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Auditory (hearing) system

If the brain does not process noise accurately then we may be described as over responsive or under-responsive to noise sensation and this will affect our behaviour. We may need more or less noise in our environment in order to help us focus on a task.

If a child has an over responsive auditory (hearing) system, they might:

  • Over-react to school bells, loud noise, thunder, vacuum cleaner, hairdryer, fire drills or sudden noises
  • Place their hands over their ears more often than other children
  • Appear less able to concentrate or focus in a noisy environment
  • Make their own noises more persistently than their peers in an attempt to mask noises in their immediate environment
  • Show frequent startle reactions to noise
  • Notice even small sounds

If a child has an under responsive auditory (hearing) system they might:

  • Not notice when their name is called
  • Enjoy and seek out loud or unusual noises more than peers
  • Have a disregard of sudden or loud noises
  • Not pay attention in a noisy environment or to people
  • Show delayed responses to noise
  • Make noise by tapping, humming or whistling
  • Need noise to increase their levels of alertness

If a child has an over responsive auditory system there are things you can do to help:

  • Play soft, calming music (such as classical music) into headphones to help them concentrate or calm down, make sure the music isn’t playing too loudly through the headphones
  • Allow them to carry out activities in a quiet environment at intervals throughout the day, this might involve them working with a small group of peers outside their main classroom
  • Give them something to fidget with
  • Play ‘white noise’ (which can be downloaded from the internet or phone apps) quietly through their headphones
  • Ask them to wear headphones (without additional noise) or a tight-fitting hat to provide relief from noise

If a child has an under responsive hearing system there are things that you can do to help:

  • Make sure you gain eye contact with your child when you need their attention
  • Understand that your child’s lack of response isn’t necessarily under their control
  • Give them the opportunity to be noisy in a controlled environment
  • Make sure headphones are used at a reasonable noise level to avoid damaging the ear