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We have two children with sound sensitivity.  We also have a sign on our front door that says: “Please do not knock or ring the doorbell.  Baby Sleeping & Protective Dog!  Leave packages by the door unless signature is required, then knock gently, please.”  What does this tell you?  Apparently it tells the the UPS guy to toss the package at the door and run.

OK, so that only happened once.  I may have chased him down with my 80 lb Sheppard mix.  See, I do have anger management issues.  See my reference here for anger issues.

Sound Sensitivity Twitter Graphic

I made this super cool sign to hang around the doorbell so that these (mostly) amazing delivery people 1) don’t send my little girl into a triggered seizure and 2) don’t get majorly freaked by the enormously loud barking dog, which also sends my baby into a triggered seizure. Notice anything here? Riley is triggered by sudden loud noises.  This is preventive measure number 1.

At the time I made this sign, I had no idea the sound sensitivity in my household.  My husband is pretty much deaf.  Phil never seems to answer a question appropriately, bless his heart.  Me, on the other hand, can’t sleep through the night without waking up because of the amount of noise in our house.

When Riley is awake, sounds can trigger her IS (Infantile Spasms), but it really has to startle her for that to happen.  She’s around her cousins all the time, and they are all loud.  Love them dearly, but put the middle 4 cousins in a room together and it’s a circus.

That brings us to AJ.  My son.  My mini-me.  He’s such a sweet and caring little boy, who is super protective and caring of his little sister.  He just makes the world perfect by being near you.  However, he’s terrified of loud noises.

Thunder makes him scared and instantly cries.  Loud rides at his favorite amusement park make him scared. We took him to the air show in Vera Beach last month and you would have thought we were trying to murder him in front of 1000s of people when we got to watch the Blue Angels perform. Then came a moment I will never forget… and I was traumatized.

St. Lucie County had a safety festival that we were all looking forward to.  What kid doesn’t like to touch a truck?  We walked around for about 10 minutes and a demonstration of the SWAT team was going to take place.  My husband loves everything law enforcement, so it was really fun to see him light up with all the different trucks and gear.  Then the demonstration started.

They said there would be some smoke involved.  What they didn’t say was that there was going to be an actual roadside shooting/hostage taking scenario play out right in front of us.  There was a broken down SUV in the middle of a field and a Sheriff’s Deputy pulled up behind the car, got out as the driver of the car was walking towards the officer and was explaining that the car was not working.

Out of the passenger side of the car, a man with a ski mask and automatic rifle jumped out and started shooting at the deputy, right at us.  Now, I’ve fired a gun before, so I know the sound.  AJ has heard gunfire on TV shows when he walks into a room and something he shouldn’t be watching is on the TV and we couldn’t change the channel fast enough.

This was different.  To a 4-year-old, this was real.  To my 4-year-old, there was a guy who just shot a “good guy” and was shooting towards us and that was the end of our day at the festival.

I took AJ in my arms and got as far away as I could as quickly as I could.  Phil, being the law enforcement geek that he was, stayed with Riley, who slept through the entire demo.

I witnessed my toddler have a full on panic attack.  I’ve had a couple in my life, I know exactly what he was going through.  The problem was that I didn’t know what to do for him, other than hold on to him as tight as could and kept repeating that I was taking him away from this and he was safe. Could I have prevented this from happening?

The easy answer is yes.  I should have known better, we shouldn’t have taken him to such an event knowing his fear of sounds.  The flip side to that is that if we don’t take him into situations where he’s uncomfortable with the sound, how will he ever learn that sometimes there isn’t anything to be afraid of.

Sound Sensitivity PinterestFor instance, the time we took him to the bowling alley and we immediately walked out because it was too loud.  AJ found his manners and everything when he pleaded and begged with me to take him back to the car.

There are ways that we’re working on to help him with this sound sensitivity, and you can help your child, too!

Protect Those Ears!

We’ve purchased ear protection that he can wear in those loud situations… like 4th of July fireworks.  This worked out pretty well at the Vero Beach Airshow last month.  That is, until the Blue Angels came out and then he buried his face in my shirt.  It’s a shame he missed them, I do love a good Blue Angel’s show.  Below is an affiliate link for ear protection:

Give Your Child a Heads Up

Giving AJ a heads up that it’s going to be noisy at something we’re about to do, does help out a little.  He has a lot of anxiety.  Prepping him in advance gives him some time to cope with it, whereas if you don’t give him any forewarning, you can definitely see a difference.

Noise Machines

We have a noise machine that produces white noise, much in the same way as a fan constantly running all night, there’s a sound machine or that.  We’ve had the same one since AJ was born.  This thing has survived falls moves, and pretty much toddler life.  He gets mad when we forget to turn it on. “Mommy, you forgot to turn the noise on!”  He says it in such a stern voice.

This isn’t the exact model, since they don’t make it anymore.  cough cough this is an affiliate link!

Take Walks and Stay Patient!

If you start to notice your child is starting to get anxious because of a loud gathering of friends and family, take a break and go for a walk.  Exercise is not only good for your health but also your mental health.  This applies to the kiddos, as well.

The family is over for yet another birthday, all the cousins are playing and getting louder… and louder.  You notice something off, take that kid outside and walk.  It gives you a chance for not only a breather, but a chance to talk about how all the hubbub is making them feel.

Don’t forget to be patient with this little human.  It’s sometimes really hard for a toddler to process what they’re feeling.  Say reassuring phrases,  like the following:

  • “I know you don’t feel OK, but we’ll get through this together.”
  • “I will help you get through this.”
  • “This will end soon.”

Don’t Rush It

If your child ends up like AJ and has a panic attack, be reassuring that they’re safe, that you’re there, and it will be over soon.  Stay calm, and pass that calm on to your child.  Being their strength while they find themselves again.

What have you learned from your child with sound sensitivity?  I’ve learned that panic attacks suck, so I need to be better prepared.  Let me know what you think, leave a comment below.  We’ll probably do a follow-up post on panic attacks in the future.  It’s still too raw to blog objectively about.

With that, I bid you farewell.  Thank you all!!

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Sara is a mother of two, wife and full-time employee. She's also a parent of a child with special needs.