Does Anyone Have a Child with Hypersensitive Hearing?

Updated on February 27, 2008
T.M. asks from Winthrop, MA
31 answers

Hi Moms:

My older child (27mo old) has, what doctors think is, a genetic syndrome. In my previous questions I have told you that some of the symptoms resemble those in children with autistic spectrum. Well, one of them - hypersensitive hearing to ANY BABY SOUNDS - he's had since he was 10 mo.old. Every time a young child screams in delight or because he or she is upset, makes a squeaky noise or cries, it sets him off. It escalates too. I have tried to isolate him, didn't work, once he starts, he keeps on going for about 10-15 min. Then he stops until he hears it again. Every single playdate we've ever been at, we had to leave, and nobody understands why other young kids loud noises make him cry. Now it's even harder for us because his 7mo. old sister started communicating, and you know how little girls communicate. Yesterday my son cried pretty much all day...

I have no idea how to deal with it. What if it physically hurts him and gives him headaches? Do they grow out of it? Most people tell to just keep him around other kids more, and he will get used to it, but it doesn't seem to work at all. Seems like it's gotten even worse. If you have a child with similar problem, please let me know what you know about it.

Any advice is appreciated

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So What Happened?

Thank you everybody!!! Now I have an idea what my boy is going through, and I will try the sensory therapy. I also started brushing him with surgical brush. They say, it's more for tactile sensory disorders, but in a lot of cases kids with SPD have issues with tactile and it's all connected. I had no idea that this issue is so big.

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K.B.

answers from Amarillo on

Hi, I'm new here. I've never really heard the term hypersensitive hearing, but it fits both of my kids. Ages 7 and 4. My daughter hates going to public restrooms because when we flush it is usually sooo loud. I kept a friends baby a couple of weeks ago and he would get excited and squeel and my son would cover his ears and yell stop it. They both are very sensitive to loud noises. Is this something I need to be concerned about? Sorry I'm not helping you out.

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G.G.

answers from Dallas on

Oh, my gosh, T.!! I'm so glad you asked this question!! I don't have an answer for you, but I do have a 15 year-old daughter who STILL struggles when she hears the sounds of young kiddos!! Can't wait to see the responses you get!!

Geri

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S.B.

answers from Dallas on

My son, who is now 4, has always been very sensitive to sound/noises. It was worse when he was a baby, any loud noises whether crying, screaming, people clapping, the vacuum running it drove him to tears. The older he gets the less it seems to bother him, now the only thing that really gets him crying is screaming (which my little neice likes to do) He recently failed his hearing test at his 4 year appt. but he can hear he was just not following directions. We have been to the ENT a few times and his hearing is fine and the ENT said some kids are just more sensitive. I don't know that this helps, but at least for my son I know it is getting better the older he gets.

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A.M.

answers from Abilene on

Hello,
I can feel your pain. My daughter was dx'd with Autism at the age of 2 yrs. One of her sensory issues was auditory. She enjoyed sounds of the ocean and the bears that do the mother's heartbeat. To help her cope with the struggle of everyday sounds at home and school we used ease cd's. You can learn about these and purchase them at www.easecd.com You have to use specific headphones with the cd's, we purchased these at Radio Shack. They had to be ordered though. When things seemed to get too loud we would put the headphones on and pull the cord just for some muffle to help her calm down. We also used social stories by Carol Gray. What you do is find a photo (off photobucket.com) or draw your own and design a story that will work for him. For Allison in the beginning it was a picture of her with her headphones on and the story went something like "When I hear something I do not like, I will ask for my headphones by covering my ears" "I will not scream, that hurts my ears" "I will wear my headphones and I will feel better" She had many of these stories that we read every night and it really did help with the sound sensitivity. She did not like the ease cd's at first we would just put them on her once a day as long as she could stand it until she was getting 30-45 minutes a day. Baby steps! :o)
Hope this helped. Good luck
A.

2 moms found this helpful
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D.M.

answers from Dallas on

My 14 yr old son has hypersensitive hearing. We are using a wonderful speech pathologist that is working with him. After our initial consult we went for a hearing test. We used Achieve Hearing & Rehab for the testing.

Achieve Hearing
5928 West Parker Road Ste 1000
Plano TX 75093
###-###-####
Michael Gehan - Audiologist

Our Speech Pathologist is Sally Bober and she has offices in McKinney, Plano, and N. Dallas. ###-###-#### Once she gets the audiolgist report she treats for desensitizing auditory hypersensitivity. My son is beginning to really respond well. He is focusing and concentration is much better now.

D. M

1 mom found this helpful
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S.R.

answers from Dallas on

My oldest (of 3) had hyper-sensitive ears and nose. It was pretty clearly sensory integration dysfunction as other posts have mentionned. Cranio-Sacral Massage Therapy was amazing for her. We did 5 sessions of 1 hour each, and now do quarterly "maintenance" massages. It's safe, gentle, and even fun for the child. I took my third child as a newborn for his first crano-sacral massage just in case. My middle child went at age 2, but it didn't make much difference for him. My oldest started at 5 1/2 years and she was a different child after the first massage. I'm so sorry I didn't know about this sooner. It toned down her ears and nose to a point she could interact with the world in a much more relaxed way. If this is your magic bullet, you'll know after the first treatment. I recommend www.integrativepediatrics.com They specialize in sensory integration issues and do the full range of pediatric OT.

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L.L.

answers from Dallas on

There was a boy on my son's soccer team that had this disorder as well. He also had Aspurger's Syndrome. We had their soccer party at Incredible Pizza. His mom knew the noise would be an issue so she got some of those super protective headphones (the ones you should wear when you are around any noise that would be damaging to the ears, like heavy machinery, etc). This muffled the sounds enough that it wasn't a problem for him and he was able to function at the party. Maybe you could get some for your son to wear during play dates or when your daughter is being super vocal.

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D.B.

answers from Dallas on

Dear T.,

It would certainly appear that your child does indeed have very hypersensitive hearing. If so, this is an issue in the midbrain. It is a relatively common issue and one that can be dealt with through a program to increase neurological growth in that area of the brain.

I know how difficult this is making your family life, and it may only worsen as he gets older for social situations.

I am a neurodevelopmental therapist and deal with problems originating in the brain. The brain has specific functions related to specific areas of the brain which should be realized within a certain age range. If those functions are not happening as they should, stimulation to that area of the brain with a specific program can help address those issues. This program teaches parents how to help their children right in your own home---no running around to different places. We put parents in the drivers seat.

You can begin helping your child right away once you have the information and some guidance on how to begin.

The amount of information is large, so I teach a class to present it in an orderly, understandable fashion. The next class is this Saturday from 8 am to 4 pm at 400 Chisholm Place, Suite 400. The tuition is normally $99 per couple, but for Mamasource members, I will offer a 50% discount to $49 for the upcoming class.

I understand what you're going through and I can help you help your child.

P.S. Just re-read your initial post and want to add that your child's issues can be helped with the proper stimulation in respect to the brain. I sincerely hope you will consider making the effort to be at the class on Saturday---you will understand so much more about him by the end of the day.

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S.O.

answers from Dallas on

You must be very frustrated. Hang in there. Your son is lucky to have you for a mom. I don't know if this applies to your son, but there is something called Sensory integration disorder which is just a fancy way of saying some kids feel, hear, and/or taste more or less intensely than normal. There's a book I read when I was struggling with my daughters supersensitive taste and feeling. It's called "Too Loud Too Bright Too Fast Too Tight" by Sharon Heller, PhD. , another book was "The Sensory Sensitive Child" These may give you a place to start to understand what's going on with your little guy.

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A.J.

answers from Dallas on

I would seek advise from an ENT or audiologist. It can also be sensory. if your child has autistic like issues, sensory prosessing disorder (sensory integration disorder)

Almost all children with autism have some sory of sensory issues. Your child's issues with loud squealy noises could be the sensory trigger that sets him off. I would check into it. Call ECI and have some evaluations done for sensory integration disorder (or Sensory perception disorder) done by an occupational therapist.
I have a son with Severe ADHD, Sensory integration disprder and Aspergers and loud noises really get to him. especially beeping.

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N.J.

answers from Dallas on

I think that an evaluation by an occupational therapist would be a good step. They can assess sensory disorders and provide therapy, or minimally, advice that can help him learn to cope with the noises. I would call an Early Childhood Intervention program and if you can, maybe talk with an OT at the local children's hospital. Sensory disorders are very real things and there are people out there that can help.

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S.H.

answers from Dallas on

I used to have REALLY sensitive hearing, which turned out to be caused by sinus/allergy problems. I would hear the faintest sounds and would cringe at high-pitched sounds such as babies crying. I just wanted to cover my ears when my kids cried or screamed. lol But when I started my allergy shots, my sinuses cleared up and the pressure went away. I guess there was so much pressure on my ears that they got to sensitive to sounds.

