LD Expert Podcast

Episode 23: Progress Update – Treating Auditory Processing


    In this Episode

    This week’s podcast spotlight is Adalyn Smith. She first appeared on LD Expert Live to talk about what it’s like living with an auditory processing disorder (APD). 

    Since that episode, she started attending Stowell Learning Centers for auditory training and is giving us an update on her progress. 

    In this week's episode, you'll learn:

    • A student’s perspective on that she had an auditory processing disorder 
    • Real results of the auditory training programs in life and in school 
    • An example of the activities done in a training program

    Episode Highlight

    “The training has been incredible, definitely life changing…Training has taught me more about making mental images and repetition and association - all of those things which can be applied to testing, which are so amazing.” - Adalyn Smith



    Episode Transcript


    [00:00:03.010] - Jill Stowell

    Do you ever wonder if your child is just ignoring you when they don't hear what you say? For children and adults with Auditory Processing Disorder, missing information is not or not really hearing someone is a common occurrence. This is the LD Expert Podcast. I'm Jill Stowell, founder of Stowell Learning Centers and author of a brand new book hot off the press called Take the Stone Out of the Shoe: A Must Have Guide to Understanding, Supporting, and Correcting Dyslexia, Learning and Attention Challenges. Today we have one of our students, Adalyn Smith, with us to talk about her journey with APD and with auditory training. Adalyn is a very proactive advocate for people with APD and is a graduating senior getting ready to go off to college. So congratulations, Adalyn. She was also a previous guest on LD Expert YouTube broadcast and podcast. Adalyn, it's so great to see you and have you back with us.


    [00:01:15.820] - Adalyn Smith

    Thank you. It's good to be here. I'm honored.


    [00:01:19.070] - Jill Stowell

    Well, I told everyone when you were on before that we were going to have you come back and update.


    [00:01:25.130] - Adalyn Smith

    Here I am. Awesome.


    [00:01:27.890] - Jill Stowell

    So you really are an expert in APD, so tell us what it is and what it's like to live with it.


    [00:01:37.080] - Adalyn Smith

    Yeah, so Auditory Processing Disorder is kind of a huge umbrella if you think about it. It definitely has its pros and cons to live with. And what it is in a nutshell, is whenever I'm in a very loud or noisy environment, my brain can't filter out all that background noise and just have a one-on-one with someone I'm talking to. So that's kind of like the overall shell of the disorder. But living day to day, there's different experiences that I come across very often. More often than you think, such as in the classroom when I'm listening to a lecture or when I'm at home and my parents are doing the dishes and they're trying to talk to me. It doesn't work very well. And so we've had to find ways to accommodate that. But that's basically the gist of that.


    [00:02:29.090] - Jill Stowell

    So I think this is incredibly important for parents and teachers and students to hear because auditory issues are not obvious to others. But in our experience at the Learning Center, it's almost always a piece of the puzzle when students have learning or attention challenges. That issue of just not being able to get a clear or complete enough message when you're listening. And so of course, that impacts your response and your comprehension and all kinds of things.


    [00:03:06.280] - Adalyn Smith

    Most definitely, yeah.


    [00:03:08.570] - Jill Stowell

    So, Adalyn, how old were you when you or your parents realized that there was something going on?


    [00:03:17.030] - Adalyn Smith

    So I was eight years old, and I remember sitting in the middle of the classroom and just being confused, almost not like a bored confused, but like a zoned out because I was exhausted, kind of confused. And my parents would notice this when I would come home from school and they would ask me, Adalyn, what did you do in school today? And I couldn't tell them anything because I couldn't remember anything because I was trying so hard to focus. And they noticed it when I was in the car with a friend and my mom would be talking with them. And I kind of have this vague memory of me just trying so hard to keep up with the conversation, but not knowing the song lyrics going on in the background, not being able to keep up with the conversation, not noticing street signs, all those things that a normal six year old would because they're just like this curious little person. But I wasn't able to do that. And so they knew something was wrong, and that's when the testing process kind of started.


    [00:04:21.270] - Jill Stowell

    And that's interesting to hear you say that. And I think, again, it's a really important thing because it wasn't that you weren't interested or curious or you weren't trying, and it was exhausting, but you weren't getting all the information that you needed. What was that testing process like? Did it take a while to find out what was really going on, or do you remember what that was like?


