By Shaylynn Hayes and Dr. Jennifer Jo Brout
Parenting & Misophonia
Since misophonia is a lesser-known condition, any parents might feel hopeless upon discovering that their child has misophonia. Unfortunately, there is no official “treatment” or “cure” for misophonia, but this does not mean that parents are in the dark when it comes to their children’s misophonia. While children with sensory needs might have special considerations, they are fully capable of having a happy, healthy, and fun childhood! The following are tips for parents whose children have misophonia.
No miracle cure
One of the most difficult things to wrap your head around when you have a child suffering from misophonia is that there is no “miracle cure.” Of course, as a parent, when you see your child in pain or distress, you are willing to do anything to take that away. However, as in the case with many relatively new and very much under-researched disorders, many practitioners, sometimes inadvertently, advertise treatments for misophonia that are not scientifically-based. Without scientific study, it is impossible to know if these treatments have any chance of working and will amount to more than a shot in the dark. Though it may be appealing to “try anything” with the potential to alleviate your child’s symptoms, exposing them to untested treatments or supposed “cures” can leave your child more frustrated. Though research into scientifically-based treatments continues, at this time, ethical practitioners should be honest with you about your options for counseling: there is no “cure” for misophonia, yet. However, developing coping skills can hugely improve the lives of sufferers. Unfortunately, there is no way around the time and effort that it takes for your child and your family to build these skills. However, if you are committed to learning all that you can about this disorder and to putting in the work to learn how to cope, you likely will see major changes in your child’s quality of life.
6 Things Parents Can Do For Kids With Misophonia
Learn All You Can About Misophonia
Resources such as misophoniakids.com can help you learn about your child’s misophonia, and what it means to be the parent of a child with a sensory disorder. Since misophonia is a lesser-known condition, it is important to find accurate information. Reading the literature review on misophonia can provide an overview of current research. The first step to helping your child with misophonia is to understand that it is not their fault, and that it is not “all in their head”!
Talk to Your Child’s Doctor, even if They Don’t Know What Misophonia Is
While your child’s doctor might not have heard of misophonia – this does not mean that you shouldn’t speak with him or her about your child’s misophonia. Advocacy starts with parents stepping up and taking their child’s needs into consideration. A helpful approach to discussing misophonia with a clinician is to bring a print out (a doctor’s guide can be found here) that explains misophonia in a helpful way. Do not be discouraged if your child’s physician has not heard of misophonia – awareness is growing, and by discussing misophonia with your child’s doctor, you are spreading the word!
Discuss Possible Accommodations with Your Child’s School
For your misophonic child, some accommodations could be helpful. Work with your child’s clinician to draft a letter that outlines possible accommodations that could help your child’s learning experience. Samples of these accommodations are: headphones with white noise, the ability to leave class and calm down, stress-balls and other “toys” that help stress management, as well as the ability to test alone.
Make Your Child’s Bedroom a Sensory-Safe Space
Your child will calm down much faster if they have a place that they can go to recover. Sensory information is cumulative, so it is very important to have time to “cool down”. Since your child is not habituating (getting used to) sounds, having a place where they can adjust and go back to a calm feeling is quite important. Sensory tools like weighted blankets, as well as paint colors your child enjoys, stuffed animals, and as much sound-proofing as you’re able to manage, and a white-noise machine, can help your child feel calm in their bedroom, and can lead to less meltdowns.
Try Not to Force Trigger Situations
While some families feel the urge to enjoy “family meals” together, you should consider your child to eat alone if they are triggered by chewing. There are many other family activities such as walks, board games, and television time that can be spent together without forcing the child to endure triggers.
Consider a Multidisciplinary Clinical Approach
A team of audiologists, psychologists, occupational therapists, and other providers might be able to work together to help your child cope with misophonia. You can find providers at misophoniaproviders.com. Different providers provide different levels of support, and by working together, they can come up with a management plan for your child’s sensory disorder.
While misophonia can be hard to deal with, it’s very important that parents remember that while their child is struggling, this does not mean that they cannot enjoy activities. By working around misophonia, children can learn to cope and adapt to the world around them.
Dr. Brout will be hosting a webinar, “Parenting Your Misophonia Child or Teenager” May 21st, 2019 at 7:30PM EST (also available online for 1 week after for those who can’t make time) via Zoom. For price and more information click here.
Shaylynn Hayes is a 23 year old writer, advocate, graphic/webdesigner, and student. She is the Editor-In-Chief of Misophonia International and Author of Full of Sound and Fury: Suffering With Misophonia. She is also the founder of www.lovenotstigma.com – an advocacy project that aims to share mental health stories, lift up advocates, and create a world that promotes love instead of stigma. Misophonia has created trials and tribulations, but it’s also changed her life in good ways. It is due to Misophonia that she ended up switching schools, but it is also the reason she has been able to focus her voice and try to help others that struggle with the disorder. Alongside Dr. Jennifer Brout, Shaylynn runs the Newssite and adovacy site, www.MisophoniaInternational.com. The site focuses on Research, Coping, and Awareness for the disorder. Shaylynn has also been actively involved in the International Misophonia Research Network, founded by Dr. Jennifer Brout. What used to be a life-ruining disorder has become an interesting and defining adventure that has proven that the things that are “ruining our life” may very well be creating a new, interesting life in the place of the old.