Continue reading to learn about Auditory Processing Disorder and helpful tips…
I have always thought that there was something going on with our oldest son James (JJ). When he was two years old, I noticed how fearful he was of loud noises, particularly fireworks. I didn’t think much of it at first, what child isn’t afraid of loud noises? ESPECIALLY fireworks.
We figured that he was a toddler and that he would eventually outgrow the fear of loud noises. As years went on, I noticed that his fear wasn’t getting any better… if anything it was progressively getting worse.
His brother was born shortly after this revelation, and his brother had a very difficult first year and a half of his life. So, what happened? I unintentionally put my concerns of JJ on the back burner. As Jaxson got older and better, I began to notice the same fear of loud noises, heightened anxiety, and even tactile aversions from JJ.
I didn’t want him to feel that I’ve neglected his needs because we were so focused on keeping Jaxson thriving.
I was more concerned about his increased anxiety and sought out referrals through his Primary Care Physician. She expressed concerns about his anxiety as well and gave us a referral to a Neuropsychiatric doctor. After discussing his symptoms and history the doctor affirmed our concerns of anxiety and referred us to a play therapist.
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What is Play Therapy?
Play therapy is a method of psychotherapy that allows children to safely open up and express themselves through natural play. Unlike traditional play therapy that only has partial play, child centered play therapy focuses more on the child.
Child centered play therapy allows the child to open up safely and address their thoughts and emotions through play. With the help of play therapy the child can work through real-life emotions by playing with toys.
It’s actually really neat how they do it. Our son has been through about a few sessions with an awesome therapist. The way he does it is by letting JJ work through his emotions for 3 to 4 sessions and then we have a family session.
In the family session he lets us know what JJ has been saying through play therapy. It is really enlightening because it lets us know how he is feeling and how he is coping with my husband’s frequent TADs, coping with Jaxson’s needs, school life, etc.
Sensory Processing Disorder Causing Anxiety
With the help of our Play Therapist, we found that his anxiety is awesome stemming from Sensory Processing Disorder – which I highly suspected. My gut was telling me he was suffering from Sensory Processing Disorder, more so auditory.
Anxiety and Sensory Processing Disorder are definitely interconnected. Children who don’t have Sensory Processing Disorder can process everything through their senses without complications.
Children with Sensory Processing Disorder have a tough time with light, sound, textures, and more. They don’t process things like typical children. Those who are oversensitive can become overly anxious from trying to process these light, sound, textures, etc.
For example, JJ has a rough time processing noise (auditory processing disorder). Majority of the time he has a rough time with loud noises: fireworks, dog barking, etc. He is also afraid of the dark and if he hears any noise (a sigh or cough), it will put him in overdrive.
Due to having a hard time processing dog barks, he has a fear of dogs. He covers his ears and hides when he sees a dog – small or large. Doesn’t matter the size.
How Does Occupational Therapy Help?
His Play Therapist felt that most of his anxiety was stemming from Sensory Processing Disorder. That’s where an Occupational Therapist comes in! How can a Pediatric Occupational Therapist help a child with Sensory Disorder?
An Occupational Therapist can help a child with Sensory Processing Disorder by any one of these activities:
- Finger painting
- Yoga, or stretching
- Deep pressure
The type of activity they’ll integrate will depend on whether your child is sensory seeking, sensory under-responsive, or sensory high-responsive. My youngest child is definitely sensory seeking, he loves crashing, swinging, jumping, etc.
My oldest on the other hand is sensory high-responsive, he can be found to be way too “intense” or “noxious.”
Occupational Therapists can help children with Sensory needs by providing the parents and child coping skills! This will allow the family, particularly the child, to succeed in the world!
Related: Coping Skills for Anxious Children
What is Auditory Processing Disorder?
According to ADDitude,
[Auditory Processing Disorder] is a condition that impacts the brain’s ability to filter and interpret sounds. People with APD can hear, but have a hard time receiving, organizing, and processing auditory information.
Symptoms of Auditory Sensory Disorder:
- Trouble with paying attention
- Trouble with remembering information
- Poor listening skills
- Behavior problems
- Difficulties with reading, spelling, comprehension, and vocabulary
This is TOTALLY my child. I feel like I have to repeat myself a MILLION times a day. Have you seen that meme circulating with the mom asking their child nicely (three times) to put their shoes on for school? And then she explodes by the fourth time?
Story of my life with this child but imagine that number being doubled. Yes, doubled.
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Ways to manage APD:
- Noise cancelling headphones – he only uses it when it’s extremely loud, he usually just covers his ears with his hands.
- Play music – who doesn’t love music!
- Keep environment quiet – I understand this is difficult and if you can’t, the headphones work wonders.
I understand the frustrations (I’ve been there!) and meltdowns, but there are ways to help your child manage his or her APD.
Life with Auditory Processing Disorder
Auditory Sensory Processing Disorder definitely has it’s moments. I use to find myself more impatient and less forgiving when it came to my older son’s behavior. The doctor confirmed and shone a light onto his problems with APD.
Not saying it’s all sunshine and rainbows now, I still have my impatient moments and I often lose my shit – what mother doesn’t? But I try to remember what it’s like for him with noises by putting myself in his shoes.
I’m glad that I sought out answers with his behavior, I can’t imagine how frustrated he was all these years. He is so happy when he’s with his Occupational and Play Therapist, they are really helping him cope.
My Final Thoughts
Life as a parent to a child with Anxiety, Auditory Processing Disorder, and a high possibility of ADHD, is definitely tough. Add in a little brother with Sensory Processing Disorder and Rare Genetic Disorder?
Definitely not a walk in the park!
There are definitely a lot of curve balls thrown our way but I would not have it any other way. I can’t image a life without these two rambunctious boys!
Are you a parent to a SPD or APD child? What are your coping strategies? I’d love to learn other methods.