Auditory Processing Disorder & Rosie O’Donnell’s Son

Tara Pope-Parker in the New York Times has a wonderful piece on Rosie O’Donnell’s son Blake’s struggle with auditory processing disorder. Boy, could I relate to what she was saying, especially his description of the zoo visit (although I have to say, there’s an upside to having a child whose most comfortable form of expression is kinesthetic–it makes for VERY engaging and creative oral presentations and conversations!).

As I said in my comment, there are many different types of auditory processing disorder, some of which have been identified with certain areas of the brain. Terri James Bellis’ book When the Brain Can’t Hear was invaluable in helping me understand the differences and why my one friend’s son found the Fast ForWord sample on the internet challenging while my son didn’t have any trouble with it whatsoever, even though both had auditory processing issues. To make matters more confusing, you can have a word retrieval and auditory memory deficit that causes you to express yourself with the wrong word at times even though you can actually hear the difference between similar sounding words. I remember when my son was 7 and said, “Mom, your blood sound travels through your veins” while running his index finger down his calf. It took me a good 10 minutes to get that he meant “blood STREAM.”

The relationship between language processing issues and auditory processing issues is a complex one. Then too, there’s the curious relationship between vestibular (spinning, swinging, movement) input that travels from receptors in the inner ear to the brain for processing, and speech. Why is it so often easier to elicit speech in kids with autism and/or sensory processing disorder when they’re on a swing? It’s a fascinating topic, perhaps one that the Times will explore at a later date.

How has sensory processing based auditory issues (sensitivities and difficulty blocking background noise) affected your child? Does he or she have other auditory processing issues as well? Language processing issues that seem to be related?

Have you used The Listening Program or Therapeutic Listening or FastForWord? Did it work for your child?



Filed under auditory processing disorders, FastForWord, language processing disorders, learning differences, sensory integration dysfunction, sensory processing disorder, SPD and auditory, The Listening Program, Therapeutic Listening, Uncategorized

4 responses to “Auditory Processing Disorder & Rosie O’Donnell’s Son

  1. Thank you for reposting this article — I hadn’t seen it.

    My son does have auditory processing issues, but mostly with word discrimination. He often misinterprets sounds and it causes a great deal of confusion for reading and spelling. He also has challenges deciding ‘what’ to listen to, and spends a great deal of time and energy in the classroom trying to ignore sounds.

    Thanks for sharing,

    • Background noise was a huge issue for my son until he did the Therapeutic Listening program, administered by his OT (my coauthor, Lindsey Biel). The teachers at his preK said they definitely noticed a big difference in his ability to focus after he did the program. Frankly, the next big help for him was moving to the midwest where it is sooooo quiet! He’ll tell you that when I walked him to school in NYC we could not have a conversation, it was so noisy, but now we can hear ourselves breathe as we walk. Heaven! For him, the biggest challenges are these specialty classes where the kids are doing some self-directed learning, like computer class–sometimes, several are talking at once. You might talk to your son about which classes, or times during the day, the background noise is most distracting. There might be a way to lessen it if the teacher’s open to it, or accommodate for it.
      The word discrimination issue when it comes to hearing language would not be sensory, but processing related. It’s so interesting, these overlaps. I do wonder how often kids have one or the other versus both, like it seems our boys have.

  2. Just heard about APD this morning,I have a daughter with this problem, she will be 26 in one week when she was little would not speak much when she did it was mainly a point and a grunt, she didn’t make a full sentence until she was about 10. When she speaks today some time it will be right the next time she will put to many words in the sentence, lets say, she still has trouble expressing herself. when she was young and we could not understand her she would get mad and go to her room, today she still gets upset, and she really doesn’t want to be corrected, makes her feel stupid, once she learns some thing she’s got it and functions quit well. I always correct her when she says it wrong I think that is the only way she will get in right, We would like to do some thing for her but don’t know if she would be willing.
    Do you have any suggestions?

    • Well, there are two issues–one being what she can do to help herself and the other being how much do you want to try to “fix” her given that she’s her own person? I do know that these listening programs that aren’t too crazy expensive (as Tomatis is) are designed to be used by children or adults, and you could talk to the person who would help administer it about what types of benefits you’d see. The old idea that you can’t retrain a brain after age 7 has been proven false, so that’s good news for everyone!
      As for whether to help her hear what she’s saying wrong, I guess if it were me, I’d have a conversation about her struggles, apologize if you inadvertently hurt her feelings by correcting her, and offer her what you know. I know for many people, learning that the problem they’ve wrestled with all their lives has a name and can be treated can be very liberating so I think it’s worth having the conversation. But then, you know, if she’s not ready to talk further with you, I guess you let it go.
      The programs again are and I am more impressed by the extra layers of the latter one, but I can vouch for the former one being very helpful for my own son. From what I hear, OTs and others often prefer one over the other. Probably the deciding factor is if there’s a trained provider nearby which you can learn about on their sites.

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