|If you have sensitive ears, loud or shrill noises can cause|
I remember covering my ears and crying... sometimes not even because I had heard a loud noise, but because I was afraid that I might hear one. For instance, I didn't really like playing with balloons or even having them in the house, because they might pop.
This went on until I was well into grade school. My ears got a little less sensitive over time, so I could handle vacuum cleaners, airplanes, fireworks, etc. But particularly loud or shrill noises still cause me pain! I have never been to a rock concert, even though I love music, because I would not be able to handle the noise. I used to have a friend who loved to go see live bands playing in bars, and she insisted on us standing right in front of the stage. I couldn't enjoy the music because it was too painful, and I definitely couldn't converse with anyone over the loudness!
And you know how sometimes at loud places people put their mouths right up to your ear and yell to you? If you do that to me, I may punch you in the face. I won't mean too... but it hurts so badly, I just need to get you away from my ear!
When I hear very loud or shrill noises, it is almost a physical sensation, like wind blowing right into my eardrums. It also hurts inside my head. It is kind of hard to explain. All I can tell you is, it is a very unpleasant feeling that makes me want to get as far away from the noise as possible! Also, in instances where I did have to stay around a loud noise for a long time (such as when I went to the bar with my friend and listened to live music right by the stage) for hours or even a day afterwards I would feel dizzy and kind of sick.
The reason I was thinking about this today is because I used to think this problem was something kids with autism spectrum disorders dealt with, but I have learned that kids with other special needs often have sensitive ears as well. I've been substituting in a special education class for a few weeks now. The kids there, fourth and fifth graders, have either autism, learning disorders, or intellectual disabilities. Many of them also have very sensitive ears.
Today there was a special event in the gym, for all of the fourth and fifth graders in the school, including the kids in my class. It was basically a relay race where kids rode on those square-shaped scooter boards around a circle. It was boys against girls.
The other assistant in the classroom was absent and had no substitute, so I was in charge of taking four of the kids from my class down to the gym. (The fourth graders were participating at a different time.) One of the kids was a girl I'll call Myra, She has a mild intellectual disability, and is also mostly nonverbal due to a physical difference in her mouth. The other three kids with me were boys, one of whom had autism.
Since three of the kids I was with were boys, I was standing on the boys' side of the gym. The three boys were cheering, having fun, and participating. All of the kids were screaming and jumping up and down. The noise was deafening, and a few times I put my hands over my ears to get some relief! But none of the three boys, including the one with autism, seemed bothered by it at all.
I looked over at the girl's side of the gym to check on whether it would be Myra's turn soon. But Myra was not standing in line with the other girls. She was huddled on the floor in a corner, with her hands over her ears!
I rushed back to the classroom to grab a few pairs of the sound muffling headphones we keep around... some of the kids use them to help them concentrate while they do classwork. They look just like the bulky headphones you can use to listen to music or play on the computer... except, at further inspection, you'd notice that they don't have a cord to plug them into anything. I ran back to the gym to offer a pair to Myra, who happily put them on. They did help with the noise... but Myra still didn't want to participate in the games. It was just too overwhelming.
I offered the other pairs to the three boys, but none of them wanted any. So I tried on a pair myself. What a relief they brought to my very strained, ringing ears! I wish they had had those when I was a kid!
The fourth graders did the same event right after us. One boy named Artie came back to class afterwards, with his hands on his head, actually crying, because the noise had been so bad. Artie has a learning disability but is more socially aware than some of the other kids. The noise had been torturing him, but he hadn't wanted to leave or wear headphones, because he so badly wanted to be like all of the other kids. He forced himself to stay for the entire event, but as soon as he returned to the classroom he was crying silently, holding his hands over his ears and head.
So many activities in our society involve being as noisy as possible. We listen to music at top volume. We scream when we're excited. At sporting events, we hoot and holler. (And by we, I mean you, because I don't do any of those things! LOL!) Children and adults with sensitive ears sometimes have to miss out on things that they probably would have enjoyed, because of the noise. Myra missed out on participating in the relay race with her peers. Artie participated, but it caused him a lot of pain and distress.
I wish it was socially acceptable to walk around wearing those sound muffling headphones! I can even think of a time a few years ago when my dad and I used to go bowling every Saturday night. It was at a time where they turned the music up loud and turned the lights down. People around us would be screaming and shouting. It wasn't quite painful for me at that point, but it bothered my ears a lot. I wished I could wear headphones, and I even suggested it, but my dad said I would look weird and he'd be embarrassed. I tried foam ear plugs, and they did help a little bit.
Do you have sensitive ears? How do you cope with it?
By the way, if you haven't already, please take my survey! It is anonymous and easy. I am going to publish the results on my blogaversary in April!