Some students with autism fear the sound of vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers and sirens. So how do students cope with the many sounds at school such as fire drills, school bells, and morning announcements. Some students show intolerance by covering their ears or becoming upset. Here are a few suggestions to help your student when they are covering their ears.
Give a warning ahead of time. If possible, before the noise happens let your student know. For example, most teachers know in advance about fire drills. Before a fire drill let your student know in advance when it is going to happen. If your student is given a warning this can lessen the fear and confusion that might otherwise accompany the noise.
Consider an alternate schedule. Some students may have difficulty in loud lunchrooms or assembly halls. In these situations consider an alternative plan. Perhaps your student can eat lunch in the resource room or have a break in the office. Often just knowing there are alternative options can decrease a student’s stress level.
Provide something to help block the sound. If appropriate provide your student with some earplugs or headphones. This can help block out offending noises and allow the student to work independently and concentrate on school work.
Work with the student to create a “plan.” If the noise of the classroom becomes over stimulating help your student to come up with a plan to deal with it. For instance during fire drills, your student should know exactly what to do and have a goal-oriented task to complete. This can help keep his mind occupied and divert him from the stressful situation.
Allow for a noise break. This could include using headphones while reading or going to a quiet place during lunch time.
Were these solutions helpful? This is just one of many solutions you can find in Behavior Solutions for the Inclusive Classroom by Beth Aune OTR/L, Beth Burt and Peter Gennaro.