When volume of the world went up.

Over the past few weeks, as I’ve begun my tactile exercises and sensory diet for sensory integration, I’ve noticed that I’ve been more sensitive to sounds.  I’ve been startling evening more easily.  It was definitely noticeable, but more of a point of observation than a cause for alarm.

That was true until Tuesday evening, when I was putting away dishes after dinner.  The sound of a spoon against a mug sounded like it was amplified several dozen times, like someone had turned up the volume level to the point of hurting my ears.

I decided that the best solution would be to put in earplugs and stay as still as possible for a little while, since even the sound of my own footsteps on the wood floor set me on edge.  When I took out the earplugs before bed, I still felt sensitive, but a little less so.

I woke up yesterday morning feeling like I’d been to a loud rock concert the night before.  My ears felt sore. Sound was still amplified, but much less painful.  I told my Nia teacher what was going on (yay for self-advocacy!) and asked her if she could keep the music volume consistent during class.  She agreed, and was both understanding and supportive.  In class, I was mostly sensitive to certain tones and beats than the volume, and that remained true throughout the day.  I also discovered in DBT group that I felt fine as long as multiple people didn’t start talking at the same time or someone made a strange noise (like whistling or squeaking).  I did give the group facilitators a heads-up that I was feeling extra sensitive to sound, too.

Today, it seems like the volume of the world around me is still somewhat higher than usual, but it’s definitely more tolerable.  I talked to my occupational therapist today and she said that sometimes these kind of things happen when the sensory exercises are working and the brain is trying to find a new kind of balance.   She wanted to make sure, though, that noise levels are generally tolerable for me and not intense or extreme.   She recommended that I cut back to going on the swings to every other day, and if that didn’t help, to reduce brushing.

Sometimes, this all seems like a great experiment.  I don’t know where I’ll land, or if I’ll feel landed when I get there.  In the meantime, hopefully there are parts of this extra-sensitive hearing experience that I can enjoy, such as soft whispers, the sound of the wind on the trees, or the laughter of a child across the street.



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