Sensory Processing Disorder – Auditory (Hearing)


I have previously talked about Sensory Processing Disorder and what happens when the brain has trouble filtering out the 7 senses, help understanding sensory modulation and difficulties when this is to do with Tactile (touch) and Proprioception (body position) this time I’m going to talk about problems with the Auditory sense (hearing).

For me this is the most painful to see, with the other types my son seems to get over-stimulated, where as with this he can really cover his ears and seem in pain. Although it also seems to be, for my son, the most short-lived reaction.


Hypersensitivity –  TOO MUCH

• Distressed by sudden or loud noises
• Distressed by sounds that don’t bother others (e.g. phone ringing)
• Cannot focus/ complete a task when there is background sound
• Scared of appliances like lawn-mower outside, blender
• Seek out quiet areas
• Hear sirens, aeroplanes, cars driving past before anyone else
• Vocalise loud/ constant noises (to block out other noises or sounds)
• Might be scared of, or avoid hand-dryers or toilets
What we can do to help
• Warn them when possible if there is going to be a loud noise.
• LABEL the source of the sound e.g. “Johnny does that sound feel loud to your ears? It is the lawn-mower.”
• Give the option of a ‘time out/ quiet corner’ if there is going to be e.g. loud music. My son likes the book corner.
• Give them somewhere quiet to eat their lunch.
• Seat the child away from the door.
• Use fan or background noise to muffle loud/ unexpected sounds.
• Teach the child to hum to block out noise.
• Provide personal ear phones where possible.
• Give them control – like using the vaccuum cleaner.
• Start slowly -Let them help with noisy appliances whilst they are not noisy (like unloading the washing machine), then put the machine on whilst you are with them and warn them about the sounds – maybe start with ear defenders/covering their ears, and slowly build up to them being in front of the machine on their own.
• If they have made an association that something makes a loud sound they don’t like – such as a balloon bursting – then try to get them to play with them, and show them that no harm will come to them.
Hypo-sensitivity - NOT ENOUGH
• Seek out all the toys on the mat that make the most noise.
• Constantly vocalising loudly
• Talk louder than other people
• Like to make a lot of noise (e.g. banging on the table)
• Crave/ respond positively during or after loud music
• Enjoy strange or certain sounds
• Might float aimlessly & not follow your verbal instructions
• Not respond when you verbally tell them instructions
• Appear to ignore others voices
What we can do to help
• Use hand gestures to help get your message across
• Touch them firmly to get their attention before speaking/ giving instructions
• Allow time for noisy play (we have a noisy toy box)
• Where possible- use learning through sound/ music
• Provide lively music in the background during e.g. bathing, getting dressed etc.
• Use extra visual supports- e.g. visual schedule, social story, stand in one place when giving instructions
This is not a sponsored post.

Many thanks to the Children’s Occupational Therapy Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust for supply this information and granting me permission to use it.

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