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Autism news: Why Some Kids Act Out in Defiance...Behavior Problems Part 10
April 20, 2020

Does your child ever clap her hands over her ears for noise that doesn’t seem to bother anyone else? Or, does she need advance notice before you run the vacuum cleaner so she has a chance to plug her ears?

My son does this all the time. So I know his hearing is very sensitive.

It’s important to me to be sure my son knows I love him. I try very hard to show him love through my words and by my actions.

Recently, however, I was reading a book called Erasing Autism by Dr. Shauna K. Young. What I read stopped me in my tracks.

As a natural doctor who has worked with many children with autism, she found that many kids are over-stimulated by their environment.

I knew that, but what I didn’t know was that they often think everyone is yelling at them because their hearing is so sensitive. As a result, they may feel they are not loved.

Some children respond to this by acting out in defiance because they think everyone hates them.

But understanding WHY they act the way they do can go a long way toward meeting their need to know they are loved AND eliminating the defiant behavior.

After I read this, I told my son what I had learned. I explained that I love him and never intended to yell at him… that I may think I’m speaking normally, but because his hearing is very sensitive, it may seem to him that I’m yelling at him.

The response I received from him was priceless. I could see by the big smile and the look on his face that he knew exactly what I was talking about!

So now I’m trying to break the old habit of speaking to him in a normal tone of voice. It’s not easy, and I’m not perfect at it. Occasionally I forget, so I remind him that even though I sometimes do forget, I’m trying very hard to remember to keep my voice in a quiet tone.

It’s a habit that’s hard to break, but it’s worth the effort to be sensitive to my son’s needs.

Of course, not all people with autism have this particular sensory issue. So my recommendation would be to talk to your child if he has sensitive hearing so he understands that you don’t mean to raise your voice.

If this seems to resonate with him or if he can talk to you about it and tell you that your voice seems too loud, then you’ll know to use a quieter voice.

But not all kids with sensitive hearing will act out in defiance. Even though my son clearly thought we were yelling, he is normally not a defiant kid.

So it would be helpful to find out exactly how your child is hearing you, even if s/he usually shows good behavior.

I truly believe this kind of communication is so important. Our kids need to feel confident and secure in the knowledge that we love them and that they are very valuable and important to us.

When our children see us make such efforts to meet their special needs, it’s one more way to show them the love they so desperately need.

Warm Regards,

Kay Donato

P.S. I hope this information will help both you and your child during these trying times when most of us must remain at home 24-7. Hoping you and your family are still well and safe!

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