Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How Sound Affects Your Child

Everywhere that we go, we are constantly bombarded by sound. As our lives have become faster-paced, and we each try to cram more into each day, the opportunities to find and enjoy simple silence are few and far between. Most of us have become so busy, and so used to the constant sound that we no longer notice it; it’s just faded into the backdrop of our lives. Just because we don’t notice the noise does not mean that we are unaffected by it.

According to Julian Treasure of The Sound Agency, there are numerous studies that indicate that excessive exposure to sound affects our ability to learn, to work, and even to live. He cites a 1998 study published in the British Journal of Psychology that states that exposure to sound while reading or writing causes a 66% drop in productivity. Treasure also cites a German study that shows that not only is a children’s ability to learn affected by noise, but that many children suffer from permanent hearing loss as most classrooms have a noise rating of 65 decibels, nearly twice the recommended level and just 10 decibels shy of levels proven to cause permanent damage to one’s hearing. The trend towards open classrooms and workspaces has only contributed to increases in the volume of ambient sound that we all now experience.

Other studies link the excessive exposure to noise in our everyday environment to additional developmental delays in our children, an increase in crime rates, damage to the human voice, and delays in healing and in some instances can contribute to an increase in death.

These revelations about sound are troubling indeed.

As many of us who have children that are along the autism spectrum know, many of our kids are more sensitive to a wide variety of stimulus in the environment, particularly sound. With this new understanding of the effect of sound on each of us, it should come as no surprise when our children experience difficulties both in the classroom and at home from receiving too much stimulation from sound.

Treasure offers parents and others ways to cope with this unending assault on our senses in this video, where he gives some tips on how we can each cope with the excessive sounds in our lives. Some of these tips include steps to take to cultivate silence and how to give our ears a break by changing the types of sound to which we are exposed, which can be helpful to all parents wherever their children may be along the autism spectrum.

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