So it's Monday January 2, 2012. And we officially feel better after over indulging on New Year's Eve. We had a great time celebrating and Jacob was well behaved for my sister in law as usual, who watched Jacob for us. We ended our celebration in our neighborhood at a local bar, which had a great rock band playing through the night. Since we've had a child, my wife and I haven't been to any rock concerts, so we forgot just how loud a rock band could get. When we got home, we were talking about something, quietly we thought, then Jacob asked, from his bed, " Why are you guys talking so loud?" It was only then I realised how loud my voice was. Then we thought about how a posting on loud noise could be of some importance to help give ideas to other parents. I've heard and read about other kids with Asperger's that are also affected by loud noise, so we thought that we should describe how loud noise affects Jacob.
We as parents have noticed that Jacob does have a couple issues with loud noise. Jacob doesn't like when people talk loudly, at all. If Jacob even thinks that people are arguing he'll begin yelling at them. Or, if Jacob is playing on the computer, and a few of us are having a conversation, Jacob will often cover his ears and begin yelling, "You're too loud!" Jacob can react this way even if we all begin to laugh out loud or giggle. To help with this, we find that the key is letting Jacob know what's going to happen. If we are going to watch a comedy, we find it best to let Jacob know that we're going to be laughing loudly. When we use this tactic, Jacob is more likely to respond to the laughter, by laughing himself. This is way better than yelling at us to be quiet, so we find it that an early warning works best.
Yet, when he's on the computer or the DS, he will often have the music or sound effects a little too loud. We don't usually make a deal about it, because it's not that loud and we want Jacob to explore louder music. We've offered Jacob a compromise by using earphones, but that is nearly impossible. At school recently, Jacob has used earphones to do a listening activity. They were the large, puffy ones, not the small ones that you insert into your ear. I've thought about getting a pair of earphones that are soft and puffy for Jacob to use at home, but I don't want to buy them if Jacob won't use them. We were ecstatic when we heard that he used earphones because I never thought he would at all. We love when Jacob tries something new and it shows that even though he has Asperger's, he is willing to grow and try new things.
Jacob also loves music and almost any kind. When commercials come on and music is playing, Jacob will sometimes sing or dance to a song he likes. I've heard him sing classical music and then rap in the same day. Shannon and I have got him a few musical instruments over the years, but his use of them is limited. It's too bad because we got Jacob a keyboard once and he began to compose music on it, but he won't use it anymore because it's too loud. He also received a guitar as a gift from a family member once. He would strum the guitar wildly and recite the alphabet, which was great once, but not 20 times over and over. We were even daring even to get Jacob a drum set. It wasn't a real set. It was one of those lap top drum sets by Paper Jamz. They come with preloaded songs and they have spots where you tap to make drum sounds. We thought this was great, but Jacob only used the drums once. It may however, be a great alternative for other parents. They're small and inexpensive and are just like the real thing, only without the immense size.
Jacob sometimes listens to music or watches videos on line. He loves when you type in an artists name and all their songs will drop down on the menu. He's even learned how to add song s to his favourites list. We bought Jacob a CD player a couple of years ago, he enjoys the idea, but Jacob is hesitant to handle CDs.
But if mom or dad are watching a video or listening to the radio, we have to be careful not to have them too loud. If we play music, even slightly over the acceptable sound level, Jacob will cover his ears, stomp into the room and begin yelling. So, we use our MP3 players more often now. Unfortunately for me, Jacob loves exploring my Ipod. I have seen Jacob listening to my Ipod, using the earphones, but not in his ears. He'll sometimes put the earphones no the couch, play music, then lean his ear over near the earphones to listen to the song. We're just happy he even uses those type of earphones at all.
Another interesting fact is that if we try to sing, or dance, or even hum, Jacob will get extremely upset. I don't know why we can't sing around Jacob. And good luck asking about it. Maybe it's because when Jacob gets mad I sometimes sing loudly. I guess it's better than getting mad about something. It's tough however, when you can't sing along with your favourite song. Sometimes, my wife and I will try to dance or sing without Jacob noticing, but Jacob doesn't like when we try and get one over on him. So we just go in the kitchen and sing.
The best thing about music for us is that you can almost tell what type of mood he's in by the type of music he listens to or plays. If he's happy he'll learn towards dance or something fast, if he's sad he might listen to something slow. Then if he gets mad, it's heavy metal all the way. By using this we can tell if Jacob is bothered by something or upset. And early intervention is the best way to avoid an outburst. Jacob's birthday is in March, so I think we should get him his own MP3 player. They're relatively cheap and they're pretty durable, but he's going to need a puffy set of earphones. Hopefully he enjoys them and if he doesn't, at least I'll get a new gadget to use.
WELCOME TO JIM'S AUTISM BLOG
Hi everyone and thanks for visiting our blog. My wife and I created this blog to chronicle our experience while raising a son with Asperger's syndrome. Since our son was diagnosed with an ASD at age 5, we've had a lot of questions. Lucky for us we have a great support network in place. And our blog gives us an opportunity to share what we've learned with our readers. We hope you find our blog informative and interesting. Thanks again for visiting.
"It seems that for success in science and art, a dash of autism is essential." Dr Hans Asperger 1906-1980