What is the connection between Auditory Processing Disorder and Professional Organising?
As a Professional Organiser working with ADHD clients, you may have noticed that some of your clients, or actually quite a lot of your clients, seem to not hear you or misunderstand you more than they should, or not hear parts of what you say. They may ask you to repeat what you have said to them, more often than you think is “normal” to do so. Does this puzzle you? Do you suspect that there is more going on beneath the surface?
Your client may be struggling with a condition that is hidden, called APD or Audiory Processing Disorder.
More than one of my children has APD. I have done extensive research over the years to understand more about this condition and how to manage it. Here is some information that I have learned about Auditory Processing Disorder and most importantly some easy to implement tools to manage it.
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It is vital that you create your Professional Organiser business to support this hidden condition in your clients. You will thus avoid many potential pitfalls. Your clients may not even know that they have this condition. I only realised that I have APD around 2 years ago. If there are any misunderstandings, guess who your client will blame? They won’t blame themselves, they will blame you!!
Here are a few examples
- You agree with your client to meet up on a certain day and time. However, you only said it orally and your client “heard” you say a different day/time, and didn’t show up for her session. She is convinced that you are wrong. You have now lost payment for one session…and time as well.
- Your client is not so delighted with her newly decluttered and organised home. Although you are! You remember what a state it was in only a few weeks ago. She can’t remember the mess at all, and is wondering why she even called you in the first place…
- You gave your client homework. You only related it orally, and she has forgotten all about it until you show up on her doorstep…sigh…She feels horrible about herself…and you spend half the session reassuring her that she is OK and calming her down because she has reacted badly to her failure…what a waste of time and effort and most importantly emotions…
- Your client misunderstood an idea that you shared with her. You don’t understand how that happened because you thought you said it in a really clear way.
All these stories happened to me and my clients. I was confused. I noticed a pattern among my clients. I knew I was “reading a book” but I didn’t know the language. I did extensive research and slowly but surely turned around my Professional Organiser business. Now ALL my methods, contracts and systems support my clients who have ADHD and APD.
The only problem is that I have APD, so my own APD often comes in the way…sigh…such is life…
The 3 Most Common Processing Disorders
There are three main processing disorders, auditory processing, visual processing, and sensory processing disorders. These are all common in those who have ADHD. These are conditions where the brain has difficulty receiving information that enters via one or more of the 5 senses, and has difficulty processing and understanding the information.
ADHD rarely occurs on its own. If your client has ADHD there is a strong probability that they may be suffering from one or more of the above processing disorders. It is NOT your place to tell your client that you think they have APD… If in the rare case they ask you about it, then please refer them to this blog. It IS in your realm to gently support your client with structures and methods that will directly support your client who may be suffering from APD. The tools benefit all your clients, those that have APD and those that do not.
What is APD?
What Is APD?
Researchers still do not understand the process fully. They have found that APD related problems are connected it to the central nervous system’s ability to process auditory information.
Your client’s hearing may be excellent. The quality of hearing has nothing to do with APD. The challenge with APD is the difficulty in being able to turn sounds of language into words. Those with APD often suffer from comorbid conditions such as ADHD. Your client with APD is not deaf or hard of hearing.
If your client has APD please be aware they are probably working much harder than neurotypical adults, day in and day out, to understand the information that is being given to them. They may tire more easily and get more frustrated.
Your client is not intentionally misunderstanding or twisting around what you have said. They often genuinely have misheard/forgotten/not understood what was said.
There is hope. With the right tools your client can live a successful life, just like their neurotypical peers. All they need is you, their mum, empowering them with the tools that they need to manage this condition. It is far easier than you think.
Common Signs of APD
- Your client finds it hard to focus on your session when there are other people in the room or moving about on the same floor.
- Has difficulty remembering your spoken instructions
- Has trouble focusing
- Repeatedly doesn’t hear one part of what you have said, typically the first or last part of the sentence
- Hears the first and last part, of what was said, but doesn’t hear the middle part.
How to Treat APD
APD does not go away. When managed properly, the symptoms will lessen, but the core impairment is still present. I repeat, when managed properly the symptoms will lesson. How do I know this? I have seen this happening with my ADHD children who have APD. Here are some of the tools that I have used successfully with my children to support them and empower them.
I still use these tools every day with my ADHD children.
- Simplify your language with your client. Give over information in short sentences.
- Avoid multi-step directions.
- Teach your client how to self-sooth then they get frustrated
- If you give homework, back it up with a text/email or worksheet.
- Look at the client when you are speaking to them.
- Those with APD are often visual learners. Giving over information in visual format is vital.
- Teach your client how to keep their environment organised and uncluttered. That’s an obvious one! A cluttered environment makes it much harder for your client to focus and to listen and process what is being said.
- If necessary, teach your client how advocate for themselves when they need information to be clarified. Don’t expect that they know how to do this on their own.
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Get in touch with me and find out how you can upgrade your skills and empower yourself and your ADHD client. It really is easy when you know how to do it.