FOR PARENTS & TEACHERS
Scroll down for more info on misophonia in children.
Downloadable Information Sheet: Misophonia in Children
Download the pdf, complete the sections relevant to your child, hand to your teacher.
What is misophonia?
Misophonia is a sound sensitivity that can cause profound distress. For people with misophonia, sounds like chewing, sniffing, and breathing can cause intense feelings of anger, rage, fear or disgust. You can find out more about misophonia below and by watching more of the video from our colleague Natasha Daniels at AT Parenting Survival (see full introduction here). You can also read our FAQs about misophonia, or learn more from the NHS website (UK National Health Service).
How might you recognise a child with misophonia?
There are several signs to look out for. Does the child complain about the noises other children make? Do they show annoyance towards classmates, siblings, parents, grand-parents, or friends in response to noises? Do they choose to sit apart from other children at lunch (but not other times)? Have they uncharacteristically hurt or hit another child because of the sounds they were making? Have they sometimes fled from the room without you understanding why? Does the child block his or her ears in response to noises? Are these sounds not particularly loud? Avoiding loud sounds may be hyperacusis (pain from noise) while avoiding sounds that seem mundane might be misophonia (click here for a list of misophonia trigger-sounds).
Why might parents want teachers to know about misophonia?
Misophonia affects as much as 15-20% of the population in varying degrees, with some people very badly affected. We don't yet know at what age it emerges, but it has been found in children and certainly adolescents. This means there may be children with misophonia in your classroom, and you are certain to experience a child with misophonia across your teaching career.
What can I do if my child (or a child in my class) has misophonia?
Sounds that trigger misophonia often seems fairly mundane to other people, meaning misophonia can sometimes be a lonely experience. Understanding misophonia means understanding it is not the child's fault. Brain scanning shows that people with misophonia have more connections in parts of the brain that relate to fear and anger. This means that noises cause extreme emotions such as rage or anxiety, in a way the child cannot help. Children with misophonia are often disbelieved, and this can be unsettling. So your understanding is key.
Allow the child to move away from the noise, or remove from the environment any unnecessary stimulus causing the discomfort (e.g., is the blind tapping against the window frame?). Allow time in a quiet environment to defuse the discomfort if needed. Allow the child to sit apart from another child in particular, since misophonia can relate to the sounds made by a particular person. Try to be understanding. This small act is extremely powerful for self-esteem and overall well-being. The video above shows a more coping strategies for children with misophonia.
Many parents want teachers to know that misophonia exists and it may be having a negative effect on their child. So we provide above a downloadable information sheet for parents to give to teachers, giving information about childhood misophonia and a link for teachers to this online resource. We also recommend teachers read this brief NHS webpage about misophonia and its related conditions. If you are a teacher and a child tells you they have misophonia please share this with the child's parent/guardian. If you are teacher who has not yet entered your unique anonymous reference code from a parent via our downloadable information sheet, thank you for entering it above. (This will allow the parent to know that you have been able to find time to read our information webpage). Thank you for working with parents to support children with misophonia.
Parents can help children with misophonia realise they are not alone. The prevalence of misophonia is 15-20% so there will be other children with misophonia in their school. There are also a number of misophonia web communities, examples of which we list below. We recommend that websites are always explored first by parents rather than children, following the usual internet safety standards.