Helping Kids with Auditory Processing Disorders-guest Dr. Jody Jedlicka

In this episode of The Brainy Moms podcast, Dr. Amy interviews audiologist Dr. Jody Jedlicka. Dr. Jody specializes in auditory processing disorders (APD) and the challenges children with APD experience. She shares her clinical experience with brain training as an effective intervention for APD, not only for remediating cognitive deficits but also for improving the personal stories children can begin to create about their own futures. 

Read the transcript of this episode:

Episode 107:
Helping Children with Auditory Processing Disorders
Dr. Amy’s Interview with Special Guest Dr. Jody Jedlicka

Dr. Amy: Hi, and welcome to this episode of Brainy Moms. I’m your host, Dr. Amy. Teri is on a mommy sabbatical this week. If you want to know more about mommy sabbaticals or momcations, be sure to listen to Episode 106, where we actually debate the idea of mom vacations.

I’m excited to introduce you all to my guest today, Dr. Jody Jedlicka. Dr. Jody is a doctor of audiology who has specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of auditory processing disorders. She is a certified success principles trainer who is obsessed with personal growth and development, and the role mindset plays in success. And she is also the co-host of the podcast, Sisterhood of Success. Welcome Dr. Jody.

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: Thank you. Thank you very much.

Dr. Amy: Yeah, I’m excited to have you on our podcast! I was a guest on yours and it was so much fun talking to you. I didn’t want it to end. Um, so you are coming to us from Wisconsin today.

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: I am.

Dr. Amy: How’s the weather there?

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: It’s actually not too bad. It’s about 50 degrees, which is like awesome for this time of year in Wisconsin, we’ve got leaves, we’ve got flowers popping up. It’s all good.

Dr. Amy: That’s about what we’re seeing here in Colorado today, but you never know. It could change!

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: Same here. It snowed. And there were three inches of snow on Wednesday this week.

Dr. Amy: We had some this week, too. Um, so before we dive in, um, tell our listeners what a doctor of audiology is.

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: Sure. So I work with ears and hearing. So, um, I think my career is kind of spanned a lot of different parts of ears in hearing, but I started out as an educational audiologist for a big urban school district. Um, I developed a real, uh, interest in figuring out how hearing affects learning that led me to, um, testing and treating kids with auditory processing disorders. And now I actually work as a audiologist with older adults and fit them with hearing AIDS and all of those things have been very interesting, exciting parts of my career.

Dr. Amy: Wow. So you’ve, you’ve addressed the lifespan, auditory processing and hearing issues then.

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: I definitely have. Yes.

Dr. Amy: So auditory processing disorders are your specialty. Um, talk to us about what those are and how they affect students.

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: Okay. Well, as a brain researcher, you can appreciate that you don’t actually hear with your ears. You hear with your brain, your ears actually detect sound. Um, but it’s the brain that does all the heavy lifting. And so your brain helps you understand what you’re hearing. And, um, so people with auditory processing disorders, their ears are working like they should be, but the way their brain handles that information is inefficient. So, in essence, those kids tend to look like they have a hearing impairment, but it’s not that they’re…So with hearing impairment, the ears are sending faulty information to the brain for interpretation, right? And if you have an auditory processing disorder, the ear is sending good information. It’s just the way that that information is processed or used by the brain. Um, that is a challenge for them. So it’s like having a hearing impairment of your brain.

Dr. Amy: That’s fascinating. And I’m sure it’s really misunderstood as well.

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: I think it is misunderstood. I think it’s even misunderstood within the field of audiology. Um, and there’s a lot of debate about it and I don’t know that we need to get into the debate, but you know, it kind of crosses boundaries between speech and language pathology, um, psychology and audiology. I mean, and I think to me, it doesn’t necessarily matter. We need to take the whole big picture. We need to take the whole child into account and figure out how to best, um, diagnose what’s going on and help them.

