October 15, 2010

Oh, the Noise, Noise, Noise, Noise!

I follow several blogs by moms who have kids who on the autism spectrum. It's a great community, a supportive one, and I learn a lot from these women. I'm glad they're out there.

Many kids on the spectrum also suffer from Sensory Processing Disorder. One of the blogs I follow, Hartley's Life With 3 Boys, is raising awareness and funds for SPD by spotlighting 30 families in 30 days on her blog. Her efforts will benefit the SPD Foundation, a leader in SPD awareness, education and research. It's interesting reading, often deeply touching, and often hitting very close to home.

My Aspie - and this is probably where I should come up with names for my kids, because his label doesn't define him - well, he does have some sensory issues. Mostly, he is hyposensitive to touch. I remember once, when I was chaperoning a field trip, a rather aggressive kid got off on this hand-slapping game. The goal was to slap another kid's hand until he couldn't take it anymore and finally gave up. My kid? He never gave up. By the time I saw what was going on, my son's hand was screaming red. Anyone else would have been hurting.

Not him.

His need for stimulation affected him a lot when he was little. He chewed anything and everything. He ate his pencils down from the erasers to the nubs. I've been pulling out the clothes he wore at this age to hand down to his little brother - only I can't hand them down. The collars and sleeves are chewed to rags.

His first IEP included therapy for sensory issues. But because SPD wasn't among his official diagnoses when we moved to this state five years ago, that part of his IEP was tossed, and I was never able to get it reinstated.

I'm okay with that, though. He'd started refusing the therapies. The weighted vest embarrassed him, as did the chew tubes and the wiggle seat. And, over time, he's learned to manage many of his sensory issues.

Not so much his mother. Only, for me, it's noise.

Every. Little. Noise.

Big noises, they make me jump. But it's the little noises that truly make me insane. The clicking of a pen. The ticking of a clock. The keening of a fork scraping along a plate. I had to get rid of the TV in my bedroom because the constant hum of the DVR kept me up all night. And I buy popcorn at the movies - every single time - to drown out the inevitable sounds of snacking around me.

And those family dinners I love? Torturous. And that's with my own kids, who have spent the past year listening to me say, "Chew with your mouth closed," and "Don't bite your spoon," and "Stop slurping! That cup is empty, dammit!"

Only I don't actually say the "dammit."

Just imagine how bad it is when we've got other kids over, kids whose moms don't have weird noise issues. Because my kids' manners, after a year of hardcore family dinners? Gorgeous. Just gorgeous.

And still not enough for me.

While my son is learning to manage his issues as he ages, I'm just getting worse. I don't know if it's the insomnia or if mid-life wrecks your ears as much as your eyesight. But by the end of the week, when I've got the heavy duty Friday tireds, my kids are lucky if I feed them at all. I just can't stomach all the chewing. (Stomach. Chewing. Get it? Ha ha.)

And that's the real origin of our Friday night movie nights. Friday nights, I lay a blanket on the floor, let the kids pick a movie, and set up a picnic in front of the TV. The background noise and the fact that I'm sitting on the sofa on the other side of the room make all that chewing manageable. And it's the one night each week that my kids don't have to listen to me complain.

I love Fridays.


  1. I am losing my hearing (genetic) and qualify for hearing aids. So count your blessings, even if they make you nutty.

  2. Counting away, I've got blessings aplenty and appreciate the reminder!

    You know, I did read somewhere that this kind of sensitivity could be the result of hearing loss. And given all the sonic damage caused by Walkmans and MTV in the '80s ... well, perhaps that's something I should check out. Aging sucks, doesn't it?