Have you ever been walking somewhere with your child or partner, when suddenly they hear a certain noise and inexplicably start crying? Perhaps it’s not just one sound, maybe it’s multiple things that seem to be upsetting them. However, you just don’t seem to understand what is upsetting them so much.
Well, I’m here to give an insight to what may be going on in their minds!
Back when I was a child, going on a bus was torture for me. As much as I enjoyed the ride itself, I would break into tears the moment the bus began to brake. My parents eventually began to notice a pattern, and would eventually cover my ears every time the bus began to stop.
As soon as the bus stopped, the engine made a sound that, though it would normally go unnoticed by most people, was excruciatingly painful for me to hear.
This is because autistic people process sound very differently to most people. What may go unnoticed by most, can be a painful distraction to autistic people.
Imagine the typical brain. It hears sounds, but is generally able to filter out any noises that are unnecessary to focus on, and focuses only on the more important sounds. However, an autistic brain is more likely to struggle doing that. Autistic people often cannot filter out sounds that most block out.
Suddenly, we’re hearing so many things at once. This may become too hard to handle, and it can end up result in the person having a meltdown, crying, covering their ears, or just remaining frozen in place.
What you can do to help them:
Don’t question it, even if you don’t understand it:
One of the most common issues autistic people face when it comes to sensory issues is people refusing to believe there’s an issue, simply because nobody else is experiencing it. Even if you don’t understand, listen to them and take it seriously.
Learn what sounds they’re more likely to react to:
If they’re crying because of a certain sound, it’s not going to be a one-off thing. Even if they can’t speak, see if you can find a connection to work out what sounds may be bothering them.
If they need to leave, let them:
There’s nothing worse than struggling in a certain place or event and not being allowed to leave. For example, if they’re at a social event, make sure they know they can leave if they need to, or go to a quiet area to calm down.
Let them wear noise-cancelling headphones, or ear defenders:
Noise-cancelling headphones can be one of the greatest things to give to an autistic person. While it of course won’t cancel out other sensory issues, it’ll at least make sounds a lot easier to process and cope with.
Let them stim if it’s safe:
Stimming is a repetitive action a lot of autistic people do to express emotion, or to cope during stressful situations. If they stim to cope, there’s nothing wrong with it, as long as the stim in question is safe.
Got any other questions? Leave them in the comments, and I’ll try to get in touch as soon as I can!