How to cope with noise sensitivity

By Amanda Morin

Kids and adults with sensory processing issues can be highly sensitive to noise. It can make everything from shopping to school fire drills difficult to manage. And unpredictable sounds, like a dog barking or sounds of a certain frequency, can pose an even bigger challenge.

It’s not always possible to avoid this type of sensory input. That’s why it’s important to be aware of how much is too much and to share those limits with others.

For example, the sounds of an action-filled video game may be a stressor. So kids and adults can set boundaries by saying things like, “I like that game, but the sound of the buzzer hurts my ears. Can we turn the volume way down?”

When kids are sensitive to noise, the adults in their life should work together to address safety concerns. Sound sensitivity makes it hard to filter out unimportant sounds. But it can also make it hard to tune in to important ones, like sirens, alarms, and other safety warnings.

Families and teachers can create a safety plan for kids so teachers know what to expect and what to do. For instance, agree on a signal to give advance warning of planned fire drills. Or let kids sit near a door during assemblies so they can slip outside if the noise becomes overwhelming.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Amanda Morin is the director of thought leadership at Understood and author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.” She worked as a classroom teacher and early intervention specialist for more than a decade.