Case Study 2 - Michael's story

Michael* was also 14 when he first came for assessment.  He was unsettled at times at school, having problems concentrating  and was being disruptive in class, but he  had no difficulty making friends.

Michael’s psychological tests revealed that he could do most tasks at the level expected for his age. However, he had difficulty with auditory attention and particularly with complex tasks requiring auditory processing. What this means is that he has difficulty paying attention when listening, and then following through instructions that he has heard. Even though he had a good visual memory and could recall things he had heard straight away, he had real difficulty recalling verbal information such as a list of names or dates if there was a delay.

The fact that his delayed recall was particularly poor, being well below what would have been expected in comparison with his visual memory, means that Michael would have difficulty learning just by listening to what the teacher was saying. If he had been presented with information visually, it is likely that he would do much better. When Michael was asked to remember a story on the other hand, he did extremely well as he was able to use his strong visual skills to aid his memory, for example, by creating a picture or movie in his mind of the story.

Michael demonstrated some superior abilities in his verbal fluency and memory skills, and his ability for complex reasoning indicated that his intellectual capacity was above average. Nevertheless, he did have difficulties which were probably being hidden in many situations because Michael could compensate for these weaknesses by using his intelligence and visual skills. Treating the underlying cause of his problems through restoring cellular health to the brain and nervous system and providing auditory training would allow Michael to achieve the stage of neuro-relaxation in that he would not have to put in the extra energy that efforts to compensate for his difficulties requires.

Although that he did not have a problem with abstract thinking, his difficulties with auditory processing meant that where he had to deal with complex instructions presented aurally, he would have with difficulty, even though his hearing was accurate. What this means for children like Michael is that they have real difficulty following teachers’ instructions and may not remember information that was told to the class at the beginning of the lesson. They may appear disobedient at home as well, particularly if they are told a number of things to do. Naturally, they may find themselves getting into trouble or developing a reputation for being lazy. Where information is meaningful and their memory can be aided by visualization, they will do better. But in most homes and classrooms, parents and teachers rely on speaking to get their message across.

It is important that the nature of children’s difficulties be understood. In these cases, the distracting behaviour they engage in at home or in the classroom may be a cover for frustration or embarrassment at the difficulty an otherwise bright child has in processing complex auditory information. In their studies they can compensate for this by using their strong visual skills, and teachers may find that giving them information visually (e.g., lists with diagrams or pictures) helps them to focus in class. Previously, we only had such strategies to assist children such as these. The CAN DO Program provides ways to treat the underlying issues.

* His name has been changed for privacy.