Help Your Child Explore Sound

By Laura Funk, Occupational Therapist

We all process information differently and for some children, processing sounds may be difficult. A child may react strongly to an outdoor noise such as a mower or street traffic by covering his or her ears, crying, or trying to escape from the sound. Alternatively, a child may not attend to a parent calling his or her name or may not seem to hear startling or loud noises.

The goal is to help the child adjust to their environment through exposure to variety of appropriate sensory activities in a calm, playful manner to help to alleviate some of these problems.

The following activities are helpful to those experiencing Sensory Processing Disorder related to auditory issues.  As always, you should discuss this with your healthcare professional and choose activities that are most appropriate for your child’s specific needs.

Sensory Activities to Help Your Child Explore Sound

  • Prepare your child in advance if loud noises are going to happen so they can anticipate ahead of time.
  • Noise blocking headphones or earplugs such as those worn by landscapers operating loud machinery can help children block out noise.   Playing calming sounds or classical music through headphones can also help combat an auditory processing disorder.
  • Sound machines with sounds such as the wind, rain, waves and bird sounds can be played to help to calm a child.
  • A white noise machine (which can be found online) may help to cancel any disturbing noise.
  • Play a listening game, sitting quietly outside with your eyes closed and identify the sounds.
  • Play with gentle or loud instruments based on your child’s needs. For example, a tinkling triangle or a rain stick, that contains small beads or seeds can be turned over and over to sound like “rain” for its calming sounds; alternatively hitting a drum or “playing “ toy trumpet may provide the stimulation your child needs.
  • For children requiring more sensory input, a dance party can be just the ticket to address your child’s need for auditory stimulation. Song games can help them to coordinate body movements and practice listening to simple directions.  Involve them in developing the playlist to include their favorites.
  • Encourage your child to make their own music with pots and pans serving as drums and cymbals.
  • Clap your hands to music with simple rhythms and use popsicle sticks as drumsticks to count out the “beats” on a safe flat surface.

For more information about teli Early Intervention Services as well as Hearing Services  call 412-922-8322.