Pamela Mari

By Pamela

I don’t know why I always think I am the only one experiencing a certain behavior in my life with my son with autism. Before he was diagnosed, I thought it so peculiar and unique that he liked to rewind video tapes. I wondered why he did it until I stumbled upon a list of  ”stereotypical” behaviors for autistic children, rewinding video tapes being one of them.

Last week on Facebook I read of how many other children will have multiple media sources, the TV, the DVD, the CD player, the computer, all running at the same time, which my son does also. Ok, guess I’m not alone in that one either.

But today I touch on the subject of “noise”. Again, I cannot be alone in this situation with regard to autism and our kids. I think about the TV commercial where the homemaker answers the door to find a service man outside. In the background you see two children jumping on the couch, beating each other with “pool noodles” making a good deal of noise. We can assume this commercial portrays “regular” kids so sometimes I wonder ”am I just too old for this?” ” do kids actually make this much noise?”, “what about a family where they have numerous children of varying ages?” does it get this noisy at their homes?

At our house we have “good” noise and “bad” noise. “Good” noise is the type I am experiencing as I write this. My son is in a good mood. He’s watching a video, and a dvd at the same time. We have Charlie Brown on the TV and Chicken Little – on the DVD. He’s singing “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”. This “good” noise is accompanied by him rocking the bar stool so that the feet slam against the ground, bam, bam, bam. As he is doing this he’s also vocalizing some new verbal “stim” I guess it would be called “ooh, ooh, em, em, em”. It’s driving me nuts. I know he can’t help it, but I cannot tune it out. As he’s doing all this, he’s smacking himself on the forehead. Another new one. And when time allows, poking his index finger on the counter, tap, tap, tap, tap. There is a ritualistic series to these movements but I can’t honestly say I’ve tracked it yet. I have to admit though, many times this “good” noise, Spongebob yelling, Scooby Doo and Shaggy screaming all together, is too much for me. I can honestly say I know what “sensory overload” is. And I also think, that perhaps I am more sensitive to it than my son, or maybe it’s a personalized thing, what bugs me does not bug him and vice versa.

Bad Noise: ca·coph·o·ny noun \ka-ˈkä-fə-nē, -ˈkȯ- also -ˈka-\ : unpleasant loud sounds

Best word to describe “bad noise” at our house. I’m sure I don’t have to explain “bad noise” to other autism parents. The noise that goes with a meltdown, or at very least, an angry moment, a refusal or making no bones about the fact that my son is displeased with something. LOUD NOISE.

To the outside world though, all these noises must seem extreme. I’ve decided to “classify” them based on the possible thoughts of those who might hear them and not know the full situation inside our house.

GOOD NOISE:

  1. Cartoon noise, Spongebob yelling, Patrick crying, or Squidward screaming “I gotta get out of here”.  As a female TV reporter who came to our house last week said “When we walked on the porch, we figured there was a special needs person living here”. “Oh, how intuitive of you!”
  2. Banging on the counter: “hey I guess the neighbors must be installing new drywall”.
  3. Jumping on the bed: “they must feed that kid too much sugar”

BAD NOISE:

  1. “But I Don’t Wanna Go to School”….because this is a fully functional sentence most people assume he is just a spoiled brat and the “if that were my kid” thoughts and comments flow.
  2. A sensory meltdown caused by a loud unexpected sound from either the computer or vhs : the stray cats run from the porch
  3. A “who knows what caused it” meltdown including hitting and throwing objects: “the herd of deer crossing the property have jumped the fence to get to the other side of the road.”
  4. The combo meltdown: Mom committed some cardinal sin by saying the wrong word, or the wrong ending to a script, or god forbid the DVD player doesn’t work or the gameboy gets stuck, topped off with puberty and a ton of other emotional issues: the real estate agent contracted to sell the $950,000.00 house built about 100 yards from us is realizing she will probably never sell the joint.

But there was a time when it was quiet here. About a year ago my son was very ill. It was very quiet here. An eery, scary, doom filled quiet. Without the physical energy or the mental desire to participate, there can be no noise. I longed for him to have the drive to engage in any of those “noisy” activities he used to. I swore at that point, that when he recovered, I would not complain about the “noise”….the “autism noise” as long as he was strong enough to produce it.

So, it’s 10pm here and we have both Lilo and Stitch and Spongebob and Patrick on. Yes, it’s getting on my nerves but…..I’ll take it!