Sound can make us tear up with its beauty and alarm us with its might. As with other senses, children can crave it, avoid it or be oblivious to its present in the environment. A child with sound sensitivity may develop an aversion to certain sounds and noises. They might wince with discomfort, block their ears or lead to acting out behaviours. We can train the ear to accept particularly difficult sounds by recording the sounds and playing them back at a reduced volume with the child in control of the volume. While there could be others who find pleasure listening to music, sound rhythms and singing and crave sound.
Activities for auditory stimulation
Use Rhythm & Beat
Use rhythm by substituting own words for that of a familiar tune, this can help gain attention and aid memory (e.g. this works particularly well for learning social skills and building vocabulary)
Improvise by clapping/ stamping feet or using percussion instruments
Storytelling can be a great way to encourage listening skills. Methods of storytelling can encourage attention, listening, turn taking and memory skills:
Use rhythm to tell story
Get the individual to repeat sections or words of the story back to you
Use movement to help tell the story and encourage the individual to imitate your actions
Use your voice (amplify some sections and whisper others depending on the story)
Make their own musical instrument
1. Tom- Tom Drum
Take a used pringle container, cut them into medium length cylindrical pieces,take a desired piece and decorate it with coloured paper or anything of their choice.
Punch a hole, put a stick through it and stick it so that it is intact.
Punch two holes on either sides of the piece and pass a thick thread of wool through and through each hole. While doing so wrap the thread to the stick in between so that it is more sturdy.
Attach two beads/ bells one on either sides at the end of the thread that are hanging.
Cover the sides of the piece with cardboard.
Decorate the instrument further if necessary and enjoy the sound of your instrument
2. Make your own shaker
Take a used plastic bottle
Use different grains (rice, black beans, grams)
Use a funnel or a paper cone to put these grains into the bottle
Shake it vigorously to create sound
Learning gestures and signs can be an important step in developing verbal language skills. Incorporating gestures shows improved levels of communication. Both formal signing as well as informal made- up gestures work.
Make every sentence an opportunity to combine speech and gestures when talking to an individual who is non- verbal.
Eg: C’mon Rajiv! Let's walk to the playground
Gestures for each verb:
The beckoning arm swing for “come”
Walking fingers for walk
Arms moving as if to climb a ladder, or a hand that imitates sliding by first moving up and then “whooshing” down, accompanied by a verbal “whoosh”
Colourful wind chimes
Wind chimes are extremely pleasing to the ear. Create simple mobile wind chimes using bells or object that create sound in the interest of the individual.
Headphones/ earphones are an effective means of modifying the auditory environment for a child. This can be a relaxing activity especially if the individual is comfortable wearing headphones. Headphones also helps deal with a loud environment which might upset them and interfere with their performance.
Use available objects to create sound
Using different objects available in your house gives children an opportunity to explore with sounds, blending two or three sounds together. Put on their favourite track and encourage them to try and match the beat to the song or advance it by playing off- beat.
Hands- On Activities for Children with Autism and Sensory Disorders, Teresa Garland, MOT, OTR/L, Bestselling author of Self- Regulation Interventions and Strategies