A gifted individual is a quick and clever thinker, who is able to deal with complex matters. Autonomous, curious and passionate. A sensitive and emotionally rich person, living intensely. He or she enjoys being creative. -definition of giftedness written by the Netherlands Study on Giftedness in Adults

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Follow-up: Auditory Sensitivity, Self-Control, and Summer Camp

It's no surprise by now that we are still trying to figure out the precise combination of things that make the kidlet go from our funny, sweet boy into an explosive device ready to destroy anything in its path. It's a cause of great concern for DH and myself, as we struggle to understand not only the feelings being displayed, but how to help the kidlet to manage them in a way that is socially acceptable and not destructive.

So this week was a great test. The kidlet pointed out to me once again, at the beginning of the week, how noise affects him. He said that loud, surprising, and shrieking noises makes him angry. Ok - so we did an experiment. I told the lead counselor what to do, and it seems the message got through - we had zero calls home or even comments at pick-up time. The kidlet told me he started to get angry one day, but controlled it. I cannot tell you how ecstatic that makes me and DH. 

The same morning that kidlet made this revelation to me, I read an article on self-control - and how it is an exhaustible resource. Makes perfect sense to me - I can tell that in my own life. but I want to share this article anyway, because not only is their methodology for the study tantalizing, but the results were so very lopsided.

Here is the link: Why Change Is So Hard: Self-Control Is Exhaustible

Okay, so no wonder the poor kidlet was falling apart after lunch! Lunch is when all the kids at summer camp are together - not JUST the 30 children in his own age group, but the nearing 200 children at the camp! NOISE! By the time he is back in his "small" group, he has already exhausted every bit of patience and self-control he's got! Giving him opportunities to escape the noise proved to be not only relieving for him, but it made the week at camp a successful experience. Success breeds upon itself - he knows he's done it once and now he knows he can do it again.

So we are planning this vacation and I decided to try some of the suggestions that I got after my last post. One, in particular - earplugs. I've been trying them out at home to see which ones work best, and which ones allow a little sound vs. none at all. I've got both - four different types, in fact. Kidlet hasn't seen them yet, but we are taking an overnight flight so we will try them during the flight and hope he gets sufficient sleep so when he runs into grandma and grandpa (just about his favorite people in the world), his cousins and aunt and uncle, he will have some patience to manage the chaos having 9 people all together for four days can create. I also bought him an MP3 player with some fun songs on it (he is so psyched about "Ghostbusters," "Pinch Me," and his very favorite song, "Video Killed the Radio Star") so he can "tune out" when he needs to. 

Oh, the earplugs will help me sleep, too! :)

Putting things together like this seems like it should be an easy process.


  1. I'm really enjoying following this thread. It took me a few years to figure out my son doesn't like loud noises/crowds either. It started when every birthday party we attended he would scream when they sang Happy Birthday, then he started preschool and he cringed at circle time. Now he's in a school where circle time is not mandatory and he is quite happy:-)

  2. What a great post! I took DS to the dentist today to get a filling - not his favourite activity! I brought the iPod with me, and he "tuned out" to the drilling noise in his head, and it made the whole experience much more bearable for everyone (him, the dentist and me).

    Hope your trip goes well!

  3. Hi, I just recently found your blog--so I'm not sure when your vacation is, and how much time you have before. I was wondering why you were keeping the ear plugs secret? (Knowing that all kids are different,) the ear plugs as a surprise would throw my kid off (not to mention the sensory issues with wearing ear plugs if he hadn't accommodated himself to them before.)

  4. Totally enjoyed the publish in the first word till the end. Outstanding job very well performed there.

  5. For Heather - I wasn't really keeping the earplugs a secret. For most kids, yes - introducing too much change all at once can be problematic, so giving them time to adjust to something before a trip can help. Mine too, in some circumstances. However, he also has a tendency to rule out something that could be good for him if he doesn't think he needs it (at the moment - foresight is still lacking). So, introducing earplugs at a time when he isn't feeling overwhelmed by noise isn't a great idea, because he will say no to them and that decision stays with him forever, even when he actually might need them. But that's him.

    I will blog more about this later, but the MP3 player was a GREAT thing the day we went to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Fantastic aquarium, but it was amazingly LOUD due to several large groups of small children and the echo-effect that aquariums tend to have. Kidlet wore his MP3 headphones, sometimes without even the music playing, whenever he started getting overwhelmed by the noise.