Hearing is a challenge for Darcy. She can’t focus on words when there’s background noise and she also has to cope with autism and ADHD, which makes her life even more challenging at school and at home! To help smooth out the bumps in her life, Satan’s Little Helper provided some lights to help her sleep and something to help with the sounds that cause her so much stress.
Everything was going smoothly for Darcy until the end of her time at kindy.
“She started having a hard time emotionally,” explains her mum, Doris. “Unfortunately, that manifested in a bit of aggression from her, which caught us off guard because it was so unlike her!”
Doris and Darcy’s kindy teachers were left scratching their heads about the cause of her sudden behaviour change, before eventually coming up with auditory processing disorder (APD) as a possible reason.
The New Zealand Audiological Society defines APD as “overall terms for hearing disorders that result from impaired processing of auditory information in the brain and can result in poor hearing or auditory comprehension”.
“Darcy was diagnosed with APD in 2022 and it was recommended that she get tested for ADHD and autism spectrum disorder as well. She was diagnosed with both in 2023.”
The best care for Darcy
Now that Darcy is diagnosed, her mum and teachers can work towards providing her with the best environment in which to learn.
“The classroom is so loud, she finds it hard to block out the surrounding distraction and concentrate on what the teacher is saying,” says Doris.
“She’s eager to learn and when she can’t focus, she gets frustrated quickly, which can lead to her having aggressive meltdowns.”
Thankfully, Darcy’s current teacher is “amazing” and incredibly supportive. She has a pair of noise-cancelling earmuffs that Darcy can wear when she needs to focus on her work, but there could be another problem on the horizon.
“Darcy has kept the same teacher for Year 1 and 2. Routine changes are a major challenge for her and even something small, like moving classrooms, can be a massive deal to her.
“My concern for next year is that having a new teacher will be extremely difficult, especially as Year 3 is more academically rigorous. She could start to fall behind if she doesn’t have any way to cope with her new environment or a teacher who understands her situation.”
Satan’s Little Helper couldn’t stand by and let Darcy fall behind, so we provided her with her own pair of noise-cancelling earmuffs, a fidget toy kit and a sound and light projector.
“The earmuffs will be a huge help, especially considering that next year she won’t have access to school-provided ones,” says Doris. “The sensory toys have helped to avoid meltdowns, as she knows she has them available to her when she needs to play and take the stress out of school.
“The light projector has been incredible too. It gives her something to focus on when she’s trying to fall asleep, as she can look at the stars moving across the room – and she’s waking up less in the night too!”
Darcy’s case is all too common, but Doris is determined to fight for her every step of the way.
“Darcy is a very bright little girl, who frequently gets extremely frustrated and distressed because she cannot understand the world around her. The social and emotional impacts of her disabilities are devastating to see her go through. I am also autistic and had a very poor outcome during my school years, so now all I want is to see my daughter succeed.”