As we come to terms with our 4.5yr son being gifted there is one issue - sensitivity to noise which is still something we find hard to deal with. I understand this can be something that gifted kids can have.
I'm just wondering if anyone has come up with good strategies to deal with this issue.
Once our son has decided that the nose is too great he totally loses control and screams until we leave (most recent was at Te Papa when a brass band started up in the foyer unfortunatley the museum is open from the ground floor so we couldn't even change floors to stay and look!).
Its not a huge issue and one that we try to deal with by leaving as quickly as possible however it also affects him when we are going to go somewhere new he will often ask what the noise levels will be like and can be quite anxious until he has determined himself that it's ok.
Our 5yr old gifted son is very sensitive to noise. School has been a real issue
especially because of assembly, noisy playground, class room, bell etc.
When we were out somewhere we would let him wear ear muffs if he was nervous or anxious over noise. He would usually use them only for a bit and then decide to take them off once he was use to it.
His school asked us to provide earplugs for him, especially for assembly. They work a little bit seem to dull the sound and he doesn't get quite as anxious over going. I also put stickers on his hands to try and get him to focus on that and distract him...it's hard as there are noisy situations everywhere and we can't always be there to support them.
I am an adult with sensitivity to noise.
The bad news is that I haven't grown out of it!
The good news is that I understand it more, and the sensitivity is more specific.
I would suggest these things:
1. Earplugs are a very good idea. Not only do they cut down the noise but also give the person some control over what is happening. As well as having earplugs in his pocket, I suggest teaching your son how to block his ears by pushing on the small flap of cartilage that is just in front of the ear canal (toward the cheek). Pushing gently on this closes the canal, without sticking the fingers "in" the ear. This is faster than putting in earplugs, and is a socially acceptable response to too much noise. (It is not so good for ongoing noise, in which case use earplugs)
2. Focus on something. If you block your ears as above, your breathing becomes audible, as does your heartbeat. Concentrating on steady breathing is a useful way to shut out mega-sound input, and this is most useful in "emergency" situations!
3. See if you can narrow down the scenarios in which your son has noise-overload problems. Is it sudden noises, like bells? or in crowds, where there is a lot of movement going on as well? For "crowd-type" noise, I suggest visual focus on a small, still object, because the agitated crowd seems to make the noise load worse.
As I write this, my 15yr old son is sitting in the lounge doing something on his computer, wearing a pair of industrial ear muffs to block out the sounds of my typing on my computer, his sister making a drink in the kitchen, and road noise from the street! He's always been noise sensitive and this is one thing he finds really hard about school - noise in the classrooms and noise all around at breaks. Now that he is in his teens, he copes throughout the day when he is at school, but when he gets home he just wants silence - or as close to it as he can get (hence the ear muffs!).
Yes, earplugs/muffs have worked for us in the early days. My daughter, now 7 years was very sensitive to noise - she has largely 'grown out' of it (probably more become desensitised to it with rather insensitive parents) but a night at the sprintcars or fireworks is still quite a challenge for her. We find at this age she is easier to reason with and tell her to put her hands over her ears. We make light of it and tend to tactfully ignore her (as with her breath holding when she was smaller - she would hold her breath in the car until she almost passed out). The more attention she got the worse the problem until we couldn't go anywhere without a drama. This approach may not work with everyone but the world is full of noise so it's something she has to learn to deal with.
My daughters are the same. So am I. Certain bass notes make me physically sick and even in my 40's I still have acute hearing and perfect pitch. Loud noises I avoid wherever possible. Bass sounds annoy me and some frequencies I find singing a third above helps.
When I was younger people telling me that it wasn't loud made me feel like a freak. Fireworks actually hurt my ears. It wasn't just loud it was excruciating pain. I was constantly amazed that other people didn't complain.
Nowadays I seem to have a built in radar for volume levels. It is amazing how loud everyday things are and how damaging.
My husband still gets embarrassed at my being sick or retching with noise. I just live with it. There is no way you would get me close to fireworks or anywhere near motor sports.
