Compensation essentially refers to an understanding of the fact that your child's hearing is different and therefore you need to make adjustments. This is not just a way to say you're giving up! When you give directions, keep them clear and simple, and speak directly to your child. You should try to speak slightly slower so that your child has time to process the input and understand you. The key is to let your child hear, think, and respond at a pace that works for him.

Gabriel's treatment started with direct therapy. We used a speech therapist. She was able to work with Gabriel's articulation problems and his phonemic awareness skills. He had fallen behind in learning to read because of his weaker listening skills. We worked for three years with a speech therapist, used software, and kept working on phonics and listening skills.

There were several things we were able to do to assist Gabriel to stretch his skills. First, I would read to him every night. When we started, I was able to read only a paragraph or two before he lost interest or fell asleep. Now he is attentive and comprehends the content successfully when I read an entire chapter in a large book. This took time. At one point, we realized that if he had seen the movie he was better able to understand the book and enjoy it. Redwall was wonderful. We also work hard on sight words, since phonics is not one of his strengths. Homeschooling allows your APD child the much-needed practice with phonics skills but at his pace.

The future is bright for your APD child. Therapy, development of stronger skills, and determination will help your child be successful. As he grows, you may be able to use technology to assist his ability to listen in public. Assistive listening devices similar to what is used by a hard-of-hearing person are being used to help people with APD. Your child will be able to dream big and work hard to get there. We as parents need to work hard now to open as many opportunities as possible for our children in the future.

APD is a processing disorder that affects your child's ability to listen. Think of it like this: your child's brain is hard of hearing. You can help by adjusting your environment for learning, choosing wise therapy options, and making wise compensations. Persistence will pay off, and your child will be able to control and guide his own APD as he matures. Your homeschooling may take a different path because of APD, but the journey will be just as wonderful.

The 5 Types of APD

1. Auditory Decoding Deficit—This is the classic APD type. A child with this will act like he has a hearing loss although the normal hearing tests show satisfactory hearing. Problems occur with background noise, rapid speech, and telling the difference between sounds.

2. Auditory Integration Deficit—This type is where the brain is not working as a whole. The biggest problems will be seen when dealing with reading/reading aloud and taking notes. They have problems listening and understanding fast enough to write out the important words for note-taking or comprehension.

3. Auditory Associative Deficit—This is closely related to a receptive language disorder, simply put, "a black-and-white thinker to an extreme." You say, "I'm beat," and this child would think you are injured rather than tired. This is a listening comprehension problem.

4. Auditory Output-Organization Deficit—This is closely related to an expressive language disorder. The words do not form correctly or in the right order when the child speaks. There may also be some speech problems with this type.

5. Prosodic Deficit—This is a problem with speech volume, intonations, and level of emotional intensity. Think Ben Stein: his intonation is oddly monotonous. This does go both ways; your child may not be able to understand other people's tones correctly and over- or under-react.

Heather Laurie is a happy wife and homeschooling mom to five wonderful children. Heather and her children have a genetic disorder that causes a variety of medical and learning disabilities. Through their experiences God has uniquely trained Heather and her husband Chris to minister and encourage others who are walking the road of special needs learning. She can be found at her site: Special Needs Homeschooling, The Company Porch Special Words for Special Needs, or http://homeschoolblogger.com/gfcfmomofmany/.  

Copyright 2010. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine®, Summer 2010. Used with permission.

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