Summer brings many opportunities for families to watch fireworks either at the beach, festivals, ball games or the biggest celebration of them all: the Fourth of July! Many kids LOVE fireworks but there is a large group of children that react negatively at the thought of seeing fireworks. These children may have auditory sensitivity.
Auditory sensitivity may exist by itself in typical developing children or may be a piece of a larger pattern of sensory defensiveness. Children with sensory defensiveness may respond to sensory messages more intensely, more quickly, or for a longer period of time than children with normal sensory responsitivity. The sounds of the fireworks appear louder to them and they often complain that the sound “hurts their ears”. This discomfort is very real to them, and they want to escape the origin of this pain. We call this a Fight or Flight response.
The easiest way to provide a pleasant outing to watch fireworks is to provide your child with sound-dampening headphones available online or at many retailers.
If you find that your child has difficulty tolerating multiple settings such as movie theaters, indoor sporting events, music concerts, restaurants, church, school cafeterias, and large stores or malls, then you might want to seek further evaluation with an occupational therapist. There are several treatment options including a Therapeutic Listening approach which might help to decrease your child’s auditory defensiveness.
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