We have the same problem with our 3 year old. He freaks when a police car goes down the road on the other side of our subdivision and as for the ice cream van pulling up outside our house - nightmare!! He particularly hates sudden noise - like clapping.
Our older daughter does seem to have grown out of it (or at least become used to it) so we are hoping that the same will happen here - we teach him to put his hands over his ears until the noise has gone or go inside where he can't hear it - not always that easy.
Yes earmuffs absolutley! And if there is a preferred noise use that to cover it. Our DS wore earmuffs to bed at night on rainy nights as a tiny tot so the sound of the rain didn't 'hurt his ear'. He has adapted to the sounds now and knows what and how to avoid most noises he can't cope with. He has grown to find (some) music soothing and now prefers the radio on to cover many of the noises he can't cope with.
Little brother it seems, has the same sensitivity to noise and extreme awareness of visual surroundings and being somewhere different- at least we are aware of it this time and have more strategies up our sleeves.
As a teacher I have been searching for answers also. Here's what I have discovered.
* In each case that I have dealt with the children have been gifted.
* They have all been boys.
* Two came from the same family.
* One could not pretend. Everything was factual.
* One was uncoordinated and walked without moving his arms.
* Whenever the class was noisy or we played loud music they sobbed.
* Sudden noise caused was worst.
What worked best.
1) Anticipate loud noise if you can (eg. drums in music) and prepare the child. I would say now get ready here comes the loud part. * would cover his ears.
2) I use controlled breathing. I have had 100% success with this. When sobbing, hold them by putting one arm around their back/shoulder and the other on just below their neck on their chest. Say now I want you to hold your breath and I will count to see how many seconds you can hold it. Tell them to push their tummy out when they breath in. Holding their breath helps stops the quick breathing and slows the heart rate (like in relaxation). It also gives them things to focus on which is really important. They like the challenge of beating their last score. I have also used this method with children who suffer from anxiety or who have concerns when exercising.
What DOESN'T work. Saying.. stop that, get control of yourself or ignoring it.
Hope this helps.
Re the post from teacher anon - how fantastic to see teachers out there looking for solutions to this. I like the controlled breathing idea too.
We have two family members with extreme sensitivity to noise - such that some environments have to be avoided entirely. Both are female btw. One is my youngest child, the other myself. We both find noise very hard to cope with. For my child, a lot of noise - lots of talking in a classroom for instance is very difficult. For me, I can't cope with that type of noise, but, the worst is background noise or white noise. It winds me right up. My kids know to 'check' with me before doing things such as turning on fan heaters. Gives me time to get away. Even the fridge is awful - once that hum is inside my head I can't get it out. Noise drives me insane.
Sometimes both my child and I need to just remove ourselves from the noisy environment.
Interestingly, my hearing isn't the best. It's not that the noises are too loud, I just hear them and can't switch them off.
I love the sound of running water though - a stream, the ocean. My husband once bought me a water feature so that the noise of the water would take my attention and distract me from the noise of the fridge, computer, etc. I think this is a fantastic idea, if you can find one that works. We had to take ours back as all I heard was the 'hum' of the motor - and the hum made me want to run screaming. Poor hubby - he thought he'd found a solution ....
Sensitivity to noise can indicate Auditory processing Difficulties which can usually be addressed quite well. This situation generally occurs in folk who have normal hearing but for whom competing sounds or loud sounds are periced with increased difficulty or as painful.
you don't need a referral, you can just contact an Audiologist who has experince with APD and ask for a check . Be aware that not all clinics are equal though so check around. Sound Skills in Auckland is the leader in this field. Dilworth clinics also do a good job
I am also sensitive to noise .... I decided the problem was NOT my ears - the problem is what we are doing to our environments .... too 'little' noise is as problematic as too much ... my brain is 'set' to process information at an optimal level for my brain and if there isnt enough ..... it turns up the volume on what is available.
