Sophia's New Choices

Sophia is a bright ten year old who has been diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder. Auditory processing deficits occur in children who despite normal hearing have difficulty processing what they hear. That can mean not understanding the difference between two similar sounds, having difficulty understanding speech in noise, such as at a birthday party or in a typical classroom, and social anxiety due to never being sure of what is being said to them.

Before coming to the Oakland Scottish Rite Childhood Language Center at age 8 in 2012, Sophia was socially awkward and reticent. She was shy and had no friends. She had difficulty accepting any changes in her routine and was loathe to try new activities. She had difficulty being creative and she could not enjoy fictional literature that challenged her imagination. Trinh, her mother, was concerned about Sophia’s difficulty with oral language processing and her anxiety about both classroom participation and social situations. Teachers noted that Sophia would ask the same questions over and over again. Her mother’s hope was that we could help Sophia become more self-confident, more comfortable speaking up in class and social settings, and more independent.

Sophia participated in our Fast ForWord program, which addresses auditory processing, from November 2012 until April 2013, completing four levels with little difficulty. However, she still demonstrated anxiety about processing oral language, especially with what is called “higher order language,” such as making deductions, predictions, and inferences, and summarizing the main idea of written texts. She then participated in a critical thinking group from July 2013 until July 2014 to work on higher order language skills, improving her ease in social situations and also helping her language processing of abstract terms.

However, the dramatic shift forward came when Sophia participated in Interactive Metronome and The Listening Program beginning in the summer of 2014. In her mother’s words:

“Sophia improved in many ways recently after the introduction of The Listening Program and Interactive Metronome. She seems happy, more confident, and more outgoing. She is more on task with her work and does not need to constantly check in with me. She states she understands her school work and is able to give me a logical description of her day at school.”

With greater self-confidence, Sophia has been willing to initiate many new activities. The first sign of this was when Sophia went on a 3-day school trip. Parents and chaperones were surprised to find her taking risks such as riding on the zip line and taking a solo hike. She chose classmates to share a cabin with and had a good time with them. She was invited to one girl’s birthday party at the Santa Cruz boardwalk. She is also branching out in extracurricular activities by signing up for her school’s oratorical fest (on her own!) and has joined the Oakland Girls Softball League for the first time.

Academically, her mother noted how Sophia’s increased understanding of abstract language has broadened her horizons. When asked to do a project on the moon, says her mother, “instead of doing a research project, which she would have chosen in the past, she opted to do a poem with illustrations!” Sophia is writing much better and with vivid descriptions.

None of these activities would have been possible when Sophia’s difficulty with processing speech and fear of taking risks were creating limitations in her life. Sophia’s dramatic changes can be summed up by her own statement that she wants to “get out of [her] comfort zone.” All of us at the Language Center are happy to see Sophia finish her time with us on such an upbeat note and are confident that she will maintain her progress going forward.

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