This blog has been designed to help people learn about effective, simple treatments for attention deficit disorder, autism, auditory processing disorders, dyslexia, and even challenges learning a new language.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What is hypersensitivity like in real life?

Same two questions. First, let me explain that we use the word "hypersensitive," but we mean in most cases, "painful." Imagine you're sitting peacefully on your sofa, reading a book, when someone comes into the room without you realising and turns on the computer. The computer's volume had been accidentally turned up very loud the night before, so when the computer boots up, the welcome greeting jingle is LOUD!! How high did you jump? How fast is your heart beating??

Okay... you calm yourself down and go outside for a bit. You're immersed in your book again, when suddenly, your neighbour starts his mower, inches from where you're sitting! How high this time? How fast is it beating?

Go back inside. Calm down. Relax. OY!! What's that?! A helicopter is landing on your roof!! It's so loud, and you can't get away from the sound! Maybe if you sit in your closet with your hands over your ears, it'll be easier to tolerate....

Living with hypersensitive hearing can be very difficult. For the hypersensitive (aka hyperacute) person, an airplane in the sky can sound like the helicopter on your roof. The lawnmower down the street may sound like the one next to your ear. And every time the computer turns on, with the volume down low, it sounds as startling as did the one in our story. What's more, the list of things that could be perceived painfully loud goes on and on. And on. Washing machines, blenders, timers, garbage disposals, vacuum cleaners, hand dryers (in public restrooms), babies crying, people with high voices (young kids, women), certain songs, the air coming through an open window, people chewing, people snoring, people rustling the newspaper, and so many more.

Here are some signs to look for:
  • covering the ears
  • leaving the room
  • avoiding someone/something before they make noise
  • hitting babies
  • crying unexpectedly (if you tune in to the noises in the environment, you may notice something new in the background that might be overwhelmingly in the foreground for your child)
  • visually inspecting a room before entering
  • startles easily
  • complains of things and voices being too loud
  • hides in enclosed spaces
  • turns off fluorescent lights (which hum)
  • alerts to new noises, such as the refrigerator fan or heater turning on


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