Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sound Sensitivity and Indoor Water Parks

This is what Paige looks like at indoor water parks... her hands never come off of her ears.

Out of all of the sensory issues that Paige's battles on a daily basis, sound is the worst, by far.

She was 3 when we visited a hotel/indoor water park for the first time. It was a very small one, which only had a few slides. We figured she would have a blast since she loves water so much, but we never took into account the noise level. Needless to say, day one of the first indoor water park visit ended in a major meltdown. We continued our stay and tried the water park in short bursts the next day. Even though she hated the sound, her love of playing in water overrode her sensory issues.

We've been going to hotel/indoor water parks almost every year since that first visit. She really loves it but we still can't stay in there the whole day. This past visit we tried to get her to lower her hands in hopes that she would get used to the noise. No such luck.

I take that back... only once did I get her to lower her hands.... just long enough to snap the picture.

Hands on ears aside... we love seeing her so happy!

At least she no longer melts down at the end of a day at the water park. Here she is with her brother, right after swimming all day.


terri w/2 said...

Ahhhhhh yes, the dreaded sound sensitivity! My daughter has her hands over her ears for parades, fireworks, pretty much everything that makes loud noises. It is pure distress for her. She perseverates for 2 weeks prior to the 4th of July knowing that the fireworks are coming (even though she doesn't go, she can still hear them). .and also the firecrackers in the neighborhood. When she was little, whistles of trains in the distance made her crazy, also balloons (because they MIGHT pop), the sound of snowmobiles in the distance annoys her. When she is in a loud environment, the look on her face - it's as if she is just completely bewildered by it all. . .I would love to be able to step into her body and find out just how loud these sounds really are to HER.

Interestingly, she can blast her rock music in her room though. . .I asked her neuropsych why this is tolerable while so many other noises are not. Answer? She can control the rock music volume.

While on vacation this summer, my friend and I met a sound technician for a band. He said that he has incredibly good hearing and that this job was a natural for him. He claimed that he is able to hear things most others cannot. .such as an insect hitting the outside door. . .he was an interesting albeit a little off-the-wall guy - mid-30's, kind of a drifter type. I asked him if he was a preemie, he said "how did you know?" He was born 7 weeks early. My friend who was with me at the time, is an audiologist in a large school system, and certainly does see these types of sensory integration disorders among former preemies quite frequently.

Helen Harrison said...

My son, Ed, too!

It amazes me that this incredibly common problem is not recognized in follow-up studies, since it is so disruptive to our children's (and our) lives.

I once mentioned it to a highly renowned group of premature infant follow up experts -- psychologists, neonatologists, neurologists, etc. and they all looked at me as if I were nuts.

But it seems that every parent on every preemie-list or blog has a set of horror stories to tell about sound sensitivity.

DH and I cannot have a conversation in the same room with Ed (especially if we are laughing).

And of course there are so many places we simply can't take him...On the other hand, a Rolling Stones concert is his idea of heaven. So is having three or four different music/noise sources on loudly at once in his room...

Ed particularly hates high pitched children's voices, and it was really a difficult -- sometimes dangerous -- situation when his cousins (both under the age of 3) came to visit for the greater part of August.

Ed goes to a special school four days a week where many of the other children/adults have this same problem. Ed's teachers tell me that whenever a fire engine or ambulance pass the school the "kids" dive under the tables and hold their ears. Yet Ed is the only preemie there.

Sound sensitivity seems to be common with certain kinds of brain damage, even without prematurity.

medrecgal said...

Nice to know I'm not the only one with this problem...I always said I could completely relate to my poor cats who ran and hid in the farthest corners of the house on July 4th.

It may also explain my distaste for places people normally consider "fun", like sporting events, bars, busy malls and parties. Way too much going on in terms of sensory stimulation. I'd much prefer a good book, a museum, or a movie at home where I can control the volume and nobody else is around to be a distraction. A recent attempt to see a movie in the theaters was marred by a young boy who talked and ran around through the entire picture; I was ready to walk down front and escort him out myself if I thought I wouldn't have gotten in trouble for it.

My current job is terrible in this regard; sometimes the sensory overload makes me want to run and hide in the back room just to get some relief. But they don't understand that. I'll be glad to leave that behind, to be sure!

Carla said...

