Sound sensitivity, also known as hyperacusis or misophonia, refers to an excessive or abnormal sensitivity to certain sounds. Individuals with sound sensitivity experience discomfort, distress, or an intense emotional reaction to sounds that are generally considered to be harmless or tolerable by others. This can range from mild annoyance to severe distress and can interfere with daily life and activities.
Some common triggers of sound sensitivity include everyday sounds such as chewing, typing, or speaking, as well as sudden or high-pitched sounds like sirens, fireworks, or barking dogs.
How can we help children with sound sensitivities in school?
Here are some ways to help children with sound sensitivities in school:
- Create a quiet space: Provide a designated, quiet space for the child to retreat to when they are feeling overwhelmed by sounds in the classroom.
- Use noise-cancelling headphones: Consider providing the child with noise-cancelling headphones to wear during particularly noisy times in the classroom, such as during group activities or lunch.
- Avoid triggers: Identify sounds that are particularly problematic for the child, such as sudden loud noises or sustained high-pitched sounds, and work to minimize or eliminate these triggers.
- Provide a warning: Give the child a warning before starting an activity that is likely to be loud or cause sensory overload, such as a fire drill or assembly.
- Implement accommodations: Work with the child’s teacher and school staff to implement accommodations, such as a seating arrangement that reduces exposure to loud sounds or allowing the child to leave the room during particularly noisy times.
- Educate others: Educate teachers, staff, and other students about the child’s sound sensitivities and the impact they have on their ability to participate in the classroom.
- Provide support: Provide the child with support and understanding, and encourage them to communicate their needs and feelings.