Sunday, August 23, 2009

Auditory Sensitivity

Tomorrow is the first day of school for my daughter. This gets me to thinking where did the summer go? Then, I reflect back on the 2 vacations we had, the various barbeques and outings we attended as well as the various relatives who came to visit. The summer flew by! During this chain of thoughts, I got to thinking back to the last family vacation we took back in July. Although it was fun overall, I didn't get the best quality sleep. The reason was multi-fold. Who really sleeps that great in a hotel? No matter how nice it is, it isn't the bed you are used to. Another reason my sleep wasn't the best quality, we were overly tired from all of the tourist activities. But I do believe the number one reason was the snoring I endured was the number one culprit to my sleep problem. My sister-in-law joined us on the I had 2 snorers, my husband and her. My husband has been using a CPAP machine and slowly getting used to wearing it, so he doesn't last through the night with it. So, I used the earplugs I brought along, but for some reason I could hear a man (I assume it was a man by the voices I had heard) snoring in the next room over....I have always been unsure of why hotel staff would have the two neighboring rooms with beds along the same wall. I heard these people's late night and early morning (6 am!) conversations in addition to the not so lovely snoring. In the middle of the night when all you want is sleep, you have to wonder if it just wasn't meant to be when you hear 3 people snoring! Now, I am not usually one of those people who can hear ever little ticking of the clock or chirping of a bird.

This did let me get a small glimpse of what the kids with auditory sensitivity go through. No wonder so many of them are grouchy! So many of these children can't tune out the background noises (e.g. lights, other conversations, air conditioner) from the foreground noises (e.g. teacher's voice, TV), therefore all noises seem to be the same volume and intensity. Also, some of these noises are actually perceived as painful to them. Thank goodness I only perceived the snoring as annoying, but definately not painful. These children may cover their ears due to the pain or may shutdown by tuning everyone out. That is why they may not respond quickly when their name is called. They may also seem to be in their own little world. Now, some of these children have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) but many do not. And because of their "shutting down" and tuning people out, they may get wrongly diagnosed. This is one reason it is so important to address the sensory processing problems (SPD), so that the child gets the accurate kind of help. Some of these children may or may not have a central auditory processing disorder (CAPD), but this can only be tested for once the child is 7 years old by an audiologist. There are accomodations to help the child with noise sensitivity (e.g. flush the toilet after they leave the bathroom, change the ringer tone on the telephone, etc.), but that can't help in all environments. Intervention from an occupational therapist or speech language pathologist with training in sensory integration treatment may be necessary. Also, sound therapy may help such as Tomatis, Therapeutic Listening, AIT, and other programs. I am trained in the Therapeutic Listening program and have seen many children benefit from it. These sound therapies not only help with noise sensitivity, they often help with coordination, muscle tone, attention span, and language skills.

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