Northampton Press

Thursday, January 23, 2020

NAHS junior, Girl Scout tackles APD awareness campaign

Wednesday, April 17, 2019 by CONTRIBUTED ARTICLE in School

What is auditory processing disorder? That’s what one local Girl Scout would like you to know.

Lena Kugelman, Northampton Area High School junior pursuing her Girl Scout Gold Award, is tackling the issue in her community. Lena’s awareness campaign kicks off 6-8 p.m. April 24 at Siegfried Elementary School when she will hold the first of several information nights in elementary schools within Northampton Area School District.

Other events will be held 6-8 p.m. May 2 at Moore Elementary School; 6-8 p.m. May 20 at George Wolf Elementary School; and 6-8 p.m. May 29 at Lehigh Elementary School.

Auditory processing disorder is a neurological disorder in which a listener has difficulty interpreting sounds, most notably speech. It’s a disorder she is quite familiar with because she was diagnosed with the condition at 6 years old.

“My goal is to help other children and families learn more about APD because it was a struggle for my family to get a diagnosis,” Lena said.

Lena noticed over the years whenever she mentioned auditory processing disorder, no one had ever heard of it, including many teachers and parents. Lena’s information nights enable parents and children to learn more about the disorder, its signs and symptoms, how to get a diagnosis and how to develop self-advocacy skills in children.

She has partnered with the audiologist who diagnosed her, Dr. John Page, a local, retired audiologist and specialist in auditory processing disorder. With Page, Lena will conduct question-and-answer sessions at the events. A team of volunteers will also be on hand to work with children and parents. Lena plans to develop a digital presentation, aimed at educators and parents, which will be accessible through the NASD website later this year.

“I’m starting with NASD, but I hope to expand my project into other local school districts, too,” Lena said. “I want to share my personal experiences with APD. Young children can’t always express what is troubling them. I had issues in preschool that, in hindsight, we could attribute to APD. But at the time, we didn’t know what APD was. A school guidance counselor brought it to my family’s attention when I reached kindergarten, and we still think of how grateful we are that she knew about APD.”

Through accommodations and coping skills, Lena is now a successful student. Working on her Gold Award project is a culmination of years of Girl Scout accomplishments.

Lena also earned her Girl Scout Bronze and Silver awards. Her Silver Award project, which focused on bullying and diversity, earned her a Young Heroes Award from the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia. She will be honored next month by the Union League of Philadelphia with the Good Citizen Award.