My son with CVI is frightened by certain common noises. Any suggestions to decrease his fear when he hears them?

He is scared by "celebration" sounds like "horray!" "Yeeeaaahhh!" And "wheeee". Also scared of cow mooing and snake hissing sounds.

Topics: Behavior
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Posted by Amber Bobnar on Dec 07, 2011 - 8:43pm

How old is your son? This sounds exactly like my Ivan at 3 years old or so. He also HATED the Happy Birthday song - I think because he knew it would end in "hurray!" and applause, which always upset him. I know that this is not at all unusual for kids who are visually impaired.

We decided to address this head on with a sort of behavior modification therapy. If these were sounds he didn't like, we did our best to expose him to them over and over again, especially in fun situations (doing things he enjoyed) so that he could begin to associate those sounds with fun things. It helped a lot - he's a completely different child now at 6 years old and it is so nice to not live in constant fear of a random noise terrifying my child - but it was not easy and it took a long time.

I wrote about the process here:

But even today Ivan is definitely more anxious than sighted kids and one thing I still do is carry around my iPod wherever we go. If we're at the doctor's office, for example, and he starts to get impatient and nervous I can whip out the iPod and play him some soothing music (he likes bluegrass) that helps him get his mind off of what's worrying him. I love that the newer iPods come with built in little speakers!

Posted by henrys mom on Dec 07, 2011 - 11:05pm

Thanks for the reply. Henry just turned 3 and just started preschool. I read your article and it makes sense that we should expose him to the sounds he doesn't like but I don't want him to start to have a bad association of the unpleasant noises with his favorite activities. His list of favorites is the exact same as your son! :-)
He is getting better in general but still will get set off by certain trigger noises or sounds. Sometimes it seems to not bother him as much then the next time he hears it it will cause a meltdown...we can only try and see how he does I guess.

Posted by Amber Bobnar on Dec 08, 2011 - 8:13am

I totally understand your reservations and I had the same worries. If we take him to the pool when it's full of kids will he start to like the kids or hate the pool? Still, we felt the alternative (staying indoors and avoiding all places where there may be screaming or yelling) wasn't really a good one either.

Here is another reply from a mom, Sharon, on Facebook:

"Just talk to him about it. If you know the sound he doesn't like may be occurring, warn him. Try playing games with the sound. It's just his sensitivity, some kids have texture issues, others have food issues. It's what makes him unique!"