    [00:04:52.390] - Adalyn Smith

    I remember a little bit. I've talked to my mom about this quite a bit, actually, in my growing up years, and kind of understanding what APD was for me. And I remember going to so many different doctors. It was like weekly events were the next doctor's appointment. And I was like, Another one? Oh, my gosh. But we just kept going to them and they did some tests and the lady said, no, you need to go to an audiologist. And so we went to an audiologist and they diagnosed me with APD. And then all of the solutions and answers started piling on top of each other.


    [00:05:31.150] - Jill Stowell

    And you said something, I think that was really important there. You said what APD was for you, because whether it's dyslexia or APD or some other kind of learning challenge, it looks different for each person, even if you have exactly the same diagnosis.


    [00:05:52.750] - Adalyn Smith

    Definitely, yeah. That's been interesting to see in myself as I've understood APD. But it looks different just because of my personality in the way that I am than from somebody else who has a different personality, which is interesting.


    [00:06:07.880] - Jill Stowell

    Right, well, I have a new book coming out. In fact, it's just been released this week called Take the Stone Out of the Shoe. And I'm going to read a little excerpt about auditory processing challenges. So I just want you to see if this feels similar to your experience. This is from chapter five. It's hard to get the message when you have a bad connection. Perhaps the best way to understand the ramifications of an auditory processing problem is to think about what it's like to be in an important conversation with a bad cell phone connection. You find yourself listening extremely hard and any extra noise around you becomes irritating and hard to block out because the signal is not clear. You missed part of what the speaker is saying and you find yourself saying “What did you say?” And struggling to fill in the gaps. You are not exactly sure what the speaker said, but you don't want to sound stupid or uninterested. So you make up what you think is an appropriate response. When that backfires, because you respond incorrectly or inappropriately, you have to explain about the bad connection and why you misinterpreted what they said.


    [00:07:33.670] - Jill Stowell

    It takes so much energy to keep up with this conversation that you find your attention drifting. You feel distracted and frustrated. An important conversation or not, you just want to get off the phone. Luckily for cellphone users, the way to a better connection is to hang up and try again. But for students with auditory processing challenges, this is life. Does that sound familiar?


    [00:08:03.970] - Adalyn Smith

    Every single part of that was definitely relatable.


    [00:08:09.010] - Jill Stowell

    And, you know, thankfully this can change. With targeted cognitive training, the weak underlying skills such as auditory processing can be developed. Part three of Take the Stone Out of the Shoe is all about the programs that we use to help students eliminate or permanently change their learning challenges. So, Adelyn, as I said, we had you on the show before you started your cognitive learning therapy at Stowell Learning Center and I would love for you to give us an update.


    [00:08:44.590] - Adalyn Smith

    Awesome. Of course, I would say the training has been incredible, definitely life changing. We'll start with school and academics first. So I study for tests way differently than I used to. I stress differently. I find myself not worrying as much about grades and about the pressure of tests and about memorizing every single term perfectly anymore. Training has taught me more about making mental images and repetition and association, all of those things which can be applied to testing, which is so amazing. I've used them so many times and I've learned from my personal life that it takes a layer of stress away from every single situation that you're in. It just allows you to be more yourself without worrying about am I going to be able to hear that? Oh, no. Am I going to be able to reason this out in really fast measures? Am I going to be able to be in the moment without thinking and having this panic attack if I can't hear anything or I can't process anything right now. And that alone has been incredible in itself and yeah, it's just been amazing.


    [00:10:09.550] - Jill Stowell

    You know, that is really interesting. The way you talked about it kind of removes a layer of stress. It's not just learning some techniques for how to picture the information or how to settle yourself. I mean, a lot of times people would think, oh, well, you just learned some breathing techniques and then that takes the stress off. But the thing is, a big piece of that stress layer that's going on is the fact that you're having to work so hard to get that information. So as you're able to get the information more quickly and automatically without even realizing that, some of that stress reduces. So I'm super excited to hear that.


    [00:11:00.540] - Adalyn Smith

    Yeah, thank you. It's been really good.


    [00:11:03.440] - Jill Stowell

    So as a part of the auditory training, you were doing some sound therapy, the listening program. What is it like to do that? What do you have to do? What's it been like for you?


    [00:11:17.460] - Adalyn Smith

    Yeah, definitely. So some technical things are: I do it twice a day for 15 minutes, once in the morning and once in the evening or afternoon. And for me, it helps my auditory system get ready for input, whether that's higher low pitches or a talk or a lecture, any of that is input and it's getting my brain ready for all of that, which is super, super interesting. I've noticed when I don't do my listening or when I forget to do my listening because life happens, right? Right. I noticed that high pitches will actually hurt my ears and then I'll actually have to cover my ears up and turn my face away because it hurts my ears or I won't be able to get all the information from a certain lecture I needed to or I'll be more exhausted that day. There's so many things that happen when I don't do my listening compared to when I do my listening. And the difference is drastic. When I do my listening, it makes my day go better. I retain more information for longer. There's like plentiful lists out there.


