All the noise, noise, NOISE (updates and sensory sensitivity)


I had intended to update everyone yesterday. The update is that’s it been cold and rainy and we haven’t done much.  Homeschooling continues on, but being the month we wrap up, its been, well, wrapping up. Aidan finished his math textbook, Bee is close to finishing up a grade level in khan academy. We’ve been reading books we didn’t get to and finishing assignments. I’ve been working on paperwork and fretting over my porch.

We’ve had some issues with our porch (repairs and fines and inspectors, oh my). People hammering away on the porch has been noisy. I didn’t think it could get any noisier, until the city decided it was a good time to resurface the street.

Phase one was yesterday, There were huge trucks, jackhammers, and heavy equipment.

Thankfully, we have noise cancelling headphones for when people are experiencing sensitivities to sound.


We don’t need jackhammers going outside to be annoyed by noise.

To several people in this house, certain, pitches or volume of noise is just torture.

It goes beyond being annoying.

It can be painful.

I always felt for the Grinch and his dislike of noise.


Poor fellow, imagine the Christmas morning trauma that could have been avoided with a good set of headphones.

Clinically speaking, sensory sensitivities are a feature of autism spectrum disorder, but not necessarily a defining characteristic.

In  the “restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior” section (I find this an odd category to stick it) it lists:

Hyper- or hyporeactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory aspects of the environment (e.g. apparent indifference to pain/temperature, adverse response to specific sounds or textures, excessive smelling or touching of objects, visual fascination with lights or movement).

While clinicians list this as secondary, people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders have often stated its a major aspect of difficulty in participating in  typical activities social or otherwise.


Recently in her Psychology today column , autistic writer and advocate Lynne Soraya, wrote  “Shopping While Autistic.”, about how even the grocery store can be a sensory assault. Even seemingly everyday sounds can cause problems.  One issue we have with the store are the lights, and the sound system.

We try to work around it.  One child is touch sensitive.  We respect that and don’t force him into hugs. Another is a sensory seeker, he loves deep pressure and is sensitive to smell. Yet another child isn’t a seeker or avoider at all, but certain textures of food are repulsive to him.  While I occasional offer suspect foods to him, I never force him to eat them. Some smells make me feel sick, in other ways I’m a sensory seeker. One of the girls is super sensitive to noise and smell.

I have found that the older I get, the more coping mechanisms I learn. Sometimes it means having a plan to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible, other times it means avoiding situations that aren’t necessary.

Happily, sensory friendly concerts and theatres are now a thing.

A popular theory concerning sensory sensitivity is that over connectivity in the brain leads to a an inability to filter.  Yet there has still been no specific cause found.

While many occupational therapists suggest “sensory diets” its important to consider the specific child’s needs as well as respect. Holding a kid down to brush them with a surgical sponge, or to force hugs is cruel and counterproductive. On the other hand, if a child seems to feel more put together after they swing a bit, having an indoor swing may be helpful. It all depends on the kid.







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