fine” and would outgrow many of the things that I considered concerns. It was only because a close friend insisted I go somewhere private that I got the answers I needed.

Watching him take his assessment test was an eye opener. The counselor was amazed at how many words he knew while I was in tears when I saw how much he did not know. He has huge holes in his comprehension, and hearing his sweet, little voice give wrong answer after wrong answer was heart breaking.

I have known for a while something was not quite right. It is a relief to have an actual diagnosis. Now he can finally get the help and support he needs. After a disastrous attempt at kindergarten, we pulled him out after six weeks. I was convinced it was mainly because of his immaturity, but now I see it as so much more. There was no way he could have comprehended or followed all of the instructions he was given.

Because he is obviously so bright, his inability to follow along was viewed as a behavior problem which made everything worse. He was not a bad kid, but he was being treated like one. The numerous trips to the principal’s office were leading him down “the troubled student" path.

I am fortunate that we caught this early and we are sure that this Fall he will finally be “ready” for kindergarten. We will start with speech therapy and go from there. There are tricks and skills we can use to help him get the information and learning skills he needs.

He may always learn differently, but now I can learn how to teach him.

By Cathy Burke


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i've been following your son's saga through your writing for a few years now. your tenacity in finding the help he needs is truly impressive. hang in there.
Good work, Cathy -- in writing and life. I'm particularly moved by your last line.
thanks for your post. i'm going on my third specialist appointment for my son - first a pediatric behavioral specialist, then a pediatric neurologist - this time it's with an auditory processing specialist, at the recommendation of the neurologist. your description of the way your son listens is similar to mine. my son is supposed to start kindgergarten this fall, so i'm hoping to get some answers at my next appointment.
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