It took years for Rosie O'Donnell to get both an accurate diagnosis and an effective treatment for her son's auditory processing disorder (APD). Her experiences inspired the new book, "The Sound of Hope," which aims to raise awareness about this condition that often coexists with ADD/ADHD. And it has, at least with me.
by Kay Marner
Auditory processing disorder (APD) has been all over the news these days, thanks in part to Rosie O’Donnell's revelation that her 10-year-old son, Blake, is living with the condition, which affects the brain's ability to distinguish differences in sounds. Rosie’s years-long journey toward getting an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment for Blake’s APD inspired the new book The Sound of Hope: Recognizing, Coping with, and Treating Your Child’s Auditory Processing Disorder (by speech and language pathologist Lois Kam Heymann, foreward by Rosie O’Donnell).
When Rosie realized that the work auditory therapist Kam Heyman was doing with Blake was literally “saving” him, she knew she had to spread the word, both about the existence of the little-known disorder and the importance of early diagnosis and treatment.
Since experts believe that half of children and adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) are also living with APD, The Sound of Hope and its subject matter are of particular interest to those of us in the ADD/ADHD and learning disabilities (LD) community. My copy arrived in the mail today, and I’m dying to read it!
While waiting for the book, I read an article about it, and watched a couple of video clips of Rosie talking about Blake and his treatment for APD (Click here to watch Rosie describing her son's APD and how therapy helped -- don’t you just love it the way Rosie calls him Blakey?), so I’ve learned a little about the disorder, and with that little bit of knowledge, I began to recognize the overlap between ADD/ADHD and APD in my daughter, Natalie. It’s clear to me that something troublesome is going on between Nat’s ears and her brain’s reaction to what comes through them. Whether that “something” is a component of ADD/ADHD, or is actually APD, remains, for now, a mystery -- one I hope to solve soon. In the meantime, here are a few examples of that “something”:
As I put these and other clues together, I began wonder -- make that worry -- does Natalie have APD? Has she been going without important treatment? In my mind, I replayed Rosie, in the video, saying, “What would have happened if we hadn’t caught it, and treated it? He would have been lost.” I began to catastrophize the situation.
Then, I realized I needed to slow down. I reminded myself that Natalie is, and has been, receiving the best services available in our area -- speech therapy, occupational therapy, special education services, evaluation and therapy with a psychologist, treatment by a child psychiatrist -- and I know that, just as ADD/ADHD overlaps with APD, aspects of their treatment overlap, too. I halted my overwhelming Internet searching, refocused and limited my quest for APD info on reading The Sound of Hope, and made a conscious choice to put my bad-mom-why-didn’t-you-get-your-kid-the-help-that-she-needs guilt on (temporary) hold.
I’ll take a (long) list of questions to our next appointment with Nat’s psychologist. Should Natalie be tested for APD? If she has it, why didn’t someone identify it before now? She’s nearly 10 -- is it already too late to help her? Who would test and treat her? What would treatment and school accommodations look like? How much would treatment cost? My gut tells me that the answers will leave me reassured, not shattered.
If Rosie’s goal is to raise APD awareness, she’s already succeeded, at least with me.
Is your child diagnosed with APD? If so, how long did the process take and what advice do you have? For others like me, who are still unsure, check back for updates --I'll be here to share what I learn.