One of the common symptoms of Asperger Syndrome is sensitivity to noises. When people here that, they generally picture loud noises as being the problem.
And that can be the case, but the noises don’t have to be particularly loud to trigger a melt down. Sometimes it’s just the surprise and the interruption to routine that causes the problem. Other times its’ the distraction caused by background noise that can’t be ignored.
The fact that there are so many noise triggers makes it very difficult for parents of an Asperger’s child to predict what will cause them to spin off into an emotional meltdown. A noise level that was fine only 30 minutes ago, may now be the final straw that triggers a full on tantrum.
Young children have a hard time identifying what it is that is causing them so much angst. Even if they are able to recognize the cause, they may not be able to verbalize it in time to stop the melt down happening. This is why adults will frequently say that there was no warning before the meltdown occurred.
For older sufferers there are several options. At the most basic level they can plan their day so when they need their concentration most they are in a calm and quiet location. In situations where that is not and option ear plugs can be used to block out overly loud sounds. Noise cancelling headphones are very effective at blocking out distracting background noises. Other sufferers have reported success using brown noise (similar to white noise, but at a lower frequency).
For young children it’s difficult to do much more than be aware of how they may react to noises. If you take them to crowded malls, give them some warning of what is to come and find quieter areas to give them a break from time to time.
Helping Children Recover
Once a meltdown happens there’s really only one thing to do. Get them out of the situation which triggered the meltdown. They won’t be able to recover themselves while their senses are still being assaulted by the noise. You need to get them to a quiet area and back off so they can calm themselves down.
After they are calmer, it’s probably a good idea to talk to them about why they reacted the way they did. Helping them to identify what is causing their distress will enable them to recognize it earlier and perhaps avoid the next meltdown.
- Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD (everydayhealth.com)
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- Essential Facts about Asperger’s Syndrome in Children (brighthub.com)
- The Facts about Asperger’s Syndrome (brighthub.com)
- Startup Is Looking For People With Asperger’s To Test Software (businessinsider.com)
- Spotlight on Mild Asperger’s Symptoms (brighthub.com)
- Asperger’s Parenting: Common Issues (brighthub.com)