My daughter wasn’t always a sensory avoider. In fact, when she was a toddler, she was almost exclusively a seeker. If we went to the beach, she rolled around, covering herself in sand. If we went to a parade, she sat there not bothered in the least by all the fire truck sirens. If the TV was on, the louder the better. If we went to see fireworks, she sat looking at them in absolute wonder. There were times we even questioned if she could hear, because she wouldn’t react at all to loud noises.
I am not sure when things changed, but they did. Big time. Suddenly, every little noise seemed to bother her. On top of that she also become hypersensitive to smell, which is not the greatest thing when your dad has a penchant for ethnic food. Large crowds, of which she was never a fan, suddenly became too much to bear. And don’t get me started on the meltdowns in the car over having to listen to her brother talk. Those automatic flushing toilets? I learned to cover the sensor with a sticky note.
The seeking wasn’t gone, she just went about it in a purely physical way. So now I had a child in both worlds, and things got complicated. I find it really hard to deal with the avoidance side of things. The seeking side is easy. I let her crash into our couches, jump on her bed, swing. But, I can’t remove sound. I can’t stop a siren from wailing. I can’t stop more than two people from being at the store. I am pretty sure the rest of the country wouldn’t be cool with giving up their 4th of July fireworks. And, we all know you can’t silence the chatter of a typical 4 yr old.
So I turned to headphones. I am generally not a fan of making my child stand out more than she already does, but a kid throwing down in public is way more attention grabbing than one sporting a cool set of headphones. So I went online and searched for noise reducing headphones, and hit the jackpot. I found them in pink. Katie might have Autism, but she is still a girl, and I knew she would love headphones if they came in her favorite color. And she did.
These headphones have become our saving grace. She wears them in the car, in louder restaurants, at fireworks, at DISNEY (we wouldn’t have made it through the trip without them). I actually bought 2 pairs, one for home and one for school. She is more calm when we go somewhere because she knows she has her headphones available. I haven’t figured out how to help her with the smells, but at least I could help her with the sounds. One step forward.