People thought it was so weird, the sounds that would make me cringe. The screaming or crying would literally make my ears hurt (because my ears were "ringing".) I couldn't have the windows down at all in the car, because the wind and cars passing by would hurt my ears.

Anyway, maybe it's his allergies or pressure on his ears. Sorry to make a short story long. lol :D

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L.H.

answers from Dallas on

Have you tried getting him an ipod or other mp3 player. That way when noise is bothering him you can replace it with something positive. My son was really senstivive to the noise on the bus and a teacher at school suggested that. It worked great. You can even put educational songs on it and work double duty!

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J.V.

answers from Houston on

I would suggest taking him to an OT if youaren't already they can do things that will help over time. It sounds like in nervous system is just a little out of whack and they can help fix it.

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C.G.

answers from Dallas on

I would call either Easter Seals or Shriner's and ask for an evaluation - proceed from there. I can tell you from experience that most mainstream pediatricians do not know squat about this sort of thing. Another good resource is a lady named Betty McBride at North Texas Therapy Innovations - She would probably have some ideas. Dr. McAlpine at Brain Training Associates might have some ideas, as well.

Good luck!

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P.R.

answers from Dallas on

I would recommend you contact ECI (Early CHildhood Intervention Programs) in your area and have them asses him. He could have somehting called Sensory Integration Disorder and there are many ideas and especially occupational therapy that could help you both deal with it.
Also a developmental Pediatrician could be helpful.
Good luck.

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J.O.

answers from Abilene on

When my son was younger he would cover his ears and cry and scream when he heard loud noises. (He is now 28) What I have learned is he probably had sensory integration disorder. He took in outside information different that most people. He has out grown most of the symptoms, but still doesn't like loud noises and certain textures of clothing. It can mimic Autism. It is a medical condition and is treated by Occupational therapist or Physical therapist, depending on who has been trained. there are ways to help if this is what your child has. Where I live, there are two Rehabilitation Centers that can deal with it. Call your doctor for a referral.

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L.C.

answers from Dallas on

T.,
My son is seven and yes we have the same problem. Your child has sensory processing disorder. There are some good books like The Out Of Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz. There is a place in Dallas and Plano called Integrative Pediatric Therapy that has therapist who are certified in Sensory issues. They are fantastic and can help you. Ask them about the Listening Program where your son would listen to music for 30 min a day . It can help with auditory sensitivity. Your son cries because to him it is like someone scratching their nails on a chalkboard. It is PAINFUL to them. It will get better but only if you get him help . You can email me anytime. [email protected]____.com
L.

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R.W.

answers from Denver on

Please read the following link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensory_defensiveness

Two out of three of my children have sensory defensiveness issues..the good news is that they DO learn to manage it and regulate more as they get older. It can be hard when they are little though. Please do understand hat your sons discomfort is very real for him and he should not be shamed or punished for his reactions...but taught how to manage/cope.

There are some great books...the sensory sensitive child, quirky kids and Our Children's House.

Good luck!

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V.L.

answers from Dallas on

I teach kids with sensory issues. We often provide headphones to wear in noisy places. (noise cancelling headphones are great, but just old-fashioned stereo headphones with the cord cut off works, too) You can also look for musician's ear plugs at a guitar or drum store. It helps some kids a lot. It probably does physically hurt him and his nervous system will likey mature enough so that he can handle noise eventually.
Try teaching him to cover his ears give him some words to say like "I am okay" or "I can leave if it gets too loud" to calm himself down.

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J.P.

answers from Amarillo on

I have never heard of this before, but I'm wondering if maybe just a practical solution might help. What came to mind was earplugs, So I checked the internet and lo and behold:

Mack's Orange Kid Sized Earplugs
One problem with Mack's and other silicone or wax plugs is that they can sometimes fall out during vigorous activity. To eliminate that problem, we suggest the Ear Band-it headband. For tiny tots, an ear band is always a good idea to help prevent their swallowing an ear plug that has worked loose.
http://earplugstore.stores.yahoo.net/macsilearplu.html

Good luck and best wishes!

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T.D.

answers from Dallas on

My husbands stepsister has a son who has the samething. She has purchased a set of ear plugs, not the kind that goes in the ear, but the kind that looks like earphones. They were the kind that blocked out sounds. He loved it. When his foster sister would cry, or what ever he knew to go and get the earphones and put them on. Maybe that woud work for you. It has releived them so much from the constant crying and screaming as a result of another childs loud noise.
Good Luck
T.

