While therapies can help improve auditory processing disorder, they do take time. In the process, it is good to employ accommodations to makes things easier for the individual with APD.
Accommodations at home:
- Stand closer: The further away you are talking, the more possibility of echoing and sound interference. For example, shouting a request from another room is unlikely to be understood properly. It’s best to be standing right in front of the individual when talking.
- Obtain eye contact: To make sure the person is focused on what you are saying, obtain eye contact. This can simply be a light touch to the shoulder so the person turns and looks at you.
- Talk slower: Slowing the speech gives extra time to process each word.
- Use simpler sentences: The more you say, the more processing is required. Try using simpler sentences. For example, instead of “Could you take out the garbage because it’s overflowing and starting to smell,” say “Please take out the garbage.”
- Rephrase if necessary: If the first attempt does not work, do not simply repeat what you already said. Try saying it in a different way. For example, “The garbage needs to go out.”
- Reduce background noise: Competing noises are a big issue for individuals with APD. Whenever possible eliminate noise by moving to another room, shutting doors or windows or asking others to be quieter.
- Have the person repeat back: If you are giving instructions, it is helpful to ask the person to tell you what they understood. This is a life skill for this with APD which they should use on their own to clarify they have heard properly.
- Think before criticizing: When a person with APD misunderstands, they usually don’t realize they have misinterpreted what was said. Assume first they misunderstood before assuming they are simply not going along with what you said.
- Create quiet space for homework: Auditory distractions are often a huge issue for children with APD. It’s a good idea to create a quiet corner in a separate room where homework can be done with the least amount of distractions.
Accommodations at school:
Communication tools recommended for the home can also be effective in helping an individual in a school environment:
- Stand closer
- Obtain eye contact
- Talk slower
- Rephrase as necessary
- Have the person repeat back
- Think before criticizing
But school creates a unique environment where other accommodations will also be required:
- Preferential seating: Seating the child near the front of the class often makes it easier to hear the teacher. Make sure the child is away from the classroom door where outside noises are a big distraction. Also try to seat the child away from air conditioning units.
- Seat next to helpful students: Since a child with APD often does not understand verbal directions, helpful students may be a good way to keep the child on task.
- Reduce background noise: This can be a tricky accommodation, especially in a classroom of 30+ children who are dropping pencils, whispering or crinkling paper. Often this accommodation means moving the child to a resource room in order to provide a quieter environment. Use of noise cancelling headphones or ear plugs can also help reduce the background noise.
- Consider the acoustics: Classrooms with hard surfaces will amplify all noises which create a lot of distractions for the child with APD. Carpet or rugs can help reduce the echo effect. Artwork or other decorations of the walls can also help reduce the echoing of classroom noises. The Classroom Resources Coalition provides resources for optimizing acoustics in classrooms.
- FM System: Consider getting an FM system to help amplify the teacher’s voice will muting the background noises. We can provide a variety of FM systems that are very effective for classroom use.
- Simplify instructions: A child with APD often has difficulty with multi-step instructions. It is best to provide one step at a time or offer a visual tool to help track the steps to be completed. When a child with APD does not follow instructions, assume first the child did not understand rather than the child is acting out.
- Provide written instructions: For children who can written, a written list of instructions can be a valuable way to keep them on track.
- Learn clarification techniques: The individual with APD should learn to verify they have understood correct. Simply saying, “I just want to be certain I understood you correctly…” and then repeat back what they understood. For children it is helpful to role play this skill so they can practice it.
- Use visual teaching method: Whenever possible, use visual props to help illustrate lecture material. Children with APD tend to be stronger visual-spatial learners and visual input helps keep them engaged in information that is delivered verbally.