child wearing noise canceling headphones

Sound Sensitivity: Strategies for Supporting Neurodiverse Children

This article may contain affiliate links

Living With Sound and Noise Sensitivity

Living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other forms of neurodiversity brings its own set of challenges, one of the most common being sensory sound sensitivities. For many children with autism, sound and noise sensitivity can be particularly overwhelming and anxiety-inducing. For example, whether it’s the buzz of a busy classroom, the clang of pots and pans in the kitchen, or the wail of a siren on the street, these auditory sensitivities can trigger a range of reactions from discomfort to full-blown sensory meltdowns.

How To Help Manage Auditory Overload?

Our daughter Elizabeth was diagnosed with autism at age two and ADHD at age five and has a tough time with sound and noise sensitivity. This sensitivity has gradually increased as she has aged. When she was a baby and before her autism diagnosis, she didn’t seem to be bothered by sounds at all. In fact, I truly thought she couldn’t hear, so I had her hearing tested four times! She only usually reacted to really loud sounds and when our small dog barked. That was it!

As she has aged, it was genuinely surprising that sounds and various noises impacted her so strongly. We do not go anywhere now without her headphones because she depends on them so much. She struggles at school in the loud cafeteria and P.E. classes. She wears non-electronic headphones at school because we do not want her to damage her electronic headphones.

We know firsthand, as a parent of a neurodiverse child, navigating the complexities of auditory overload can feel like a never-ending battle. Some sounds you may not even notice are quite bothersome to a neurodiverse person. However, you can help your child manage their sensory challenges more effectively with patience, understanding, and the right strategies.

Elizabeth Loves Her
Noise-Canceling Headphones!

7 Tips To Help With Sound and Noise Sensitivity

  1. Identify Triggers: Every child with autism is unique, so it’s essential to identify specific triggers that set off their noise sensitivity. Keep a journal or chart to track your child’s reactions to different sounds. By understanding their triggers, you can better anticipate and manage challenging situations.
  2. Introduce Sounds Gradually: When introducing new sounds, proceed with caution. Start with less distressing sounds and gradually increase the intensity or volume over time. This gradual approach allows your child to acclimate to the noises at their own pace, reducing anxiety and overwhelm.
  3. Provide Advanced Warnings: Help your child prepare for noisy situations by providing advanced warnings. Whether it’s a fire alarm test at school or vacuuming at home, giving your child a heads-up allows them to mentally prepare and employ coping strategies, such as covering their ears or using noise-canceling headphones.
  4. Utilize Calming Tools: Equip your child with tools to help them with noise sensitivity. Noise-canceling headphones, earplugs, or soothing sounds can immediately relieve overwhelming situations. Additionally, sensory toys like fidget spinners, chew necklaces, or stress balls can help redirect their focus and alleviate anxiety.
  5. Safety First: While it’s crucial to help your child manage noise sensitivity, safety should always be a priority. Teach them to recognize important sounds like fire alarms or emergency sirens and how to respond appropriately. Create social stories or visual schedules to prepare them for emergencies and practice drills to reinforce safety protocols.
  6. Personalize Accommodations: Work with your child’s school or therapist to personalize accommodations that address their noise sensitivity. This may include modifications to their learning environment, such as seating away from loud noises or alternative activities during noisy events like recess or assemblies.

Be Flexible

In addition to these strategies, consider incorporating sound and noise sensory-friendly toys and products into your child’s daily routine.

Remember, supporting a child with autism and noise sensitivity requires patience, flexibility, and a deep understanding of their individual needs.

By implementing these strategies and advocating for your child’s sensory well-being, you can create a more inclusive and supportive environment where they can thrive.

This blog post may contain affiliate links. If you click on these links and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products or services I use and believe will add value to my readers. Your support helps keep this blog running, and I appreciate your trust in my recommendations. Please note that I am not responsible for the content, privacy practices, or services of external sites linked within the blog post.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *