What to tell school: Auditory defensive

My 5 year displayed some pretty intense symptoms with regard to the auditory defensiveness earlier in life and it made life pretty difficult for him and for me to, mostly because for a while I just could not understand why he was miserable and screaming and crying and retreating all the time.

Once I identified the problem as did someone at the pediatrician's office, I just adapted life to fit his ways. I never got him formally evaluated because just the thought of taking him into an office building/hospital, seemed like unnecessary torture for him. There were times when the people at the pediatrician would actually come outside to the courtyard to take my son's temp. and listen to his breathing and only make him come in at the last second, it was that bad. (the lights were also an issue, but much less). Nobody wanted to hear the screaming.

Anyhow, his symptoms were reduced in time. He still had a hard time at preschool/daycare, but some of that was because they were narrow minded and would not do what I suggested and what a psychologist who came to observe also suggested. Their solution was to stick him in time out all the time. I had given them many ideas that would prevent problems and were not difficult. Things that would be great for all young kids. But people get stuck in their ways. He still hears noises that just about nobody else can hear. He gets so annoyed by sounds around us all that most of us are not even registering. The sounds of flushing toilets are scary. Public toilets, freak him out. He often covers his ears. Some common sounds make his body stiffen in shock. He has a rough time at birthday parties and will isolate himself away from the crowd of fun. He just started kindergarten. I am worried.

I have not told the school about this issue. I don't want him stigmatized. I want him to have a chance to just be perfectly normal. Of course, luck would have it that right before school started a major construction project started about 300 feet from his school, right by where his class is. I know the noise is going to be an ongoing issue.

Most people worry about what if their child cannot hear well enough, but here I am with a child who hears too too well. I wonder what the point would be of telling his school.

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Nov 15, 2009
Be an advocate
by: Anonymous

As a Special Education teacher and a mother to a son being tested for processing disorders, I completely understand your concerns. Luckily, despite our school system's issues, you have MANY rights. Make sure you inform the school about the situation your child is in. This will help them be able to help him in every way possible instead of thinking he is having behavior issues. Also, if his teacher is good, it won't be long until she is referring him for testing anyway, knowing that these processing disorders could possibly hinder his learning because he will be too distracted to pay attention. I hope the year goes well for you, just remember you have LOTS of rights and you are your child's only advocate. Be a strong voice for him to receive the best education possible.

Nov 11, 2009
severe auditory defensiveness
by: Anonymous

My 7 year old son was finally diagnosed with tactile and auditory defensiveness after 3 years of fighting with "professionals" who said he was ADD, ODD, ADHD, spoiled, or normal. Now in OT, he has overcome a great deal of his tactile issues. It takes a team to help a child with auditory issues...teacher, principle, pediatrician, social worker, occupational therapist, and parent. We happen to be in a private school that is wonderful, small, and supportive.

BUT, if you are in the public school system, you have the "no child left behind" and the IEP "individualized education program" on your side. Talk to the teacher before school starts for the year, with the principle. Provide information and support. They are there to educate your child and it makes their job difficult when they are not prepared. If your school cannot or will not help your child, go to a different school. Not every school is a "good fit" for every child. If changing schools is not an option, the state board of education that licenses schools will be a valuable resource for you and your child.

Sep 23, 2009
A Mom Who Knows
by: Heather, Calif.

I absolutely feel your frustration, my daughter is also auditory defensive. She wasn't diagnosed until the summer before 2nd grade. I was so relieved that we finally had a name for what was torturing my daughter on a daily basis.

I encourage you whole heartedly to educate your child's teacher and principle about your child's needs. I too was concerned about my daughter being labeled but something happened that was far worse. Because my daughter could hardly pay attention in class she did very poorly. She started believing she wasn't "smart" her self esteem plummeted, she started getting depressed hating school, and came home everyday angry and exhausted. She was in pain. I realized that by not letting those that dealt with her for 7hrs a day not understand what was going on was wrong and cruel.

My daughter is very intelligent but needs special consideration, a quiet place to take tests, more one on one help within a small group, ect. My daughter also needs to not feel embarrassed of how she was born. When we, her parents act like there is something that should be secret it only makes the kids feel worse. Instead deal with it like any workable problem with a we can do it together attitude.

Teachers are getting more educated about SPD, many resource or special ed. teachers even have experience dealing with kids with SPD. We have for years always had a meeting by the second week of school with our daughters teachers. We clue them in on what may trigger my daughter and what is most helpful. We develop a relationship with the teacher where we support each other in getting my daughter the best school experience. She is an honor roll student in 7th grade but it's taken a village! and an o.t.!

Sep 22, 2009
What to tell school
by: father of four

This is a tough decision for anyone and something that we have wrestled with for many years in relation to our eldest son. What information should we share, who with and for what purpose? I don't think we have always got it right either because no parent wants their child labeled as someone different. We also argued against the school's insistence on time-out in his early years without much success.

It will not be easy, but please do tell the school about your child's issues and what they can do to help overcome these, especially if you have ongoing concerns. Even better, get some advice from a child health professional (pediatrician, psychologist, occupational therapist) and bring that along as well. The school staff need to know as much as they can about this for your son's sake (and that might mean doing something different for him).

We've found that some teachers will know what to do instinctively or through experience. You should seek these out and enlist their support, but you can try and appeal to the professionalism of others to motivate them to help your child - whatever it takes. Our children depend on us to be their advocate at school so we should never give up on this. The school really does needs to listen to you and should be prepared to make changes if needed.

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