March 23rd, 2012 | Posted in Auditory Processing Disorder

For four of our five senses, we have a variety of ways to “turn them off” – closing our eyes to block too much light, covering our noses to block an unpleasant smell, avoiding foods we don’t like the taste of, and selecting clothes that don’t make us itchy.  But for our ears, turning-off sounds is not as easy.  There are always shifting overlaps of conversations, music and natural sounds that we encounter throughout the day.  For adults, the constant simulation of sounds can be annoying, overtaxing and exhausting at times.  For children, it can be simply overwhelming.  Children with APD lack the skills and experiences necessary to actively seek clarity and quiet, eliminate conflicting sound sources or moving to a less chaotic auditory situation.

So how can we create a better listening environment for kids with APD?

girl readingThere are some simple things you can do to your home to make it a better place to listen.

  1. Close windows and doors during reading and word play time.
  2. Make an inventory of where sounds are coming from in each room of your house and try to eliminate or reduce these sounds. Lubricate doors and windows that squeak, replace fluorescent bulb that tends to hum and buzz with incandescent lights, use sound deadeners for the bottom of your chairs and tables.
  3. Soften hard, sound-reflective surfaces like tile or linoleum floors, brick walls and banks of windows by installing carpets, drapes, self-adhesive corkboards and acoustic tiles.

When going out like in a restaurant or the mall, you have very little control with sounds, but you can help APD kids manage by considering the acoustics of the space and what effect sound may have on your child.

  1. Take note of places that you’ve been to that appear to frustrate your child.  You can either going somewhere else next time, or try to prepare your child for the experience in advance.  Make sure to pay attention to their needs while you are there.
  2. Take a trip with your child to give them a preview of what a place is like and what they can expect when you dine there.
  3. Choose the quieter, less crowded sections of a restaurant whenever possible and ask for a table that’s not located near anything loud.
  4. Let your child participate in choosing the restaurant. They may want to try a new place even if the environment presents greater listening challenges. The fact that they had a say will incline them to try harder to enjoy themselves.

As noise is reduced, attention returns. It’s amazing what a little quiet can do for a child.  It helps them listen and communicate better, creating a more positive experiences for them.

Photo credit: Photostock/FreeDigitalPhoto

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