The ear is the first sense that we develop in the maternal womb. It is our first connection with the outside world. There are children born with greater hearing sensitivity, which is called hyperacusis. Hyperacusis can point to a child with special creative sound sensitivity or an acoustic overexposure that causes inflammation of the ear. “They manifest a special sensitivity, both to hear and to create and understand the world through sound. Each person has different channels to know the world and relate to it. Hyperacusis can be a manifestation of that sensitivity”, explains psycho-pedagogue expert in sound therapies.
A child who listens to certain noises and sounds, covers his ears, complains and cries can be hyperacusal. Our world is over exposed to noise and children often suffer from auditory stress. “We live surrounded by sounds continuously, like TV, mobile phones, traffic or environmental noise from meeting places like restaurants.
All this provokes responses such as inflammation of the auditory apparatus, especially in children, since when they are in the process of formation and development, their hearing is more vulnerable than that of adults. The flow of auditory information that we receive and interpret through the ear is constant. Just as we need to sleep without light and close our eyes, we also need the silences”, clarifies the sound psychologist expert.
The World Health Organization (WHO) ensures that noise pollution can cause hearing loss, sleep disorders that lead to fatigue, depression and lack of performance, stress and irritability. This International Organization considers the 50 decibels (dB) as the upper limit tolerable for the human ear. If we take into account that a conversation reaches 40 dB and the ambient sound in the field at 10 dB, it is clear that we are exposed daily to auditory stimuli that exceed the healthy average by far. One of the consequences of this overstimulation is the inflammation of the auditory apparatus in children with a special sensitivity in the ear, but also by an excess of auditory information, the result of the hyper-noise society in which we live.
How sounds influence children with auditory hypersensitivity
Especially sensitive hearing can provoke in children panic attacks or crying to intense noises. Some even interpret them as abnormal noises, which is called tinnitus. The child with hyperacusis tends to withdraw, avoid contact with other people, especially in groups, or with sound sources that come from places like cinema or shopping centers where you can generate sound that causes distortion. All this generates a tendency towards behavior that can sometimes simulate certain aspects of autistic spectrum disorders, condition changes in emotional development and limit empathy in social contexts. The child with hyperacusis never listens to music and, sometimes, to go unnoticed he can wear helmets or headphones, but he uses them as a protective barrier against sound.
Acoustic hypersensitivity is not usually hereditary. However, the habits learned in the family tend to be inherited from parents to children. In the case of parents with hyperacusis, which tend to avoid unpleasant noises, it is common for their children, by imitation, to develop similar habits. There are several guidelines with hyperacusal children, including carrying out a study of audition and an assessment of the family, school and social environment of the child that influences that auditory hypersensitivity, as well as avoiding stressful situations, favoring an environment where there is room for silence, habituation to auditory stimuli in a gradual way to favor tolerance, as well how to provide support and understanding to the child in all areas of his life.
Cases of children with hypersensitive ears are common, but often go unnoticed, because even adults do not realize their own hyperacusis. When this auditory peculiarity is known in the child, it can be taken advantage of by procuring a friendly medium so that he can express himself, also musical instruments, because music is a way to grow and relate to the world. Go to nature so that the child can enjoy sounds, such as those of birds, the leaves of trees. Then, we will be amazed at what these wonderful children are able to do, create and say through word, voice or music.