How to cope with a Child on the Spectrum who is Sensitive to Loud Noises

Have you noticed your child with autism covering their ears, complain of headaches or discomfort when in large groups or at loud restaurants? Do you notice them having meltdowns when they hear the sound of a vacuum, or a power tool turning on, or a car alarm going off? If you have noticed this in your child, they may be suffering from auditory sensitivity.

Children with auditory sensitivity can experience pain from the throbbing and pulsating noises they hear around them and this can interfere with your child’s activities, so much so, that they can become paralyzed with pain or feel like running away due to sensory overload. This type of sensitivity can limit your child from social interactions with family, friends and peers, so hereare a few ways to ease this discomfort and help your child cope with loud noises when they are in social settings.

1. The most obvious choice is to get your child a set of noise canceling headphones and to bring them with you whenever you anticipate being in a social setting where they noise can be too much for them to handle. This will block the noise enough to allow them to hear, but not beuncomfortable with the loud sounds around them. When you are prepared ahead of time you make it so that the noises do not intrude in your day to day life.
2. Monitor your child’s behavior and pick up on what triggers the sensitivity to noise is also an important thing for a parent to pay attention to. Once you know what triggers their behavior (headaches, pain, meltdown etc) you can assess the situation ahead of time and know if they will be able to cope with their auditory sensitivity by using a pair of headphones or ear buds, or if it an activity that you should avoid to keep them comfortable.
3. Find quiet zones wherever you go. When a child on the spectrum needs a break from loud noises, it is important to be able to take them out of a situation before it gets to the point of a meltdown. By creating a designated quite zone you are making sure that they can get away when they need to and then come join the activities again when they are feeling up to it. If you are in someone home, this might be a bedroom away from the noise. If in a public area or outdoor space, this may even mean taking them back to the car for a little while and allowing them to listen to some soft soothing music to calm their nerves. Wherever you go, make sure you know a good place to escape the noise.

With the wonderfully hot summer months upon us and kids running around everywhere (at camp, on the beach, in the parks, the malls and the kids play places), these tips are sure to make things easier on you and still allow your child with autism to join in on the summer fun, but also find a place to escape the noise when they need a break so that their auditory sensitivity doesn’t get the best of them, or you.