Anyone who has a child with Auditory Processing Disorder (and I dare say a child with ADHD or a host of other diagnoses) will understand their child’s huge heart and their desire to be good. However, these children still struggle with the same social issues over and over again. This leaves them feeling defeated.
Imagine yourself in place of the child that you know or love who has APD. You are at home and your mom calls for you to come downstairs. You obey that command quickly and run into the kitchen to see what she needs to say to you. She says, “Go get your ball clothes out of your bag, put them in the wash because we have to
leave for your game in an hour, and then I need you to go pack your dinner. Oh and don’t forget to get your water bottle.”
You leave that conversation feeling pretty confident in your ability to accomplish those tasks. None of them are difficult to do, so you turn your attention to the first one. You pass your sister as you go get your ball clothes out of the bag. She’s trying to reach a balloon that’s floated to the ceiling, so you stop to help her. Then you hear your mom saying “don’t forget to pack the chips too!” Just like that, you’ve forgotten the whole list of things you were supposed to do and your mom is upset at your for the umpteenth time today. You tried. You really did. You didn’t mean to forget. You didn’t mean to not do each of those tasks.
So let’s explore what mom could have done better.
First of all, checklists are the friends of a child with APD.
Don’t be afraid to write everything down that the child needs to do. Not only does it encourage independence and responsibility, but it also helps them quickly recall the things that they need to remember. In this way, you are setting them up for success.
You’re helping to take away the fear of messing up.
That’s what we want to do for our kids anyway. We should be the safe place where they can mess up and still come to us knowing that it’s okay. Relationships are first, so we don’t want to constantly make them feel as though they can do nothing right.
Second of all, give one direction at a time.
In our previous scenario, Mom gave too many directions and then kept adding more to the child. I’m the queen at doing this. I’ll walk by a toy and tell them to pick it up. Then I’ll look on the stairs and see something else of theirs that needs to be picked up. And so the story continues to go. Before my kids know it, I’ve given them well over 10 instructions that have done nothing but left all 3 of us frustrated at each other. I’m a work-in-progress with this. However, giving one direction at a time will enhance the possibility that the child will remember and follow through the instructions you’ve given.
When the child has finished the first direction, have them return to you with a “status report” and then to receive what the next job is that needs to be done.
No child likes to feel like they’re a mess up all of the time. No parent likes to hear their child say “I try so hard, but I can’t do anything right. I’m a dummy.”
As parents, we’re in this together with our child. Let’s set them up for success and be there to catch them when they fall.