One of these ways is with the choice of a reading program. Since I knew nothing about auditory processing delays, I didn't realize how different reading programs might affect my son's success, but this makes a huge difference!
However, our current focus on teaching children to read is phonics, but phonics doesn't address the needs of every student. So what should you consider when phonics just isn't working for your child?
Two Reasons Intensive Phonics Programs Won't Work
When beginning readers struggle to process individual sounds or syllables, intensive phonics programs will be the most difficult programs to use.
Intensive phonics programs require students to memorize many rules.
The problem is, when students have a hard time hearing, they aren't going to be able to memorize rules. If it took my son three years to learn the 26 basic letter sounds, how long would it take for him to memorize the dozens of additional rules?
Well past the optimal years of learning to read from ages six to eight, that's for sure! Worse, intensive phonics programs use the syllable as the basic building block for all reading and spelling instruction. If the program requires syllable recognition, and the children can't hear the syllables, this is a recipe for disaster.
Unfortunately, most of the remedial reading programs on the market, including all Orton-Gillingham method programs, which are marketed specifically to remedial readers, fall into this category.
By the time your children are ages six to eight, if an intensive phonics program has not worked already, more phonics won't help.
My son's issue was not that I hadn't found the right Orton-Gillingham program: it was that Orton-Gillingham methods were not going to work for him.
Learning rules about syllable division, when he already couldn't hear the syllables, let alone the sounds, was a misguided hope.
However, waiting to learn to read until children have good auditory processing isn't a good option, either. Have you heard the 1 in 4 statistic? Children have only a 1 in 4 chance of getting up to speed after third grade.
Though you can't fix the auditory processing, and it will probably correct itself on its own, you do still need to help your student move forward with learning to read.
And for that, I have good news.
The Program Designed for Children with Auditory Processing Delays
The Happy Cheetah Reading System is the only reading program on the market specifically designed to work for children with auditory processing disorders, giving them the best possible chance to become good readers.
Happy Cheetah Reading works with all students because it allows for all different types of giftings, it's multi-sensory and multimodality. There are many ways to create links in the brain, so even if students don't have the auditory processing pathway to link information, that's okay—the brain compensates. (In fact, for my son, he was missing both the auditory and the visual piece—and Happy Cheetah still worked for him.)
Happy Cheetah's workbooks include copywork and drawing, visual recognition, auditory reads, and physical manipulation of letters.
So if you have a student who can't hear rhymes: that's okay! Happy Cheetah has built-in redundancy, so you don't need to fix the weakness. You can ignore it, and enjoy positive reinforcement, so your student's brain stays relaxed and interested.
Happy Cheetah offers the opportunity for all students to start from their strengths, and there are enough ways for the brain to build links that no one should feel bad about missing a piece. Work on what makes sense to the students, what they love.
The brain is amazing, and with Happy Cheetah, it has the tools and the permission to create the links that it can, given a wide range of tools and opportunities.
For example, one 8-year-old girl could not hear the difference between n and m. At all.
Even now, she has a hard time dividing words into sounds, but she is in the process of learning to read with Happy Cheetah, after making no progress with several programs before.
How wonderful to have a program that recognizes this difficulty and works even despite it.
Don't give up! Your children can still learn to read, even without perfect auditory processing.
Lay the Foundation
For students with auditory processing challenges, it's a good idea to plan to start again at the beginning, laying the foundation. It is much easier to teach children who don't know how to read than to teach children who think that they don't know how to read. When you start back at the beginning, your students get immediate success, which creates a stress-free learning environment.
Also, when you do go back to the beginning, don't worry about how long the process will take. Dr. Karen has worked with 12-year-olds who couldn't read, who worked up to grade level in less than a year.
Your children might be able to fly through the first workbook in a few weeks. That's wonderful! That means your child is getting additional practice reading words they already know.
This additional reading time is vital to creating smooth pathways in the brain for more fluent reading. Until the simple text is automatic, and the foundation is solid, your children will not be able to read well.
Sometimes older children have a bunch of knowledge bricks. Then, once they get a solid foundation, the knowledge bricks they've accumulated over time quickly build their reading house.
From Frustrated to Fluent
If you have been working with your child for years, and you haven't had a breakthrough, there is hope. Dr. Karen designed the Happy Cheetah Reading System for children just like yours, and she has seen tens of thousands of frustrated families gain reading success.
Your child's path will look different than others, and that's okay. As with all learning and development, one size doesn't fit all, and it's our job as parents to find what will help our child be successful.