For those who don't know our Nathan, he's on the autism spectrum. He also has a CAPD (Central Auditory Processing Disorder) and his superpower is super hearing. He hears frequencies that humans are supposedly unable to hear...and at volumes so quiet that humans can't hear them. Needless to say, noise can make the kid go ape. Before we knew the 'why' of his sound issues, we knew the 'alert' sign. Hands covering ears. How often have we seen it? So much that if I suspected something would get loud, I would go ahead and put his hands over his ears for him as a warning. And sadly, hands covering ears was usually accompanied by tears and meltdowns.
We try to be aware of sound and not only does the kid have custom earplugs (on a string so they can go around his neck without losing them--we lost 3 pair before we figured out a string could be added), but my husband and I each carry boxes of wax earplugs in our cars and in my purse.
Imagine our recent trip to Grandpa & Grandma's house and their gift to our family -- tickets to the Ringling Bros. Barum & Bailey Circus. Oh yes, a sound sensory kid's dream (not really). I remembered his custom earplugs--with a string--and he put them in about 10 minutes before the show started. I think the noise was already getting to him. We had an awesome time and I kept checking with him--you doing ok? Yes. Need to hold my hand? NO!! A little before intermission, it was fairly quiet so I popped one out and said, "It's not TOO loud, think you can take them out?" No thanks, mom, I like them in. Back in it went.
At intermission I made him take them out to be able to talk to us. And when the second half started, miracle of miracles, he forgot to put the earplugs back in. He made it through the whole second half without earplugs and meltdown free. And, the best thing of all to me--no hands over ears.
We talked about it on the way home and I asked if he forgot to put them back in. The answer? "Nope, I was trying to see if I could do it--and I did." I'm so proud of him for taking risks that he would never have considered a few short years ago. We all had a wonderful time at the circus...and no hands covered anybody's ears in our section.