As a keeper in soccer I could 'hear' the difference between a ball the striker kicked directly at me and one kicked to my left or right .... so much easier to be in the right place at the right time with both eyes and ears providing information.
With tones of voice its a mixed blessing .... hearing people HISS at you when no one else around you can hear it can be ummmm 'difficult' ... as can hearing when someone is looking you straight in the eyes and telling you they 'really are your friend' in a lie tone. And when you dont realise that your hearing is different, so cant explain - well people can become afraid of you and attribute your ability to 'perceive' as some 'supernatural' quality.
Remarkably - I do believe that my brain still has the 'volume turned down' on the sounds in my environment .... I believe that because, just at that moment when my conscious mind stops working actively as I am right at that point between awake and asleep, I can hear how startlingly loud noises actually are 'raw and unfiltered'.
I decided that even if we dont notice how loud the world really is, it cant be good for us and adapted accordingly.
I made a conscious decision to respect myself and my person - that included respecting my senses (mutli-sensory sensitivity) treating them well and using them purposefully.
This is where working with 'very misunderstood' individuals who require my FULL attention (not just emotionally and intellectually but also all my senses tuned into them) is not just beneficial to them but to me as well .... it all comes 'into sync' and allows me to perceive, understand and problem solve in a more unique way ..... its like being 'in the zone'.
The same traits that make me stressed and often irritable if I try to 'live a normal life' are the traits that make me so useful to many who actually need someone with those qualities .... many of them are children so the way I see it is quite simply that they are more important than any 'discomforts' I may experience.
I have no doubt that much of my intelligence is a direct result of those sensitivities - both in respect of neuro-cognitive stimulation resulting in advanced development and in respect to making more information available to me in order to learn.
I now regard them as functional, healthy and useful and would not be without them for anything.
I was googling child noise sensitivity and came across this board which is so helpful!
My son is 4 and has had varying noise sensitivity since he was an infant, when we could not sneeze without him bursting into tears. It's been a lot better since, but at 4 it has really come out lately where it affects him in preschool and sunday school. He does NOT like groups because of the noise, even though to me they are not extremely noisy, just a little noisy. I am so glad I read this, and he is gifted as well, so that is a really interesting connection I had not made.
Does anyone have suggestions for helping him be comfortable and participate in group activities? We are getting ready to start him in tball, and he LOVES playing baseball but I am concerned the noise level may may this less fun for him?
Blair, basketball is great played on a wooded floor. Our child explained to us why the sound is less on the wooded floor vs the concrete path. Something to do with atoms smashing together inside the ball and the different structure of wood and concrete. Of course like all budding young physicists I was also given a lecture on velocity...nothing is straight forward in our home! Scientists love to sort out problems and to tinker. Let him tinker with the noise dose and let him rip with a basketball! On saying that we have only been to one Breakers game because the crowd noise too much.
My biggest problem is ease dropping on very quiet conversations. Those nosey-body ears just keep picking up everything!
But in all seriousness you may find there is a problem with pitch. Eg a diesel engine train at 100dba maybe more comfortable than a hum in the back of your TV. You will find that the sensitivity doesn't stop with noise... smell, texture of food in month and emotional sensitivity seem to go together.
I remember my 2 year old telling me that it hurt his ears when it rained. I was so saddened by this because until then I had not understood at all just how sensitive his ears really were. He slept with earmuffs on which was really helpful, and we always had them on us if we new there would be sounds that might be an issues. Interestingly it was only certain sounds, and
I as an adult experience similar issues, not with pain but I feel physically ill with seemingly harmless noises, especially if tired. Thankfully our son has grown out of the painful response and seems really happy. I have a friend who is sensitive to the sound the wi fi makes, and the high pitch of a tv on stand by bugs me. So it seems to be very dependant on what a person is receptive too. I find the mention of the connection of sensitivity to auditory processing disorder interesting as this is something I have thought about as both my son and I have trouble taking in verbal information. Does anyone know if APD can be genetic?