It’s OK to Wear Earplugs

[Image description: A selfie of me, a person with (at the time the selfie was taken) short faded pink/orange hair sticking up and flopping down over my face, pointing at a purple foam earplug in one of my ears with a slight smile. End description.]

This was a game-changer for me, so maybe it will be for you:

You’re allowed to wear earplugs.

It took until about 2021 for me to confirm something that I had suspected for a long time. I got my hands on an Adult/Adolescent Sensory Profile Assessment and scored my own behaviors to see where I fell in terms of sensory processing. And, among other things, I score as statistically significantly sensitive and avoidant to auditory input…aka, noise.

I could have told you that, because I could have told you that becoming a parent was a sensory assault that I wasn’t ready for when it happened, because I could have told you about breaking down over normal baby crying, about hallucinating baby cries and waking up in the middle of the night, and then not even about crying but just noises like breathing and mouth smacking and sighing…about how as communication (aka noise) progressed to screams and shrieks and whines how I was downright losing it.

I don’t actually remember who told me that I could wear earplugs outside of my bedroom (where I was using them in tandem with white noise or music in a desperate attempt to stay asleep and not wake up at every sound). Or if I discovered it for myself. But it’s like I one day realized…hey, these are my own ears and this is my own body and I’m the one who has to live in it. I’m allowed to protect it if I want to. I’m allowed to muffle the sound if I want to.

I would offer that option to a child struggling with noise sensitivity, why shouldn’t I have it?

This doesn’t stop me from being able to hear my children. They aren’t being ignored by me. It’s taking the edge off of sharp sounds and buying me time: when someone screams, I don’t go from 0-100 into a reactive, lid-flipped state anymore. I can still hear that somebody needs help. And it’s muffled enough for me to take a moment and choose to be my best self on approach.

(I have heard of Loops and the various similar types of earplugs. They didn’t do enough to muffle for me, but I also know lots of people for whom they’ve helped a lot. Anything that helps!)