Friday, June 3, 2011

What was that?

"What was that?" Our younger son says this all the time.

I distinctly remember him nervously saying it when he was little and we were waiting in one of the many doctor's office he frequented for his brachial plexus injury.

"What was what?" I would respond. He always appeared so nervous.

"Out in the hallway. What's that sound?" He would say.

Most of the time, I would have to struggle to pinpoint the source of his anxiety--a copy machine, footsteps, someone tapping a pen or pencil onto a counter top. Once the source was identified, he could relax.

Actually, both of our sons have incredible hearing. Many people with autism do. Their sensory systems respond to stimuli in different ways than most people. Any of the senses can be over or under reactive in a person with sensory disregulation.

Our older son cried. He cried at everything due to his hearing. When he was old enough, he'd stick his fingers in his ears. He wasn't able to ask about noises, so he'd just run from them. We spent his entire toddler-hood chasing after him. So, why is it that I did not tumble to the fact that our younger son had autism when he, also, started asking nervously about sounds that practically none of the rest of us could hear?

"What's that sound, mom?" he said not too long ago. "The one that's going 'Click. Click. Click.'?"

I looked around the kitchen. For the life of me, I couldn't see it. But then, out of the corner of my eye, through the glass door to the back yard, I caught it. Our dog was scratching at his collar, and his tag was rubbing against the collar's buckle, making the clicking sound our son had mentioned.

I should have tumbled to the fact that something was "going on" with him. Yes, I DID know that this trait was part of autism. But I just figured since he was so verbal that his hyper sense of hearing was a residual shadow effect of autism that he had, just a little drop that he got whereas his brother got the entire ocean.

I was wrong.

I bet nobody really understands just how many times that buzzer sounds during a basketball game unless someone you are with has hyper-sensitive hearing. Even the echo of voices in the fellowship hall of a church can be too much. One son likes to run a fan at night to block out noises. The other son is offended by the sound of fans. That battle is a whole lot of fun when the house is awake on sleepless nights. Grrrrr.

Having two children struggling with this issue means that we as parents are dealing with two different threshold levels. Basically, we don't attend many things as a family--if at all. However, having children with hypersensitive hearing means that they will always hear people sneaking up on them at the playground. :) And, they will never have to work hard to hear the good things in life, such as their mother telling them that she loves them.


  1. I think one of the things I love most about your blog is that you teach along with sharing your life with we "readers". It's going to be worth money, Amy!!! Keep it coming!

  2. LOL! If you can find a way for this to make money, I'll arrange for some of the proceeds to go to UNYFEAT!

    It's such a compliment to say that I have anything of worth to teach another mom. This is a hard life. Medical science doesn't know enough to guide us. As parents, we are feeling our way and trying to like mad to fight for our children and their future. How do you stay sane along the way? I'm not sure that I have! LOL!

    I AM at the point in this journey, however, where I think that it would be a shame to keep our struggles behind closed doors. If I can live in the open and think out loud as I rear my kids, maybe someone with similar struggles can suffer a little less by avoiding some of my pitfalls.

    Thank you for your support, Ann. I greatly appreciate it!