WHAT CAN WE DO AS PARENTS TO HELP OUR CHILDREN WITH THEIR SENSORY PROCESSING NEEDS FOR PERSONAL HYGIENE CARES FOR SOUND SENSITIVITIES?
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Some children and adults can have sensitive hearing that may affect their ability to complete personal hygiene self care skills in the bathroom. They may experience ear pain during certain tasks such as the toilet flushing or hearing the hand dryer. How can we help in these situations?
Set up an environment that moves in a positive direction for their sensory system. If the child is sensitive to sound then don’t spend time in loud situations or not for very long and have places in your house that work well for someone that is sensitive to sound. Chose activities where sound isn’t an issue. Realize that some days they will be more sensitive than other days and noise may not affect them as much when the activity is highly motivating to them. Let them regulate the sound. Have hearing checked when it’s appropriate and finding professionals that help with sound sensitivities like occupational therapists or audiologists. Talk with your doctor if you have concerns with your child’s ears.
WAYS TO HELP THE CHLD COPE WITH SOUND SENSITIVITIES:
- Give them Advance Warning that a situation may be noisy
- Help them find a place in the bathroom away from the noisy areas. Remind them about self flushing toilets or automatic hand dryers
- Find ways to help muffle the sounds that affect them. Try over the ear headphones or ear plugs nearby to help, but we do not want to cancel out the sound entirely as this could pose a safety risk.
- Encourage them to use their visual system and focus on what they are seeing. Sometimes it can be hard to discriminate what they are hearing and what is important to listen to. If they can focus on what they are seeing this can help them decide what they are hearing and what is important to listen to.
- Problem solve with other professionals, parents, kids, or teachers. The more we can reach out to others to help our child the more likely we can all help find a solution to help our child. Reaching out for help can help us all think of solutions we may not have thought of on our own.
- Try out new situations and loud situations slowly. If you are going out in public to a new situation, call ahead and find out when they are least busy to help create a more quieter environment. If you are trying out a new situation at home go slowly and explain the new situation to them so they can have an understanding of what to expect.
- Help them learn to advocate for themselves. Help teach them to tell others when the sounds are too loud for them or are upsetting to them. For instance if they are at a friends house and the TV is too loud, teach them how to politely ask them to turn the volume down.
TRY OUT THESE SOUND TOOLS:
- Wearing headphones during tasks that are safe (when water won’t get them wet)
- Try out ear plugs during very noisy situations
- Sometimes a white noise maker on a low setting in the background can help
- Creating a quiet environment in the bathroom (not using hand dryers or flushing the toilet when they are in the room)
- Speak in a quiet tone and do not raise your voice
- Let them use something that is comforting to them during the task. Is there a fidget toy that they enjoy feeling or using that helps calm them?
- Complete deep breathing techniques before beginning the activity to help calm their bodies
- Some people enjoy music and can find this motivating, if they can regulate the sound of the music you could try playing different motivating songs when completing tasks.
- They may also be motivated to earn music or games such as an I Tunes Gift card, Amazon Gift card, or Steam Gift card for completing tasks.
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EXAMPLES OF SOUNDS THAT COULD BE MORE DISTRACTING IN THEIR ENVIRONMENT
- People noise especially where 2 or more conversations are taking place
- Person in one room is talking and another person talking in the next room
- Someone walking around the room when someone is talking to you
- A fly buzzing around
- Washing machine and dryer
- Dish washer
- Air conditioning and heat vent
- Dog or cat
- Taking dishes out of the dishwasher
- All the noises when driving in a vehicle
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