Dr. Amy: Sure, sure. So, um, what are the real life challenges that students with auditory processing disorders experience

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: Sure. Officially, um, kids with auditory processing disorders will have difficulty hearing in background noise. So imagine your typical classroom. I always say 25 kids who are trying to be quiet still make a lot of noise. Um, they may have auditory attention problems, so paying attention to someone who’s speaking or talking, especially if that goes on for a little while. Um, so you can almost see that they have this window of time, that they can focus and pay attention to auditory or spoken information. And then you just see this kind of curtain come down over their face and, you know, they’re not tuned in anymore. Um, they may have difficulty understanding, um, or have a better time understanding and one-on-one situations rather than a group, um, because of the background noise and the distraction. Um, they may have trouble localizing or finding where they are hearing a sound coming from.

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: They have trouble remembering oral information, so directions, um, instructions, anything that comes at them orally. Um, they’re slow in processing auditory information, so they need a beat or two before they’re able to act on what they hear. They tend to be overwhelmed by busy auditory environments. Again, think your typical classroom. Um, and I think this is one of the more interesting ones, but they sometimes will have difficulty interpreting tone of voice or stress or some of the other nuances of speech. Practically speaking, um, when people are out looking for answers, parents are usually coming in saying that their kids are having difficulty in school, especially with things like reading and language and spelling. This is for sure the number one thing that parents are noticing. And of course that bleeds over into almost everything because reading directions, reading test questions, reading math word problems, all of those things can be affected by difficulty with reading. Um, they may have language disorders, they may have attention problems, but usually it’s the academic challenges that bring parents to my door.

Dr. Amy: Okay. So, um, you told me that having an auditory processing disorder or really any learning challenge, um, affects the story that kids create about themselves and their capabilities. Talk to us about that and how it’s important to recognize that phenomenon.

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: Yeah. Um, I think that, um, with my work with personal growth and development, what I have come to realize is that people create this story. I always call it the box that you live in. You know, you create this story from when you’re a child on, and it’s, it’s the ideas that you develop about yourself, what you’re capable of doing, what your rules are, and just how you function in the world. And so kids who struggle with learning and reading and auditory processing disorders, um, they will have these stories that they’ve created about themselves and what they’re capable of. Like I, um, I’m not smart enough. Everything is hard for me. I can’t do things that everyone else can do. I hate school. I’m not good enough. Um, my family is stressed out about me, so there must be something wrong with me. And they kind of come in with all of these feelings or beliefs about what they’re capable of, that, um, they carry into adulthood. So, if you think about some of the beliefs that you have as an adult, a six year old came up with a lot of those things. Your six year old self came up with a lot of those things and they tend to run your life. So it affects what their choices are for the future. It affects what careers they choose. It affects what they, you know, whether they decide to go to college or not, it affects, um, their relationships and, um, their confidence, things like that. Does that make sense?

Dr. Amy: Absolutely. Um, so, Dr. Jody, you are a fan of brain training, just like we are.

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: Oh my gosh. I’m such a fan of brain training.

Dr. Amy: Right.So, talk to us a little about your experience with brain training and auditory processing disorders.

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: So, for a long time, in the early 2000s, I just would diagnose an auditory processing problem. And that was huge for parents because they’re looking for answers. They want to know why their child is struggling. And I was able to say, yep, you’re right. There’s a problem, good luck with that. And I’d give them a list of accommodations or things that they could implement at school and, um, cross my fingers and hope for the best for them. Um, but after a little while that just didn’t feel like enough. And I know that from going to conferences and doing research and things like that, that there are so many things that can be done to help a person with auditory processing disorder. So I started looking for options, you know, what could I do to change the course of this child’s life rather than just say, yep, you’re right, there’s a problem. So offering a solution and brain training is what, what I keyed in on when I found brain training, I felt like somebody had taken everything I’ve ever learned about what to do and how to help and put it together in one package that I could use. And as a clinician, it’s really hard sometimes to be reinventing the wheel all the time, you know, coming up with your own materials, coming up with your own things, but with brain training, with the LearningRx program, which is what I worked with, um, that was all done for me. And I just had a toolbox full of everything that I needed and could pick and choose the things that, that this child sitting in front of me could use.

