Sophie Wood Talks About Learning with Auditory Processing Disorder


Sophie Wood is a student at Colby College, majoring in psychology and minoring in anthropology. She most enjoys learning about really understanding what makes people tick and how to maximize human capacity within organizations. She’s especially interested in Eariously because she’s excited that it will help how she learns with auditory processing disorder. You can listen to our conversation with Sophie on SoundCloud.


For folks who do not know, would you mind explaining what auditory processing disorder is?


An easy way to explain auditory processing disorder to me is that it’s like dyslexia with hearing.

While I will be listening really, really hard, as one word comes in, I’m processing that one, but by the time I’ve processed that, several more words of the sentence have been said. And so I'm only getting really sporadic pieces of what is being said. It really helps to have a visual component, so I do a lot of reading and listening at the same time. It’s tough to re-do all the class sessions, and if I miss anything in the reading, it takes so long to sit down to actually read. So, when I'm skimming, I'm missing key elements, and then I don’t get those in class, which other people do. So, that’s difficult.


Do you remember when you first realized that you learned differently than your peers?


I kept on having to ask extra questions, and that's something that Colby’s been really, really good with, which I was nervous about. I can go to professors outside of class and ask questions and they'll basically be repeating exactly what they said in class, and they don't have an issue with that.

But, I realized it when I was asking questions in class when I was younger, and kind of during the key embarrassing stage of not wanting to seem dumb, and those questions were very, very obvious to everyone else because the professor had said it several times and I had missed the key components or I was showing up with work that was not half complete, but incorrectly done because I'd heard it differently and missed an element. That was when I noticed.


Would you mind sharing how long it takes to complete a normal night of work? And what are the strategies that help you the most?


I would say I put about four or five hours of reading a night just because both of my majors require a lot of reading. My minor and my major and then other classes that I'm interested in are all reading based.

I put a lot more time into things just because I do it slower. At the beginning, every lecture I was doing twice. Obviously, that’s a huge chunk of time, and that was just to go over my notes and fill in the blank spots. I do hundreds and hundreds of notecards of the notes, so that I can go to the professor, outside of classes. I know all of my professors very well because I give them a head’s up at the beginning of the semester that they will know me very well.

I put a star in the margins of my paper everytime that I miss something. And then I go, and go back over it with the professor, but obviously the professors can’t remember word for word hours or days later what they were saying. So, I definitely miss things. But, this has been working for the most part.


Would you mind sharing any other strategies that have helped you with learning?


I like to do things very ahead of time, so that I had the time and ability to go to professors and make sure that I actually understood everything and got all the information that I needed. Because, especially in classes where the reading’s really dense, the point of the class is to go over the reading, but if I'm missing that time and if I'm missing those elements in class, then I'm not getting that. And so, it really is just meeting with the professors, doing things really far ahead of time and then taking a hell of a lot of notes and going over those several times.


What do folks most often misunderstand about learning in the auditory processing disorder community?


I’m like anyone else, and that I’m trying and, and listening actively. But, when we ask questions, it isn’t out of trying to be annoying or because we weren’t listening, even though they seem like very repetitive questions, it isn't because we weren't listening or trying or that we’re just dumb.


How do you think that Eariously will help your learning and other folks with auditory processing disorders?


So, being able to one, listen and read at the same time would be really, really helpful having the visual and auditory at the same time. Considering sitting down and reading takes so long, being able to skim like I was maybe, but then also whenever I'm walking to a class, or making breakfast in the morning, or driving somewhere, I can listen and know that I’m going through the majority of it, if not all of it. And having the time to do that because it provides more freedom and time.



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Nick Rimsa