Hi! I am Lavanya . My eleven year old son Surya loves to listen to music. Surya is autistic and auditory sensitive. Let’s rewind our journey ten years back. Little Surya would cry and scream when he heard music at home, on television ,in the car or anybody singing. I was terrified to take him anywhere because of his intolerance to certain sounds or music. Just when I was wondering how to tackle this? We were introduced to AIT ( Auditory Integration Therapy). AIT is given every six months for a duration of ten days for half an hour twice a day. The first day little Surya who was three and a half years old, was seated on a little chair and given Lego blocks to play with. The therapist covered his ears with heavy earphones and started playing rhymes at low and high frequencies. My son threw the blocks , cried loudly ,pushed the therapist and ran around the room screaming as I watched in shock. The therapist remained calm and waited till he calmed down, and repeated the procedure. Next time Surya made strange noises but kept the earphones on. By his fifth session Surya had started enjoying himself.
After the first ten sessions ,the changes were visible. Surya had started playing around with the volume button on the music player increasing and decreasing the sound to suit his convenience. He was smiling and blabbering. When we walked on the road he tolerated the car horns or loud music played during festivities. His aggressive reactions to sound had been completely eliminated. I wondered had we just built tolerance or had we sensitized this little boy? Well it didn’t matter as long as the outcome was favorable. As usual all good things must come to an end and my therapist left for Malaysia. I could not locate another therapist for seven years. Either they were very far away from where we lived or they were not good. Please note, AIT therapists are specially trained, hence getting a good one is well worth the wait. Remember you are dealing with ears which hear sounds more minutely than you do, so be very choosy and careful so that you can help your child build tolerance and be happy. Our next session happened at OAI ( Organisation for Autistic Individuals ) when Surya was ten years old. This time Surya was more open to the sessions and his vocalizations also started improving. I could hear words instead of garbled murmurs. Surya had developed tolerance to earphones even when connected to iPods or mobiles for listening to songs. His range of music expanded from nursery rhymes to film songs. He still expressed dislike to extremely high pitched loud voices, but most of the time he was fine. The ultimate test of his sensitivity was during Ganesh Chaturthi, when music is played loudly during the days of immersion. My son not only tolerated but also wanted to shake a leg on the beat of loud festive music. It was definitely a win win situation for us.
Again, Diwali for most people is a happy occasion but a noisy nightmare for us. So this Diwali, when others were bursting crackers and I pondered about my next move, Surya got up , shut the windows, switched on the AC and listened to music on the radio. I couldn’t help but smile at the logical peaceful solution his little mind had figured out more easily than I ever imagined. End of the day I had to respect his choices too. I decided not to push it any further and joined him in his room before drifting off into peaceful sleep lying next to him. So dear readers please help your child get over sensitivities slowly and patiently and remember your special child is learning from you very patiently. Think twice before judging them . A mouth without words does not imply a mind without intelligence. So take care and do the needful. Share your experience in the comment section. Thank you Lavanya