Sounds Good? Sound and the SPD Child

What is the sound environment your child with SPD experiences on a daily basis?

Many of our kids have auditory processing differences that make it difficult to block out background noise, locate where in space the sound originates, or discern different qualities or types of sound. They may have sound sensitivities and even sound cravings. As a small child, my son loathed and feared the sound of brass instruments, such as a saxophone (which we’d encounter occasionally when walking through Central Park), yet would impulsively dash across the playground to get closer to the sound of a violin playing.

Here’s an interesting TED lecture on our sound environments that will get you thinking about your child and his or her experience of sound in the environment. One thing that struck me is the speaker’s discussion of compressed music, such as mp3 files listened to over personal music players or the computer. A recent flood in our home unearthed our overlooked vinyl record collection. As we replaced the soggy and destroyed cardboard covers, we spun a few disks (remember that lingo? Or am I dating myself?) My son was amazed at how different a Beatles or AC/DC song sounds on an old-fashioned vinyl record played through a stereo (or should I say “hi-fi stereo”? As opposed to a “low fidelity monophonic player” which we owned back in my childhood).

Even better, listening to live music can help a child notice where a sound is coming from–can he hear the guitar sound better when he’s standing to the left of the stage or the right? Of course, live music is often challenging (too loud, for one thing) for our kids, but I think it’s worth trying to get them to listen to it and pay attention to where the sounds are coming from and how a small band sounds different in different spaces (basic acoustics).

I also think it’s a good idea to identify nature sounds, their location, and their meaning. I’m chagrined to admit that despite logging many years in Girl Scouting, I never realized that cardinals have several different calls, or that the trilling sound I hear near cattails at the edge of the lagoon is the call of the red-winged blackbird.


"What kind of bird is making that sound? Where is it located?" This is a great listening game to play with your SPD child!


Now that we live in an area with easy access to wildlife and nature, my son’s being exposed to the sounds of birds, rain pattering on leaves, the river rushing, crisp snow crunching and squeaking under our boots, and the waves of the lake gently breaking on the sand. We try to get out to hear these natural sounds as much as possible.

How do you alter the sound environment to help your child with sensory issues who has sensitivities and auditory processing issues? Are you finding ways to expose her to “good sound”?


1 Comment

Filed under auditory processing disorders, family fun, nature and SPD, sensory diet, SPD and auditory, Uncategorized

One response to “Sounds Good? Sound and the SPD Child

  1. Great blog! My daughter has a vision impairment and sensory issues. Since she can’t see what is going on, from an early age, I started telling her everything that I was doing and every sound that we heard. Now, she tells ME everything that I am doing and that is going on in the world around us. From “momma’s washing her hands” to “I hear a bird,” she is constantly listening and seeking to understand the world around her. So the habit that I started to help her with her vision impairment has really helped her with her sensory issues as well!

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