Many children with processing difficulties, in particular Auditory Processing Disorder, become introverted or quiet in the classroom or workplace because of the at times overwhelming amount of noise or activity. In her recent TED talk and subsequent interview with Kate Torgovnick May, Susan Cain provides some excellent advice on how to deal with and teach introverted students. Here are the highlights!
Our schools and workplaces are designed for extroverts
More and more, classrooms and workplaces are busy, noisy, vibrant places with group desks, group assignments and noisy eating areas. Many teachers are now required to center a large number of their lessons on group work. Yet, up to half the population has introvert tendencies, so why do we think it’s strange when students prefer to go somewhere quiet and work or eat by themselves?
Going to school is an extroverted act, says Cain. “All day long, you are in a classroom full of people with constant stimulation. Even for introverted kids who really like school, it’s still a very overstimulating experience.”
Avoid setting standards for what is normal
If a student has no friends, that’s a problem. But if a student prefers to make a few meaningful friendships instead of hang around in a large group, who are we to judge? We allow adults to have the social life they want, so why not children?
Can comments, “we should identify problems when they are there — like a student who would really love to make friends but doesn’t know how. But at the same time, we shouldn’t make problems when they aren’t there by saying, ‘You should be more social.’ If the kid is perfectly happy the way they are, they need to get the message that the way they are is cool.”
Small changes that can be made in the classroom right now
- Build quiet time into the school day (e.g. 15 minutes silent reading)
- Provide alternatives at recess/lunch, such as playing board games, reading books or just chilling out.
- Mix up classroom work between individual, group and pair work.
- Value classroom engagement, rather than just participation (quality not quantity).
Improve Auditory Processing skills
Trouble coping in noisy environments is often a result of poor auditory processing skills. The Fast ForWord program is a proven, evidence-based program that improves auditory processing – best of all, it is done in the comfort of your home and supervised remotely by speech pathologists. Read more about Fast ForWord …
Ted.com – how to teach a young introvert