If your child is sensitive to noises, you probably already have noticed it. Watch his reaction to various noises and keep notes of what seems to upset him and what appears to calm him down. He may not be aware that certain noises bother him. You may see obvious signs such as him running out of the room, putting his hands over his ears, crying, screaming, or crawling under a table. Some children may not be so obvious in their reaction and may display their upset in behaviors that are not so easy to connect to a particular noise. Your child may display a sudden outburst of anger, argue with or hit his sibling, or begin to act up. Taking notes on his behavior and what was happening before it will help you discover patterns of what sets him off.
If the kitchen blender does not bother him, then there is nothing to change. However, if he begins to argue with his brother every time you use the blender, take note that this might be irritating him. Remove, limit, or decrease the sound level of noises that are in your control.
• Turn down telephone ringers.
• Replace doorbell with door knocker.
• Limit using noisy kitchen equipment when your child is at home.
• Avoid noisy, crowded situations.
• Schedule noisy workmen (e.g., gardener, construction) when your child is not home.
For noises that you can anticipate but cannot stop or control, use preparation to help decrease a reaction. Use a plan of warn and distract. Warn him of the noise that will be made, and set him up with a distracting activity. If you know that blow-drying your hair causes your child irritation, set him up in another room with a pleasurable activity and tell him that you will be using the blow-dryer and you know he does not like the noise so he should try to stay out of your bathroom until you are done.
Some ways to distract your child from noises include:
• Watch a DVD
• Play a video game
• Listen to music with headphones
• Listen to a book on tape with headphones
• Go to another room in the house
• Play outside
• Use earplugs
• Use noise-reducing headphones in noisy places such as airports, airplanes, buses