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Hear My Story

The technology is so simple and yet it makes such a big difference

"The impact on him has been transformational. His confidence has rocketed and he finds it much easier to understand the tasks set by his teacher."

Posted 05-04-2016 by sophieresound

4th May 2016 
Liz is a Dance Artist who makes participatory performances and projects for children and their families and a mother of three. Her eldest son Solomon was diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder when he was 10 years old.

"Solomon’s hearing first became a cause for concern for us when he was nine months old. He was diagnosed with glue ear and struggled with his hearing on and off over the next five years despite having two operations to insert grommets and an adenoidectomy.

By the time he was seven we were told that his hearing was within normal limits. However, my husband and I still had concerns. Solomon was struggling in some areas in his learning and we felt it was having an impact on his self-esteem.

We spoke to his school who performed various tests for dyslexia but the results were inconclusive and in the meantime, Solomon was still struggling. Finally, out of frustration, we decided to pay for a private dyslexia assessment. This assessment concluded that Solomon was not dyslexic however; he did show many of the symptoms of auditory processing disorder. Auditory processing disordering (APD) affects about 5% of school aged children but there is very little awareness of it in the UK. Children with APD appear to have normal hearing when tested because they can hear sounds delivered one at a time in a quiet environment. However, they may not recognise slight differences between the sounds in words and put them into a situation with background noise – like a typical classroom or playground – and they can have trouble understanding what is being said to them. Essentially something interferes with the way the brain recognises and interprets sounds, especially speech. As a result, they may find it very tiring to stay focused in class and struggle with reading, spelling and writing skills among others.



Of course, I did not know all of this at the time. In fact, the suggestion that Solomon had APD came as a huge shock. Initially I was cross with myself that I had not pushed for further tests when he was younger. I knew nothing about APD despite having worked in special needs schools for many years.

There was some material online, but by far the best source of information and support was a Parents Day organised by Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). After that I fought to get Solomon referred to GOSH, jumping through multiple hoops until finally we saw the wonderful team there in December 2014 and Solomon was formally diagnosed with APD.

As a family, we felt a huge sense of relief when we finally got his diagnosis. It helped us all but especially Solomon – being able to understand for the first time why he struggled in some contexts and got left behind in conversations in the playground was big deal for him.  However, diagnosis was just the start. APD is not well supported in the NHS and we fall outside the catchment area for GOSH. We tried everything to get support from our local authority but there just did not seem to be a clear pathway or process like there is with a diagnosis of something like dyslexia.

It was not until we succeeded in getting Solomon accepted onto a research project at the Institute of Hearing Research that we began to see some progress. He was given an APD Bundle to wear at school. Essentially the Bundle is a simple hearing system – Solomon wears a pair of discreet hearing aids, which are connected wirelessly to a small microphone worn by the teacher. The microphone transmits the teacher’s voice directly to his ears. No matter how noisy the classroom, he is able to hear the teacher clearly. The impact on him has been transformational. His confidence has rocketed and he finds it much easier to understand the tasks set by his teacher. His ability to concentrate in class and stay focused on tasks has hugely increased and we have seen a huge change in his overall well-being.

Solomon is a typical “peer conscious” eleven year old but he takes total responsibility for his “ears” as we affectionately call them and would not be without them now. He wears them without prompting and makes sure the system is fully charged each day. He automatically hands the mic to whoever is teaching class and is able to explain to any new teachers that he has APD, and explain how the system benefits him. Most people do not notice he is wearing them but if they do, Solomon just explains he has difficulty in concentrating on some sounds and it takes the teachers voice straight to his ears. We are very proud of him and the progress he has made.

If I had to give one piece of advice to other parents in the same situation, it would be not to give up and to use every means they can to get a diagnosis. The team at GOSH are a huge source of information and support if you are lucky enough to be able to see them, but if you cannot, ask your local NHS department about the ReSound APD Bundle. They might be able to fund it for you or point you in the direction of help. The technology is so simple and yet it makes such a big difference. In Solomon’s own words:

“My hearing devices help me to listen and concentrate better on what the teacher is saying. It helps me to understand better and work better. This means that I can do the best I can in school.” "