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Q&A: How to Address Startling at Loud Noises?


I’m looking for information about working with a 5-year-old Asperger student who struggles with auditory filtering and startles at loud noises. He doesn’t like to wear headphones. The only other idea I’ve ever heard is to use an FM system, but our district hasn’t been willing to let OT use them. Do you have any ideas for me?


Here are a few suggestions:

  • The easy startle response is an indicator that he is in fight-or-flight mode. I recommend implementing a sensory diet to keep him calm and modulated.
  • You may try offering incentives for wearing noise-reduction headphones during times of teacher instruction, such as circle time. Once he gets used to them, you can probably discontinue the incentives.
  • Preferential seating close to the teacher is typically helpful for kids with auditory issues.
  • If you have the option of being trained in Vital Links Therapeutic Listening Program or iLS (Integrated Listening Systems), the implementation of one of these programs would most likely be beneficial for this student.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Best Wishes,