Saturday, June 16, 2012

Auditory Processing Disorder

A while back during speech therapy for Eli, his therapist (an SLP) informed me she believed Eli should be tested for Auditory Processing Disorder (APD).  We had talked about this before, but she is not the type to just jump into these type of suggestions unless she is sure.  So we waited for quite a while.  The week prior to her making the suggestion she had gone to some updated training on the very subject.  While there her mind kept going back to Eli.  He displays all the symptoms.  Plus apparently kids who have injuries to their brain where they lack oxygen are at risk for this.  It can mimic ADHD, but is NOT the same.  The problem with getting tested is there really are not a lot of qualified people to conduct the testing (at least not local).  1) Only a qualified audiologist can perform the test.  2) They must be a certain age to test for it.  (Eli's not old enough yet since one place is 7 and another place is 8 and he will only be 6 in a month.)  3) There are only certain places technically qualified to test for it.  Surprisingly, the one place people would think is qualified, it was recommended NOT to go there by both the school district and his SLP.  4) The test cost over $1,000 just for the test and they do NOT bill the insurance.  I don't really want to go through that.  5) We wouldn't be able to do the therapies through them because they are too far away, plus again they do NOT bill the insurance.

Personally I don't need a diagnosis just to have a diagnosis.  I don't believe getting an "official diagnosis" will change our lives.  He will still be in speech.  He will still be on an IEP.  And this is NOT something that will require surgery like the subclavian steal syndrome.  One of the great things about his teachers is that they completely agree that he has this.  I actually asked the SLP and his teachers at school about one of the things that is suggested for kids with APD.  It's basically an amplification system (is that the technical name?) that the teacher basically speaks into one piece which goes into an earpiece the student wears.  You can have one student, multiple students at the same time, or an entire classroom set up.  And he can have this if we think he needs it.  His teachers (including his SLP at school) also mentioned that at some point we will need to focus on strategies to help Eli cope once he is not able to improve.  They aren't giving up, but it may be a possiblity down the road.  (Can I just tell you how AWESOME Eli's IEP team the last two years has been.  I'm seriously going to miss them.)  So really getting a diagnosis is not really necessary. 

After doing some researching on the subject of APD, I discovered that some people who have APD use a combination of ASL and verbal speaking to communicate.  Because people with APD struggle with verbal memory, the visual "stimulation" that ASL provides helps them remember what is said.  I started to try it with Eli.  And it works.  They actually use it in school with him as well.  So I can obviously see it's not in my head.  Luckily for me a very dear friend wants to eventually help families like me who really need to learn ASL.  She has been in school learning ASL for a while.  It also helps that her daughter is hearing impaired.  I am ever so grateful to my friend for helping me learn.  And am actually thankful I get to be her "guinea pig" as she goes on her path to realize her goal.

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