Tools, Tips and More

Welcome to the Rock Brook School blog, where our special education experts will provide helpful information and strategies for parents and professionals working with special needs children. Please check back often for the latest tips and tools, or better yet, become a subscriber so that you will never miss a post. Thank you for visiting our blog. If you have any questions or feedback contact blogger@rock-brook.org. We would love to hear from you.

Central Auditory Processing Disorder

Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD), also known as Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is a learning difference where people have difficulty with listening to and processing spoken language. A person’s hearing may be fine, but they have difficulty making sense of what they hear. The brain misinterprets what is heard; therefore a child’s response may seem off target or not what their communication partner expected it to be. The term CAPD or APD refers to how the Central Nervous System processes auditory information. APD is not a result of a higher-order cognitive, language, or related disorder. For example, children diagnosed with autism may have receptive language difficulties due a higher order global disorder, rather than due to a central nervous system processing disorder. Those diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder may have trouble with comprehending and recalling verbalizations. This may be due to difficulty remaining focused and attending, rather than to a neural processing disorder.

CAPD may be suspected by a Speech/Language Specialist, but is diagnosed by a series of tests that are administered by an audiologist, no earlier than the age of 7. An audiologist will first determine if a child’s hearing acuity is within normal limits. The audiologist will evaluate a person’s ability to understand and recall speech in quiet as compared to the presence of background noise, and how each ear performs when it receives these messages. The ability to decode or understand sounds, combine sounds, listen for a pattern, and determine where a sound is coming from, is assessed.

If a diagnosis of CAPD is made, a Speech/Language Specialist will be helpful in not only providing therapy but also by affording in-class support to the teaching team. A whole class or personal FM system is often beneficial. FM systems allow the child to hear a teacher’s voice more clearly and loudly while making background noises less problematic. Rock Brook School uses both personal and whole-class FM systems when appropriate.

Strategies that can be employed both in the classroom and at home include the following:

  • Have the child sit in the front row or close to the source of the sound.
  • Reduce background noises when possible. For example turn off the TV or computer when giving directions to your child.
  • Always get a child’s attention, “eyes on me” when speaking.
  • Use visual aides to assist in understanding such as tangible items, gestures, pictures, or printed words.
  • Speak slowly and in short phrases rather than using long complicated sentences.
  • Have your child repeat the directions you have given. Keep them short and one-step, at least initially. For children that can read, write the directions on paper or use their iPad to record directions in pictures/words.
  • Repeat and re-phrase information if the message is misunderstood.
  • Teach your child to be a self-advocate!

September – Back to Routine!

It’s that time of year again — Time to shop for new shoes, backpacks and lunch boxes. Back to school time can be stressful for many parents and students, but for families with special needs children, getting back into the school routine, after summer break, can be even more of a challenge. Children, and many adults, benefit greatly from structure, organization and routine. Here are ten tips to help ease the transition:

  1. Provide structure as the beginning of school comes closer. (i.e. regular bedtimes, regular daily schedules of activities such as packing snacks and lunches as well as selecting clothing the night before).
  1. If appropriate, plan for the transition back to school with photos and/or social story.   It could include information about summer vacation to share with friends, but also pictures of school, teachers, etc.
  1. Learn the school routine – review the bus pickup, bus route, and if possible daily routine at school ahead of time so student knows what to expect.
  1. Visit the school a week or so ahead of school start date. If meeting the teacher isn’t possible, walk around the school, see the principal and office staff, and visit the classroom.
  1. Make sure all medical information is up-to-date and any special information that the school nurse or school staff needs to know is included. Prepare a one-page guide to your child if you feel it’s necessary for teaching, therapy and nursing staff.
  1. Talk to your child about what’s going to happen, and do so frequently so the information will sink in.
  1. Associate school with fun and remind them of enjoyable events and  past achievements.
  1. Make sure you have your IEP available and ready for any questions you may need to ask as the school program starts.
  1. Buying new clothes and school supplies are activities which also signal the beginning of school and the eventual adjustment to the school routine.
  1. Designate a “launch pad” or location for your child to keep their book bag and lunch box.