    [00:12:28.710] - Jill Stowell

    It's very interesting talking about the listening like that because for some people, well, first of all, listening to that kind of music that you find in the listening program, it is very healthy and nurturing to your system in general. So that's a great reason to listen. But then in addition, it is clearly really supporting your system. And you may find after some time, you may listen for several years and gradually you find your system just really balances out. And if you miss your listening, it doesn't make a huge difference. For some people, that's just a part of their day because it really supports their system. So that's really cool. And then what were some of the other programs that you did in the training?


    [00:13:33.870] - Jill Stowell

    Or some of the kinds of activities with the processing skills.


    [00:13:39.040] - Adalyn Smith

    Got you. One thing that I learned a lot about that I never ever thought I was going to be able to accomplish was recognizing patterns in math. For example, when we did training for months and months and months we had a sheet of like little chicks and there would be two rows of three, and then if there was one more on the bottom, I automatically knew that that number was six, I mean, seven. And then if there was double that on the bottom, I knew that that was eight. And it took me months to get this down and it took lots of repetition and lots of memorizing and being able to look at that within seconds and know, oh, that's six, that's seven, that's eight. And that was never possible for me before I started training, which it now is. And it's just cool because I used it today in school when I was on a math worksheet. It was like clockwork and it wasn't even harsh for me anymore, which was amazing.


    [00:14:40.270] - Jill Stowell

    That's great. Yeah, that automatic pattern recognition and processing speed. So you were doing the AMPS program and so it really works on that quick thinking and recognition memory.


    [00:14:57.020] - Adalyn Smith

    Yeah, definitely.


    [00:15:01.130] - Jill Stowell

    How has life changed for you? School or social life? How has it changed for you since our first interview, now that you've been doing the auditory and brain training?


    [00:15:16.370] - Adalyn Smith

    I would say there's so many things I could list. My life has changed. I would say that my confidence has improved. I know how much stimulus I can take in a week when I need to do my listening in a day. I know which activities are going to be difficult and not difficult for me to handle. I know how to advocate for myself even more. I mean, the list goes on, but I think the biggest thing was just the confidence building, the fact that I could show up and I could be myself and I could say, I have something called APD and this is what I need because of my training from the Stowell Center.


    [00:16:05.130] - Jill Stowell

    So you are headed off to college, hopefully just feeling really excited and great about that.


    [00:16:13.990] - Adalyn Smith

    Very much so, yes.


    [00:16:16.950] - Jill Stowell

    So what closing thoughts do you have for families or individuals with APD?


    [00:16:27.090] - Adalyn Smith

    I would say the same thing I said on the LD Expert Live, which was you are not alone and that so many other families like you and so many other children like yours are struggling, even though you might not know it, and there is so much help and so many resources out in this world, like the Stowell Center that will take you in a heartbeat to help you, because they want you to succeed, they don't want you to struggle. There's a light at the end of the tunnel. There's so much hope out there, I would say, to not give up and teach your children how to advocate for themselves, even if that's just starting really small and doing a role play, and then take it up another level to talk to the teachers and then start getting presentations in front of your class. That's how I started. And it's just those small, simple steps that get you to be comfortable even just talking about it in conversation throughout your day, but know that you're not alone and that there is a lot of help and that there's always a solution, and that you can work through so many of your learning challenges.


    [00:17:37.670] - Jill Stowell

    Well, you are just so inspiring. And I encourage people to follow Adalyn on Instagram. It is at Advocate, the number four APD, and she just really shares tools and information about APD for teens and parents and anybody who's got that in their life. So, Adalyn, thank you for the update. One of my very favorite things is hearing from students about the transformations they experience.


    [00:18:14.810] - Adalyn Smith

    Thank you for having me. I love it.


    [00:18:17.340] - Jill Stowell

    Well, thank you for jumping on almost your last day.


    [00:18:25.290] - Adalyn Smith

    We're so close.


    [00:18:28.470] - Jill Stowell

    So you will find more information about auditory training programs and the science behind them in part three of Take the Stone Out of the Shoe for a Limited Time. We have a special promotional price for the paperback on Amazon right now, so I want to encourage all of you listening to go to Amazon and get a copy. I would love it if you would leave a review and tell me what part you liked best. Thanks for listening. Bye.