A big trigger for ‘J’ are sounds. He absolutely hates when our dog (or my parents’ dog) does her alert bark. If someone rings the doorbell, of course our dog is going to respond and let us know. Although she feels like she is protecting us, ‘J’ sees it as something that is being done to him.
One of my first red flags was seeing ‘J’ react to his sister or cousin crying. At first I thought he was just being empathetic (and I’m sure there is an aspect of that) but over time I felt like there was more behind it. It’s so hard to watch him react to their crying, especially if we’re in a car or somewhere else where he can’t remove himself from the situation. It completely overwhelms him and he cries and screams to express the hurt it’s causing him.
I think because he has started to realize that things that are too loud are overwhelming, he describes certain situations as “too loud” or “too big.” At this point we are try to work with him to understand what can soothe him in these situations. Sometimes it’s playing a Super Why game on our phones and other times it’s having a snack. Unfortunately sometimes we just have to wait it out, which is the hardest one of all.
In The Out-Of-Sync Child, Carol Stock Kranowitz discusses determining if a child has an issue with each sense. For the auditory sense, she details overrresponsitivity, underresponsitivty and sensory craving. Although I can relate ‘J’ to a few different aspects, one line stuck out for me: “If he can’t get away from the hubbub, he may raise his own voice, hollering, La-La-La-La! to counteract noise, rather like fighting fire with fire.” If ‘J’ doesn’t respond by crying to a sound that is bothering him, he starts screaming or talking louder to try to deal with the overwhelming sound.
Although these are my experiences, Sensory Spectacle has a video on their YouTube page that explains why some people may cry at sudden noises: