Talking About Self-Advocacy

Sometimes when I tell parents that it’s okay to wear earplugs in order to cope with their own sensory sensitivity/avoidance, they worry that they’re going to hurt their children or implicitly be telling their children that they’re too loud, too much, etc.

My children have been around me wearing earplugs since they were 2 and 3. I just had the first conversation about it with my younger child, who’s currently 4.

(To be clear, I’ve had plenty of conversations that were like, “What’s that, Mom?” “Earplugs, they help it not be loud” “Oh ok” but this was the first one that was more in-depth. My children both have noise-canceling headphones they wear at different times, themselves, so they’re familiar with the idea of wearing something to help with noise.)

Summer: mom, you wearing you earplugs?
Me: yes I am.
Summer: because it’s too loud?
Me: yeah, because there’s lots of noises around.
Summer: because we yelling?
Me: well, you guys are playing and that’s fine. I like you to play. I wear earplugs when there’s lots of noises to help.
Summer: to help me?
Me: to help me! To help my body.
Summer: to help your loud?
Me: yeah. Lots of noises makes it hurt inside my body, so I wear earplugs.
Summer: because…there’s blood in you?
Me: well, it’s not a hurt that has to do with blood. It just hurts inside my brain to hear a lot of noise at the same time, but sometimes there’s a lot of noise and that’s okay. So they just help protect me.

And then she was off on a four-year-old tangent about blood inside her own legs making her walk at school and something something and that’s how these self-advocacy conversations happen. Modeled little bit by little bit over years and years so that someday she has the words if she needs them, too.