My LCA son, still an infant, gets overwhelmed with loud/unfamiliar noises. Any articles explaining why that happens?

My son has LCA and is still very young. He has a problems with loud and unfamiliar noises, also when a lot of people are talking at once in a room, he gets stressed or overstimulated (still not sure which one it is, I'm still new to this). We had company come to visit recently, and they did not believe me when I said he has this problem. They acted like I was making it up. I know my son, I know what makes him uncomfortable; if not removed from the situation/room he has a meltdown (somewhat like a panic attack) It will happen during thunderstorms, fireworks, etc. Does anyone know what this is called or an article explaining more?

Topics: Behavior
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Posted by Amber Bobnar on Jul 15, 2015 - 10:07pm

I think a lot of it probably is overstimulation, but it can also just be him trying to figure things out. He's little and can't see well. Babies use vision to put two and two together - there are a lot of people in this room and they are all talking, or mommy just dropped a book and it made a loud noise. It's difficult enough to process these things if you're a baby... now imagine being a baby who can't see!

We had a similar issue with Ivan, but for him it was particularly the noise of other children. He just couldn't stand being around other children and hearing them laugh or scream. It all seemed to happen so suddenly to him and he could never predict what would come next.

I wrote about how we tried to combat that issue. Some of these tips might help you too:

Another thing to try is to just talk about everything. Describe everything. You probably do that already, but as his language develops hopefully he'll be able to use your words to fill in the blanks for what his vision is missing.

Posted by JennyL on Jul 16, 2015 - 12:32pm

Hi! I have a daughter who is 14 months, totally blind and still undiagnosed. She is very very scared for unfamiliar voices, new places etc. Is it possible to e-mail you?

Posted by MamaBear on Jul 16, 2015 - 12:59pm

Posted by heather_biggers... on Jul 16, 2015 - 3:07pm

My daughter is eight and still has difficulty with loud noises. It's all about being able to anticipate the noise and expecting it. I try to help her out by telling her about noises that are able to be anticipated, like fireworks on the Fourth of July, big truck noises going through a parking lot, the bus coming to pick her up, etc. However, there are times when she (and I) cannot anticipate a loud noise. It's going to happen. The reaction to it, however, needs to be acceptable. She cannot scream for 10 seconds (her voice really carries), clutching her ear, while grabbing her self (most of the time her crotch, ahem). It's a long process to get her to react as anyone would when they hear an unexpected noise. I try to get her to do as any 8 year old would do in any circumstance, and that is the expectation. I want her to understand, blind or not, that there are norms in every situation. She's getting better, by verbalizing that something is "scary", clutching her ears, and laughing it off. Like I said, it's a process. But it definitely helps for her to understand the noises that could potentially be in situations. Caves, parking garages, and indoor pools echo, parking lots have loud motors and mufflers, fire engines will have loud sirens (which can't be anticipated), playgrounds are generally noisy, roller-coasters are for screaming (lol). We have utilized earplugs in areas where we know the potential for this reaction. It helps her to be more comfortable while enjoying herself as well. It's a comfort level that she needs in order for her to acclimate to her situation. Hopefully that helps.

Posted by Amber Bobnar on Jul 17, 2015 - 9:09am

I posted your question to Facebook. You can see all the answers here:

Here are some good ones:

"My severely sight impaired baby always struggles with loud/unpredictable noises and chaotic environments. However, so does my 12 year old with normal vision. It's a sensory processing difficulty and there are activities you can do to improve it (Google sensory diet or sensory processing disorder or talk to an Occupational Therapist). My baby boy is improving as he gets older and has more sense of what is going on in his environment. One of the things he now does to cope with loud or unusual noises is to mimic them which is so cute! When he was younger we stayed home a lot, I talked and explained everything constantly and also found calm activities that allowed him to tune out and reduce the sensory overload. Arthur needed to be in constant close contact and as I was very in tune with his discomfort I would gently stroke him and calmly talk him through any noise that was upsetting him. I hope this is helpful but always happy to compare notes!"

"We also used to struggle with that. Our blind boy used to scream frantically in a restaurant when they put on a coffee grinder. It was a nightmare! We avoided as much public places as possible. Just keep on telling what the different sounds are and soon he will realise it won't hurt him. Our boy still get startled easily, but luckily it has improved over time. Sensitivity to loud noises probably is common with blind children, but keep good faith. It will improve!"

"My daughter is 8 and completely blind. Loud noises used to invoke total meltdowns, and even now they are still a bit frightening for her. But as she has gotten older and learned more about the world around her, she has learned what sounds are and that they are not necessarily threats. Sudden, unexpected, or exceptionally loud noises can still bother her and even frighten her at times, but she has learned coping strategies like asking to leave the room or covering her ears."

Posted by stephanie_armstrong on Jul 20, 2015 - 1:42pm

This all sounds very familiar to me too. Just last night Simon my 5 month old freaked when I sneezed. He was ok when I reassured him Mommy was ok though. This has happened when I fry something in hot oil and when the dog barks really loudly too. He gets that overload thing too.

Posted by anonymous on Sep 08, 2015 - 10:04am

My granddaughter is blind and brain damaged( 50% of her brain is dead due to shaken baby syndrome) she also gets upset and she has meltdowns when things around her change. She actually has meltdowns in the grocery store due to the change in the noise around her. So yes I know what you are talking about with your son. Still looking for a cure of sorts