AIT Experience of a 10 year old with Autism and Extreme Hypersensitivity to Sound

Lala , 10 years old, had her AIT assessment recently.  She and her mother travelled for hours to get to Manila on her summer break.  Lala was first diagnosed with autism at 1 year 10 months.  She has speech delay, verbal stims, tactile sensitivity, behavioural issues, short attention span and fleeting eye contact.

Her speech is limited to communicating her wants.  ” I want to go to SM Manila” or ” I want a brown lollipop”.  Her speech is a little garbled, it is not that easy to understand her words.

Lala’s therapies include ABA, OT, Speech Therapy and GFCF diet. Lala’s mom, Tina  has spent the last 8 years of Lala’s life shuttling to and from the province to make sure that Lala gets the best therapists, doctors, special education programs for her daughter.

Mommy Tina even took the time to study Applied Behavioral Analysis in Manila.  It is not an easy life for Mommy Tina as she spends her time juggling career and her daughter’s scheduled therapies in Manila and in their province.

Mommy Tina’s major issues with Lala is her hypersensitivity to sound.  She cannot stand sounds made by the air conditioner, electric fans, alarm sounds made by elevators, paging systems.

She also dislikes sounds made by car horns, refrigerator , toilet flushing, the dripping / pouring sound of a  faucet, the sound of a piano, people singing or even the sound of sliding glass doors opening o/ chairs scratching against the floor.

It is mostly low frequency sounds that seem to bother her.  Her defense against the sounds she dislikes is to cover her ears, turn on the IPAD or IPhone music louder, play the same music repetitively  or make a blaring trumpet like sound to block out the noise.

Most children that undergo AIT  often have difficulty tolerating headphones, music or even the thirty (30) minute waiting time that the change in routine involves.

Lala is no different.   She was able to behave and despite showing obvious discomfort with the sounds.  She also exhibited verbal times during therapy.  Lala always brings a doll to her therapy sessions.  The doll helps calm her.

Day 1

On the way to STLC, Lala covers her ears while riding the car.  She was allowed by her mother to play the IPAD/ IPhone during the ride.  When her mother asked her to lower the volume of the sounds, she resisted.

Lala and her mom are on their 2nd day in Manila, since coming here.  Lala has difficulty adjusting in Manila.  She refuses to turn on the air conditioning and even the electric fan as the sounds irritate her too much.  Both mother and daughter sleep uncomfortably because of the heat.

Lala has difficulty with the therapy on the first day and is uncomfortable with all the sounds she hears on her headphones.  She would make trumpet like sounds to try to block out the noise.  She also cried at the end of the 2nd session.

Day 2

Lala covers her ears while riding the car.  She also covers her ears when she and her mom ride the elevator going up to the center.

Lala is still adjusting to the therapy. She shows discomfort and has to be reminded to behave.  She is still making the trumpet like sounds.  She has her stims. She keeps telling her Mom to go  “ SM Manila.”  Mom keeps reminding Lala they will go to SM if she behaves.

After the therapy, Mom and Lala take the elevator down. Mom notices that Lala is not covering her ears.

On the 2nd session of AIT, Mom and Lala again took the elevator up. Mom noticed again that Lala did not cover her ears.  Lala ‘s verbal stims increased noticeably during therapy.

Day 3

Mom is happy today. She was very excited to share the news that Lala was able to sleep in an air conditioned room for the first time. Mom is so amazed that Lala allowed her to leave the air con on until morning.Image

Day 4

Lala still covers her ears while riding the car but she was able to tolerate removing her hands from her ears in intervals for 1 minute or less from Don Antonio Heights to Greenhills.

Mom was able to redirect Lala’s attention to more conversation and tickle play while riding the car. Mom noticed that Lala’s stims are loud during the first session.  She was able to use the IPAD and IPHONE without sound or lowered sounds.

Going home, Mom prompted Lala to play the IPAD in the car, but Lala declined and did not want to play.

Mom noticed that Lala did not cover her ears upon using the elevator in going up and down the center.

She also allowed Mom to turn on the air condition on at home before going to sleep at night.  She was able to sleep peacefully until the morning.

Mom noticed that Lala is less upset with the sound of glass sliding doors being closed or opened.

Day 5

On the way to STLC, Mom noticed that Lala covers her ears less while riding the taxi.  Mom did not have to initiate any redirecting to distract Lala’s attention from the sounds.

Lala still has verbal stims, but these have lessened since the last few days.  She did not cover her ears in going up and down using the elevator.

She seems restless in the morning session and made verbal stims.

During the afternoon session, Lala feel asleep for around 10 minutes or so. She continues to be able to tolerate sleeping in the room with the air conditioner on until morning.

Day 6

Mom notices that Lala’s habit of covering her ears during car rides have further lessened.  She continues to do  verbal stims.  Lala is very preoccupied with a brown lollipop which she saw on one of her trips to the mall.

Lala was very cooperative during the morning session and did not make trumpet like sounds.  In the afternoon, Lala was a little less behaved and made stims.

That night, Lala surprised her Mom by allowing the electric fan to be turned on in her room at #1 but at a distance.

Day 7

While dressing up in the morning, Lala allowed her Mom to open the electric fan at a distance from where she was changing.  Lala still covers her ears while riding in the car, but she is able to uncover them from time to time.

Lala is still preoccupied with the lollipop.   Her behaviour in the morning is better than her afternoon sessions.  Lala noisy during the 2nd session and cried for a minute before the session ended.

Day 8

Lala still covers her ears while riding the ear, but she does it now alternately.  She has less verbal stims today and was able to cooperate very well with the AIT therapy.

She continues to be able to tolerate the air conditioner while sleeping.   She can stand having the electric fan on at a distance, but she’ll turn it off after 5 to 15 minutes or so.

During the afternoon session, she started a habit of singing like a soprano instead of doing trumpet like sounds.   When told by her mom to stop making those sounds, Lala turned to her mom and said “ Sing!”. She meant that she was singing.

Day 9

Lala covers her ears alternately while riding the car.  She has verbal stims. Today she is preoccupied with McDonald’s . Her verbal stims significantly lessened after she was able to eat at Mc Donald’s during the 3 hour break.

Day 10

Lala is finishes her therapy with flying colors.  She exhibits less stims during the therapy.  Mom is glad that she took the chance of trying out AIT even if it meant being absent from work for more than a week.  She is happy with Lala’s improvements and looks forward to seeing more developments in the future.

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