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P.M.

answers from Dallas on

I'm not sure I'm quite in the same boat, but my son is also very sensitive to loud sounds. He just turned 3 and I do think it's gotten better. He was the only kid I knew that didn't like to play with toys that made sounds. I had to be careful where I took him like restraunts and such for loud music, etc.

He has gotten better. I usually warn him with "It's going to be loud" or "It's going to make a noise" and that seems to help. To this day he will say "That's too loud" for things he doesn't like or is scared of - even when it's something that doesn't make a noise. For example, I think Christmas this year with all the decorations and change was a little overwhelming for him and he said all day long "It's too loud" and he meant the Christmas tree lights and decorations.

I guess it depends on your opinion of the severity...you're actually the only other person I've heard of with this problem cause I was starting to think I was the only one. Glad to know I'm not alone and like I said, time has really helped and I just plan to let him grow out of it (hopefully). :-)

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K.C.

answers from Dallas on

I would definitely heed Laura's advice. I've heard of the same thing... in fact I'm starting to wonder if one of my daycare kiddos has it. Good Luck to you!

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W.L.

answers from Dallas on

I didn't realize there were already so many posts...so I deleted what I had posted and just want to wish you the very best of luck in finding the perfect solution for you and your family, especially your darling little boy!

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D.W.

answers from Dallas on

Have you heard of Sensory Processing Disorder? My son has it, but he is not on the spectrum. That was one of the signs with him.

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T.R.

answers from Dallas on

Have his hearing checked with a doctor to see if his hearing is within normal ranges. He is not too young. Tests can be done that can see if there is any kind of fluid build up or other blockage to hearing. You are right to consider autisim. There is another syndrome called sensory integration that causes kids to be hypersensitive in different ways. I think it is related to autism. the good thing is, if he is showing signs of autism, the earlier intervention occurs, the better off the child will be later in his life. A doctor can help with the diagnosis, whether it is just a hearing thing or similar to autism. Good luck!

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E.M.

answers from Dallas on

Hi T.,

My son was just diagnosed as ASD and I have just started getting involved with the "autism community". I was afraid to go to any support groups before he was diagnosed because I thought that we might not be accepted and I did not want to think that he had autism if he didn't. But, now that I have started going to some groups, I can see how much help it would have been. Everyone that we have meet has been very supportive. They absoultely would have accepted us without a diagnosis. I am sure that a group near you would be willing to help you figure out what recources are available to you and they are a great source of information about specific issues like hyper-sensitive hearing. We have joined Families for Effective Autism Treatment of North Texas and they have been great.

Also, there are many yahoo groups about autism and I am sure that there are probably some about sensory integration as well. You could join a group and post your question there and I am sure that you will find some parents who have gone through the same exact problem.

I hope that this helps!

E.

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S.P.

answers from Dallas on

Yes. My son would cry when we sneezed or made a sudden or loud noise. Dr. Van Miller, pedi-neurologist, believes he has sensory processing disorder and recommended the book, The Out-of-Sync Child. It explains auditory sensory problems as well as other sensory issues that affect development. We used ECI/Ready Start and loved their therapies. (only til they turn 3 years old).

We also recently found that changing his allergy medicine seems to be helping. Claritin never really worked but Zyrtec has been wonderful. We went to an allergist when he was 18 mo old or so but he was not helpful. My son's hearing test was perfect. He has had a few ear infections but not enough for tubes or anything like that. It has always seemed to me that there must be some fluid or something there because his balance was never good and his language development has been slow. It could be that his brain does not know how to process but I wonder if it is a combination of things.

We are able to go to ball games and play with other kids these days. He just turned 3 years old. My encouragement is to keep trying til you find what works for you. Be patient and continue coaching him.

D.M.

answers from Dallas on

Have you tried having custom ear plugs made for him? They usually run about $100 and you could use them when he is around other children and places where the crying disturbs others. Most ENT Doctors can have them made for you. My son had sensitive hearing as well and we couldn't go to the movies because it was too loud for him. He is now almost 13 and doesn't like loud noises to this day but of coarse he knows how to handle it. He might not outgrow it but maturity will take over soon.

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B.S.

answers from Dallas on

Hi T.,
I do not have a child with hypersensitive hearing, but work with kids that do. I'm a pediatric occupational therapist. Have you checked into OT for your son? It sounds like he could benefit from a therapeutic listening program and a sensory diet (not a food diet). In the mean time, have you tried ear plugs? They sometimes help to drown out the intensity of certain sounds without making it so that he can't hear anything. What area do you live? I could maybe recommend an OT in your area.

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