7 year old son with Asperger's /Sensory Integration sound meltdowns
My 7 year old son has Aspergers/SID and has been having severe problems with certain sounds causing him to have extremely emotional meltdowns and erections. He cannot stand whispers, finger snapping, tongue clicking, nose sniffling, or smacking food noises. He immediately screams and goes into almost a rage at screaming for people to stop making noises. To make matters worse is that these sounds also trigger an erection which makes my son even more upset and he will start hitting himself in the crotch and cry out that his pee pee is straight. We've tried talking to him, but it has done no good. We've tried having him count, excuse himself to go to the restroom, or focus on something other than what is going on his pants. He gets extremely angry when his teacher doesn't make the kids stop making noises that bother him. We have told him that it is impossible for him to expect his teacher to control the noises that come from other kids, but he still continues to have these emotionally severe reactions. He will burst into full on tears as if you just slammed his hand in a door. What can we do to help him "get over" these sound issues? We strongly feel the erections he is experiencing are directly relation to his extreme frustration over these sounds.
I have just read a couple of books by Annabel Stehli on this very subject. Auditory Integration Training, 10 days of two 1/2 hour sessons each day of auditory therapy, helped her daugther overcome these issues. Check our her website at: http://www.georgianainstitute.org. She has found long and hard to get this therapy available in the US. Good luck to you on your journey!
I was also going to mention some kind of Sound Therapy.
In the meantime, I bought a pair of DIY ear defenders from the local DIY store for my son to use in school and at home. They may block out some of the noise. My son hates singing.
Out of interest is it the noise itself that bothers him, or does the noise distract him so that he cannot pay attention or focus on what he is doing?
It might also be worth googling Central Auditry Processing Disorder to see if that is also playing a part in his difficulties.
Sensory integration and CAPD do have some similar characteristics.
I have found that my son cannot multi-task from a sensory point of view. So if he is doing something and is interrupted by noise he will get very upset. On some occasions I have spoken to him whilst he was holding a drink and he has dropped the drink. This indicates to me that when I speak to him and he has to listen he somehow loses internal body sensations (eg. proprioception) and therefore cannot maintain holding the glass.
He also cannot listen to the teacher and look at the same time.
And again, this isn't all the time. That is the confusing thing about sensory integration. They can have days when they are doing really great, other days when everything is bothering them, and other days when they run the whole gauntlet of being oversensitive and undersensitive on the same day.
Do you suspect that any of his senses are hypo (under) sensitive. What is his visual sense like?
It might also be worth googling Irlen Syndrome as this is a way of helping with visual perceptual problems (which can be severe such as visual fragmentation, or milder such as problems with sunlight), however the wearing of these glasses can have a calming effect with the other senses as well.
My son has no problem focusing if the task he is doing is something he wants to be doing. He absolutely HATES school. I have thought that maybe he is tuning into these noises specifically because he is irritated being at school, but he will freak out over the noise no matter where we are. He has a nails on chalkboard reaction, stiffens, and either will yell or growl and curl his hands up by his face. His neurologist diagnosed him as Asperger's/SID, but I am going back in to see him in a few weeks and I will bring up the CAPD.
My son does have an off switch. Rubbing the back of his neck very lightly will put him in an almost comatose state.
Our biggest concern is that things are not going to get easier for him as he gets older and we are hoping to try and nip this problem while he is still young.
I like the idea of the auditory therapy. I will research that and bring it to my son's IEP and see if this is something that can be implemented during his speech therapy sessions.
I asked that question to try to distinguish whether it is the actual sound (which it sounds like it is), or whether he is the fact that the sound interrupts his train of thought or actions and causes him to become frustrated.
I think the other thing you have to consider is his school environment. He will need smaller classrooms, he might even need to be taken to a quiet area to complete his work. This difficulty needs to be recognised so that he isn't placed in an autism only unit where there is every chance that there will be other children with autism whose sensory systems are more hypo than hyper and will therefore be sensation seeking - which could involve them making noise. That will send your son up the wall.
But consider the listening therapies, ear defenders, irlen syndrome etc as things to try.
My OT told me that there is medical clinical evidence that a listening therapy called Listening With The Whole Body has results not just sensory wise, but also speech, social interaction, attention and learning. If there is clinical evidence you are more likely to be able to get that therapy for your son through medical channels.
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