“What does Mrs. Jones mean we will be bent tomorrow?” I thought to myself.
“I don’t get it?” I asked my friend.
“We are presenting tomorrow?” she responded, laughing as she walked away after the bell.
“Oh, wow…” I thought, shaking my head.
What is Auditory Processing Disorder?
Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) can be confusing to understand. The best way to explain it is this: our five senses are touching, smelling, hearing, seeing, and tasting. All of my five senses work just fine. APD does have the “auditory” in it, which has to do with hearing. The processing part is my brain. My brain and ears don’t work well together, and my brain doesn’t process all the gazillion things I hear correctly. It’s like if someone is half sleeping. They can hear fine, but their brain isn’t fully on. That’s what I deal with on a daily basis, but use strategies to be successful and get around this day to day battle.
It was several years before I was accurately diagnosed with APD. I was adopted so my biological history isn’t available. In fourth grade I took ADD medication and attended speech therapy classes. In sixth grade I had an Individual Education Program, but I didn’t understand why. It wasn’t until seventh grade that I was accurately diagnosed with APD.
You are your best self-advocate!
It took me practice asking for assistance, and now I can proudly announce that self-advocating is a huge achievement and tool. I now understand why advocating leads to success in life. All it took was a little push from a middle school teacher. At conferences my sophomore math teacher said to my mom, “Your daughter’s questions are helpful because I know she is asking questions the class isn’t.” We never thought this would come from a teacher’s mouth. I confidently can raise my hand and ask for help. I utilize the opportunity to go in for extra help or clarification. Teachers love talking about their subjects so much that they tend to speak too fast, so I try to repeat what they say to let them know what I processed. Other times, I flat out tell them that “I am still confused”.
I must consistently remind my teachers of the accommodations they have to provide for me under my 504 plan. “Please use your microphone,” “May I have a copy of the notes, please?” “I really need to sit in the front row,” “Remember, I take my tests in an isolated setting?”
At first, I was timid about reminding teachers. I felt like I was nagging my teachers, but eventually, I realized how relieved and excited they were when I approached them. Teachers have numerous things to do for their 100 plus students, and frankly, I will never be their number one priority. Once I do give them a friendly nudge, however, I am able to achieve greater academic success.
Find something you love to do, and excel at it
Another way that I have helped myself and others is by writing and sharing. One of my best friends who blogs, encouraged me to blog about my learning disability. I always knew I was an above average writer, and loved the idea of blogging about APD so I gave in and started blogging. I did not expect to get so many hits. Not only do I get people throughout America who stumble upon my blog, but I have people from all over the world who follow it. The link to my blog is apdwarrior17.blogspot.com, and many parents believe I am an APD warrior because I inspire and help them. I get responses saying, “You are such an inspiration!”. These comments give me a warm feeling because I am doing what I love — helping people. I should thank my readers because they are truly my inspiration. My readers made me realize by helping people understand the way I am wired helps me understand how wonderful I am despite my learning difficulty.
Kids worldwide are intrigued by my blog when their parents tell them about it. They often say that they want to be like me. One parent told me that his daughter printed out a blog of mine and would hold onto it and read it before bed. I am a role model for the kids, and parents as well. Parents who don’t know about disabilities usually have many worries of how awful and difficult it will be for their child. I am able show them the ropes and it is not so bad. There are tools to use to navigate around the difficult things.
Use your empathy to help others
My knowledge of the feelings a learning disability can give will go to Susquehanna University with me where I plan to major in Child Life. When I am older, I dream of helping children and their families cope with challenges of being hospitalized because of illness or a disability. My love and compassion for children who have challenges makes my heart beat loud as I want to do all I can to help.
These are all ways I help myself and others worldwide get to what we want to do with our countless skills. I hope my writings and actions help people understand APD and what other learning difficulties are like. There is good behind everyone despite a little day to day battle they may face. With methods for getting around my battle of APD I am able to accomplish things in life I strive to get to at the end of each day. My life experiences in managing my learning disability taught me many lessons that I will continue to share with others on their individual journeys.
My name is Anna, and I am a senior in high school. My early school years, including high school were an interesting journey in trying to puzzle together why I had such a hard time learning, but despite my challenge in learning I spend most of my time and energy doing things I dearly love. Combining my love for helping people, and another love I have, writing, I have been able to blog about my learning disability, Auditory Processing Disorder, and am blown away at the number of lives I have helped through blogging (apdwarrior17.blogspot.com). I tell myself that I have this utterly frustrating learning disability so I can educate, share, and lend a hand to people who may not understand Auditory Processing Disorder first-hand. Thank-you for taking the time to read my bio, and I hope you enjoy my story!