My daughter is deathly afraid of fire trucks and ambulances because they "hurt" her. I'm assuming she means the noise hurts her ears because when they get loud during parades and such she covers her ears and screams as if being tortured. She also runs from the vaccuum cleaner; her brother used to scream and throw terrible fits, but is usually OK now.

future of hope said...

Mechanic/shooter ear protectors! They make them in both head-phone type and ear-plug type. I keep a pair of the head-phone kind looped over the head-rest of my son's chair, and they really have opened up the world for him. The ones that I have are not designed to block all sound, just muffle it. He can still hear what is happening around him, but his ears are protected from the full force of the noise. With them he is now enjoying things such as theater movies, fireworks, and hockey games. He is even tolerating his brother's band concerts. I was concerned at first that it would be something else that would set him apart, but in reality it is something that has allowed him to engage more.

Anonymous said...

what does perseverate mean?

terri w/2 said...

To perseverate means to have an inappropriate persistence or repetition of a thought or action. Perseveration is often seen in disorders such as autism - the child gets "stuck" on a thought and talks or worries about something repeatedly and inappropriately. Perseverations often intensify under stress.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I'd never heard that word before.

23wktwins'mommy said...

Yaaay good for Paige! She is so beautiful and looks like she is having a lot of fun. Moments to cherish :)

3 good eggs said...

Paige is just absolutely beautiful. Those eyes are fantastic!

Jennifer said...

Gosh Stacy, she has amazing eyes!

Looks like the little guy was enjoying his ice cream too! :)

The Preemie Experiment said...

future of hope said...
"Mechanic/shooter ear protectors! They make them in both head-phone type and ear-plug type."

Paige has the ear plug ones. They are foam and mold to the inside of her ear. They have been wonderful for her and allowed her to experience many aspects of life that would normally be off limits.

We also use a CD player with headphones for noisy places. This way she can turn on her music and drown out the crowds.

As she has gotten older she has gotten much more tolerant of certain noises. But, the noises that she cannot easily identify or the ones which she cannot tell when they may stop, still cause her a lot of stress. Also, sudden noises are still hard on her.

And, just like others have said about thier own children... Paige is an incredibly loud child. She is always the loudest in the room!!

Thanks to everyone who commented on Paige's eyes. When she was smaller, people used to stop us in public to comment on her eyes. It used to really freak me out. I always felt that her eyes were strinkingly beautiful but I guess I didn't realize others thought the same way. Paige started to get freaked out too. I'm really not exagerating when I say that we never went a week without being stopped. One time we were driving and a person in the car next to us turned to her and smiled. Paige started screaming, "why are people always staring at me?!" I felt so bad for her.

About 2 months ago someone stopped us to tell us how adorable our little guy is. After they walked away Paige turned to me and said, "how come no one says anything about me anymore? I guess I'm not pretty." I explained to her that she is no longer of an age that it is appropriate for strangers to make those comments and then reminded her that she used to hate it when they did."

Jenny said...

I bet Terri's daughter can stand the rock music because not only can she control the volume, she knows what's being played, and all the sounds are expected. I do not have any hearing problems, but I hate train whistles and being around balloons. The whistles are extremely loud, and I hate not knowing if/when a balloon is going to pop.

And to PE, you have adorable kiddos. :)

Karin said...

My partner has hyperacusis and had a set of musicians' earplugs made for her. Unlike other earplugs, they reduce sound volume without muffling. They are custom molded for your ears and have two levels of filtering to choose between. She loves them and is able to go into many places that she couldn't before.

Here's a page with info on them:

terri w/2 said...

Hey Jenny;

'Bet you're absolutely right on this one! Kids with AS/NLD have difficulty with transitions - often having meltdowns in unfamiliar situations. .it certainly make sense that my gal likes her loud rock music both because she can control the volume AND, she knows what's coming - no surprises. Makes perfect sense.


Stacy said...

Thanks for the link Karin. I told hubby about them (he works in the industry) and he said he had heard about them but they were costly. I think I still may check it out.

Thanks again.


Karin said...

My partner says they cost around $200.

Kitty - The Librarian Fox said...

Your Paige is one bloody gorgeous girl!

The Preemie Experiment said...

Thanks Kitty!!

Sophie said...

You may have addressed this else where, but I find myself wondering... earplugs?

Anonymous said...

The sound level of indoor water parks is very disturbing. During a recent trip to an indoor water park I downloaded a noise level app and discovered the noise was above 90db. Not only were the employees exposed to this but so were my children for almost 8 hours. The next day all of us had ringing in our ears.