Auditory avoiders are hyperaware of sounds in their environment and tend to become overwhelmed or distracted by common, everyday noises. Avoiders often have extreme or upsetting reactions to even very mild stimulation. As a result, they can appear withdrawn or defensive and have trouble fitting in with their peers. They also frequently experience symptoms associated with anxiety disorders and engage in repetitive self-soothing behaviors.
See below for some ways to identify and support auditory avoiders .
Auditory Avoiders May:
- Seek out quiet or secluded environments.
- Frequently cover their ears and react to loud or high-pitched noises as if in pain.
- Become easily distracted by background noises others can’t detect.
- Be bothered or extremely irritated by repetitive or specific sounds.
- Be startled and extremely frightened by unexpected sounds.
- Become overwhelmed and frustrated while working in loud, busy environments.
- Engage in repetitive, self-soothing activities, such as rocking or chewing.
How to Support Your Auditory Avoider:
- Use earplugs or headphones when needed.
- Schedule frequent breaks and quiet times throughout the day.
- Give advance warning of loud and unexpected sounds whenever possible.
- Use a visual timer to indicate when unpleasant noises will end.
- Speak clearly and stand directly in front of your child when giving directions.
- Use a fan, white noise, or soft music to muffle background noise at bedtime.
- Be conscious of noisy household items, such as vacuums, dryers, or buzzing lights.
- Create a quiet, safe space at home and include noise canceling and comforting items.
- Work on calming strategies and develop a plan for how to exit overwhelming situations.
Keep in mind that no two children are exactly alike, and most people exhibit both seeking and avoiding behaviors from time to time. If you think your child might be suffering from sensory processing issues, you should seek a professional assessment. The STAR Institute’s Treatment Directory is a great resource that can help you find therapists, doctors, and community resources in your area.