Dr. Amy: Wow. And so, and your husband actually is a clinician too.

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: He actually was a clinician before I was, because I, um, found this program and he’s a psychologist and I went to him and said, Hey, look, I found this program. It seems perfect. Um, but I don’t know if I have time to do this too. And he said, no problem. I’ll go get trained. And so he actually was originally trained, um, just a couple of months after he got trained, I went and got trained because immediately we were seeing such success with the kids that he was working with. Um, that it just seemed like a no brainer for me to get that a no brainer for me to go and get a train as well.

Dr. Amy: Excellent. Well, speaking of brain training, we need to take a quick break and read a word from our sponsor.

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Dr. Amy: Okay. We’re back and talking with audiologist, Dr. Jody Jedlicka. Dr. Jody, you’ve said that brain training can give students the opportunity to recreate the definition of who they are or rewrite their story like you were talking about earlier. What does that look like?

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: Well, I think that, that wasn’t actually initially what I started out to do. I started out to change their cognitive skills, but what I saw that I think is even as profound or maybe more profound, is how it changes the way that a student sees themselves. Um, and when they’re working, when we do brain training, we did it one-on-one, um, same trainer, same student, and that trainer spent several hours a week working one-on-one with the, with the child. And you can imagine if one person is focusing specifically on you for several hours a week, we as parents kind of dream about having the ability and the time to do that, but to have a professional who can sit there and offer feedback is hugely powerful for kids. And it gives them…Well, the way the trainer reacts to them I think gives them an opportunity to kind of see themselves in a new light and to discover that the things that they thought about themselves are not true at all.

Um, I do think that having a trainer across the table from them, rather than doing like a digital program or something, I think having a trainer across the table from them is key for that. Um, so, you know, they think I’m not smart enough that becomes, you know, if I work hard, I can do something, you know, I can achieve things or, um, I have strengths and weaknesses and that’s okay if I focus on my strengths and work on my weaknesses, things will improve. Um, school’s not so bad, you know, we come to, they come to their session. We talk about what’s been better, what they’ve gotten better at, and they’ll come in and say things like I read out loud, or I knew the president that came after Lincoln or, you know, nobody else in my class knew that, um, my family is proud of me. I’m special. I can do things that other people can’t do.

Um, and so having somebody be able to completely focus on them for several hours a week gives them, gives the trainer the opportunity to really tease those things out in a student. And, um, so some of the things that I see that are critical for success in adults are that they develop things like persistence. And this is by far my favorite quality in a person. And I think kids come in with this already, even if they’ve struggled, because they’re the kids who have to work harder than everybody else does. And so I think right away on their very first session with a trainer, a trainer can find a way to point out that that student has persistence. I remember telling parents that, you know, your child already knows how to work. They work harder than everybody else does. If we can just give them the tools or the skills to be able to make some progress with all that work, um, imagine where they can go with that. Um, they already know how to work hard. I don’t have to teach that part of it. So, um, so teaching them that when they work hard, they can, they can do hard things.

Um, I think that they develop grit or, and when I looked up the, uh, I looked up the definition of grit and the definition I came back with was, uh, bravery backbone, strength of will. And again, I think that goes toward that ability to have a coach sitting across the table from you, having you do it again and again, and, and pointing out to you, the improvement that you’ve made every trial. And they just learn that their hard work pays off and that if they’re directed that they can accomplish things that they didn’t think they could, or that their brother or sister can’t do or that other classmates can’t do. Does that make sense?

Dr. Amy: Absolutely. And it seems really, well, first of all, it aligns what, with what I see all day, every day, of course. Um, but it also seems to lead into, you know, what you had talked about with me before that you’ve observed that brain training teaches and develops the principles of success, too. So could you just elaborate a little more on that?

