Noise sensitivity & anxiety

Written by meagan coelho
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Noise sensitivity & anxiety
Upset child (Crying Toddler image by Mary Beth Granger from Fotolia.com)

Noise sensitivity and anxiety is a common form of anxiety in children. This form of anxiety usually starts when the child is a newborn and can extend on further into childhood. For some children the anxiety can last into their school-age years, and others may only be startled as a newborn. There are many options for treatment of this anxiety and for some it is just a common phase they go through. For others it can be an ongoing battle and can lead to other forms of childhood anxiety.

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From the Beginning

Babies inside the womb feel a sense of comfort. They grow fond of their surroundings and the common noises from within their mother. The outside sounds of the world are muffled and they are familiar with the sounds they hear every day. As a baby is born, he is removed from his secluded world quite abruptly. The sounds and lights can be frightening to a newborn and can cause him to become startled and have anxiety when it comes to foreign sounds.

Signs of Noise Anxiety

During the newborn and infant stage, it is easy to diagnose noise anxiety. When the child hears a foreign noise she may act startled or cry. Some other signs of anxiety include fidgeting, showing agitation, screaming, turning away from the direction of noise and trembling. Older children may run away and try to hide when they hear a loud and unfamiliar noise. They may also be able to vocally tell the parent they are afraid of the sounds around them.

Treatment for Infants

One way to help an infant cope with her new environment is to slowly wean her from the constricted feeling of being inside her mother. A great way to do this is by constantly swaddling the baby and holding the child close for body warmth. This will ease the newborn's anxiety that stems from her new surroundings. Many parents opt for a noise machine. The noise machine imitates the sounds of the womb and can be very comforting to a newborn. You can slowly ease the noise machine out of the child's daily schedule or nap time to help her adapt to the unfamiliar sounds of her new world.

Older Children

For toddlers and school-age children you may need to start a dialogue with the child about his issues with sound. Explaining foreign sounds and imitating those sounds with the child may help him understand his surroundings.

Serious Noise Anxiety and Sensitivity

Some children may have trouble outgrowing the phase of noise sensitivity. In this case, further therapy may be needed. Many medical professionals recommend the use of earplugs or soothing sounds headphones along with seeing a licensed therapist. There are a mulitude of therapists who specialise in general forms of anxiety. Some therapists will use talk therapy, while others may use a combination of discussion and meditation.

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