Sensitivity to noise in children


Some children are really sensitive to noise. Everyday situations can become challenging to a child that is highly sensitive to sound.

The next time you are in the supermarket, listen to the sounds. Normal conversation and other low level sounds can be punctured by loud, tinny messages over the in-store tannoy system. Those of us not sensitive to loud noise can easily be irritated by these jarring noises. What about a child who is hypersensitive to sound?

Familiar places can be the source of disruptive noise. Think about an unexpected fire alarm at school. What about your next door neighbour using a drill to put some shelves up? A child with a heightened sensitivity to sound can face challenges in many places.

There are strategies and methods that can help children deal with unexpected noises.

Sounds can be muffled. If a child is going to be in an environment where they may face unexpected loud sounds, earplugs or headphones can offer some protection. Loud sounds will, at the very least, be muffled. It is not a good idea to block sound out completely as this can be dangerous. Also, it is worth remembering that some children don’t like the feeling of some things touching them and they might find earplugs or headphones uncomfotable too.

It is a good approach to plan ahead and anticipate loud sounds. A child can be reminded of what to expect in any given situation ahead of time and a plan put in place to deal with the noise. Are there loud hand-dryers in the public toilets in a restaurant? Plan ahead so that the sound of the hand-dryers is not a shock to the child. They can be encouraged to use a cubicle as far from the potential noise as possible.

Planning and setting clear boundaries is important. If you need to visit a busy supermarket, find out when it is less busy. Also, knowing what to expect in any new place is good. Can you visit the place without your child so that you are able to explain what to expect before the real visit? It’s crucial that your child understands that it is okay to tell their friends that they don’t like something – a noisy game, for example – and would prefer to play something quieter.

In Scary Saturday, a visit to the swimming pool causes problems for Nathan. Part of the problem is that swimming pools can often be very noisy places.