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: Absolutely. I think one of the important principles of success is the ability to see failure as feedback, and they see failure as failure, but really, um, you know, working with a trainer helps them to understand that we all make mistakes, but it’s what we do with that. Um, with that mistake, it’s what we do after that, that makes determines whether that’s a failure or not. You know, if a failure makes you quit, then it’s a failure. If a failure makes you step back and say, “Hey, what did I do right? What did I do wrong? What can I do better next time?” Then it’s really just feedback and people who see failures or mistakes as failure, um, they let that shut them down. Uh, people who can take that information and move on and move forward with it, then it’s just feedback.

Dr. Amy: I love that. I mean, it’s almost like taking the emotion out of it and looking at it for what it really is, and then saying, okay, here’s my challenge. How am I going to attack that challenge?

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: And that bleeds over into everything that they do? You know, I mean, the same thing happens at soccer practice. The same thing happens at home when they’re cleaning their room. I mean, it’s just, it’s a skill that I think is invaluable. Being able to not let those mistakes just stop them in their tracks. And if you think about it, sometimes kids who don’t ever have to struggle and everything comes easily to them. At some point they are going to struggle with something and they haven’t developed or had the opportunity to, to develop those skills that allowed them to see that as just feedback. They don’t know what to do in that situation. So I think kids with brain training are better, better equipped to take care of that.

They also develop the ability to see the glass half full, um, or to look for the positive. And I think it’s similar to what we were just talking about, but, you know, if a trainer says to a student, “Okay, we’re going to do that one more time, but do you know what I love about what you just did? You read every single word very carefully and, or you, um, use, you knew you made a mistake and you corrected yourself and you went on.” And so they’re able to with assistance at first, pick those things out, but they’re able to start seeing those things themselves. So being able to see the good in what they do and use that for future success.

Dr. Amy: Excellent.

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: I also think that they develop, uh, just a huge sense of control over situations. So they know that in any situation, if their outcomes and they might not know this in the exact same words, but if their outcomes are not what they want, if they’re not reading as well as they can, or they’re not being successful at school, um, they know that they have some control in any situation. They just need to take some action toward, toward their own success. They need to know that their work pays off and that even if they couldn’t do something last week, they can do something now that they couldn’t do. Um, and so again, I think those kids often feel out of control when they come in, like they’re a victim of circumstance or a victim period, and they learn that they have all kinds of control in any situation that they can do hard things, that they’re stronger than they think that they are.

Dr. Amy: So, the success breeds more success.

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: Exactly. And learning to recognize and look for that success breeds more success because they may have been doing those things all along, but nobody pointed out to them that that was a cool thing that they were doing. You know, they’re so stuck in the, in the negative sometimes. Um, I have a friend who’s a psychologist, who’s he always says the good things slide off you like Teflon and the bad things that you think about yourself get stuck like Velcro. And it’s so easy to let the bad things define you, but they start to look for the good things to define themselves.

Dr. Amy: Absolutely. You know, we know from self-efficacy theory that our belief in our ability to accomplish something is actually a greater predictor of accomplishing that than our actual ability. And so obviously we’d like to have both, but to know that you can increase that self-confidence and self-esteem and sense of control. Um, I mean, that’s a life skill, like you’re saying that’s applicable across scenarios.

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: Uh huh. Yeah. And they learn that. They learn that they’re capable and that they can solve problems and that they can do things that are challenging and that mistakes don’t have to shut them down. They’re just kind of an opportunity for course correction. And all of those are life skills that, you know, as an adult, as a teenager, as anybody, those are so valuable and so difficult to teach. And we have such a unique opportunity to really just engrain those lessons in kids when we’re doing brain training.

Dr. Amy: Right. And can you imagine then, you know, you mentioned earlier that, um, the stories that, you know, we’ve told ourselves, even as adults, we wrote those stories as a six year old, well can you imagine with early intervention? I mean, if you’re able to, you know, impact those stories at six, seven, eight, um, how different we might be attacking challenges as adults as well.

