Children who struggle with sensory processing issues can be highly sensitive to noise. Anything from a fire alarm to a loud classroom or gym can become a challenge.
Fortunately, there are some relatively easy ways to monitor and control noise levels at school and help sensitive students cope.
Take a Team Approach
Work with a child’s teacher and/or IEP team members to come up with a non-verbal cue to give a student advance warning of a loud bell, alarm or other sounds. Discuss strategies such as letting a child sit near the door during assemblies, so they can easily slip outside if the noise becomes overwhelming.
- Design an overall safety plan, so everyone involved knows what to expect and do. This could include assigning a classmate to assist a child as their “safety buddy.”
Give Advance Warning
If you know that a loud sound will be coming, let noise-sensitive children know to expect it. Help them find a place farther away from the noise, if possible.
Have earbuds, headphones or earplugs handy. You may need to experiment with students to see which works best.
- Keep in mind that students with tactile sensitivities may find certain ear protection uncomfortable.
- Be sure that personal protective equipment only muffles sound. Blocking it out altogether can cause safety concerns.
- Encourage children to pay attention to what they are seeing, such as flashing lights or students lining up at the door. Or, they can tell an adult or their safety buddy if they need assistance.
- Use white noise. In some cases, white noise in the background helps soften the impact of loud or jarring sounds. A fan or white noise machine may help a sensitive child relax or study better.
There’s an App for That!
For $3.99, you can purchase the Too Noisy app for your smartphone or other devices. It dynamically indicates noise levels, using background graphics to reflect changes. Too Noisy has earned positive reviews from educators who’ve already given it a try.
Ready to build your school-based therapy toolbox?
consider partnering with a clinical manager from Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services. We’re counselors and recruiting experts, but we’re also experienced school therapists ourselves. So, we get it! Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more.