Imagine a constant barrage of annoying, disturbing and downright painful things being hurled at you all day every day.
Pretty upsetting? Want to run for cover?
That’s a glimpse of what it’s like for sensory kids that struggle with auditory issues.
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Both Avoiding AND Seeking?
Like all sensory systems, there are seekers and avoiders.
Avoiders are the kiddos who are hypersensitive to auditory input, so they do all that they can to avoid certain sounds.
They tend to hate crowds because of the onslaught of noise, and don’t even get me started on the terrors of a public restroom.
Seeking kids are under-responsive to certain sounds. They are not registering and interpreting sound accurately. While their ears may be functioning properly, their brain isn’t always handling the information correctly.
It is very hard to tell the difference between a auditory seeker and auditory avoider.
Example: even though an auditory avoider is extremely sensitive to noise, they often prefer music to be loud so that it can drown out other annoying noise.
So while their behavior may seem conflicting, be patient. Their struggles are real.
Strategies to Help
Auditory input is a constant factor at every moment. While you may never be able to give them total quiet, you can give them peace!
The following ideas can help make life a little more comfortable for your child.
- Provide a safe spot in your house that your child can retreat to and feel a sense of protection. Turn a large box or the area under a desk into a fort filled with calming toys, noise reduction headphones, a favorite blanket, and electronics ready to play an audiobook or music.
- Warn your child before turning on loud appliances like a vacuum, or blender.
- Provide “white noise” via a sound machine or internet video.
- Position yourself in front of child before speaking to him. Get her attention, eye to eye if possible.
- Have your child repeat the words that were just spoken.
- Use noise reduction headphones for ear protection. (We could never do fireworks without them!)
Remove the Element of Surprise
Often times it is the unexpected noises that trigger panic. Try your best to remove the unexpected factor and give them a heads up as to what to expect.
Realize that a child may associate certain sounds with certain places and then resist going back to that place. They may refuse to go back to the park where they heard fireworks months earlier.
Remember you can say “no” to certain situations. Play group at an arcade? No way! You can assume he will not do well there, so why not ask for a change in location.
For all the numerous times when those noisy places are unavoidable, remind your child that you understand.
There are things that can make it better or make it worse. So, together as a team, figure out ways to make his life less stressful. Give your child a sense of hope even though it will be challenging.