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: Yeah. And I think you’re catching them when you’re working with a child, you’re catching them while they’re developing those stories. So these stories aren’t quite as concrete as they are for us as adults. Um, and I think they’re just so much easier to kind of mold as they’re going along because, because they’re, they haven’t practiced those stories as long as we have as adults. And so if we can point those things out to them, it’s fun to just watch it change right in front of your eyes. I don’t know that I’ve ever done anything quite so important as help a child understand themselves differently.

Dr. Amy: That’s beautiful. So I want to switch this up now and talk about, um, your personal experience as a brainy mom. Um, so first let me ask, um, if you could go back in time, what words of encouragement would you say to yourself as a new mom?

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: I think as a new mom, these were harder questions by the way. Um, I think as a new mom, one of the things that I would tell myself is to enjoy the ride. Um, I think that I was so concerned about getting things done and having something at the end of every day to be able to show for all the energy that I’ve put out that, um, sometimes I forgot to just enjoy the moments and, um, I am now a grandmother, so I’m a brainier grandmother than I was a mom.

Dr. Amy: You’re getting kind of do overs. Right?

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: I’m getting do overs is exactly right. And that’s where I was going with that is, I’ve got five grandchildren who are five and under right now. And I think that’s why being a grandparent is so wonderful is you get to look back and have a do-over. And I know that I did not enjoy every single moment, um, when my kids were little, but it’s hard. And, um, I’m getting the opportunity to do that as a grandma. So now when my granddaughter says, grandma, will you sit with me on the couch? I think, well, sure as heck I can sit with you on the couch because, I’m like, I don’t have anything better than that to do right now. So, um, those are just important.

Dr. Amy: So, if you had a do over, is there a motherhood choice that you would go back and do differently?

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: I think just that. I think it would be to not worry so much about getting things done and just enjoy the moments, take, take the moments as they come. Um, so that’s definitely what I would do over. Excellent.

Dr. Amy: Um, so what is, what book is on your nightstand right now? What are you reading?

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: Really? What book is on my nightstand right now? Um, Eat, Pray, Love is on my nightstand right now and there’s one other one and I can’t think of the name of it. Um, but anyway, Eat, Pray, Love. I read another book by Liz Gilbert, who is the author of Eat, Pray, Love, and loved it. And I’ve read, Eat, Pray Love (affiliate link to purchase on Amazon) before. And it’s just, I think, you know, kind of goes along with this whole self-awareness and growth and, you know, just always being in a growth mindset, um, that I love about it. Right.

Dr. Amy: Um, what is your favorite product or indulgence that you enjoy right now?

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: I would say that my favorite indulgence is something I buy at Costco. It is. Can I go grab it?

Dr. Amy: Yeah!So, while we’re waiting on Dr. Jody to grab her indulgent, um, I just want to apologize to our listeners for the additional noise that you might be hearing in the background today. I am located directly across from the United States Air Force Academy, and they have changed up their flight pattern today and they’re flying directly over us. And so I’ve tried to mute a couple of times as the others have got a cross. Um, but I’ve probably missed a few. Okay. So Dr. Jody is back.

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: Okay. And I didn’t hear any airplanes going over, so that’s good. Um, something I buy at Costco, it’s called Sanders Dark Chocolate, Sea Salt Caramels. (affiliate link to purchase on Amazon) They are so fantastic. And they come in a very big container. So I have to limit myself to two a day. And, um, but they are so worth it.

Dr. Amy: Oh, look at that. It’s in huge a container, y’all

Dr. Jody Jedlicka: It is. They’re so wonderful though. They’re the best thing at the end of the day.

Dr. Amy: Oh, I’ll have to try those. Well, this has been a fantastic conversation today! I’d like to thank my guest, Dr. Jody Jedlicka. If you’d like to hear more from Dr. Jody, be sure to tune into her podcast, The Sisterhood of Success, which she co-hosts with her sister, Rachel. Thanks so much for listening. If you liked our show today, please leave us a rating or review on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast platform and follow us on social media. Until next time, you’re busy moms, we’re busy moms, so we’re out!