Coping

How Parents Can Help Their Children With 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.

  1. 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 (//www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnins.2018.00036/full). 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”!
  2. 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 (link to doctor’s guide here: //www.misophoniainternational.com/product/misophonia-guide-doctors/ ) 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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 (article here: //www.misophoniainternational.com/weighted-blankets-misophonia), 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Parents looking for more information and help for misophonia can visit www.misophoniakids.com.

 

 

Resources for Parenting A Child With Misophonia

Parenting is tough without any special challenges. Parenting a child with misophonia comes with extra challenges, but this does not mean that you are without hope, and you are certainly not alone in this struggle! The following resources can be helpful for parents of children and teenagers with misophonia. With the right amount of tools and support, your child can learn to cope and manage misophonia in day to day situations.

 

Free Misophonia Parents’ Guide

This free guide is available for parents’ as a basic introduction to misophonia. It can be downloaded here: //www.misophoniainternational.com/product/misophonia-guide-parents/

 

Sensory Diet by Susan Nesbit, O.T.

This free sensory diet is a template for activities that can help your child avoid “meltdowns” and “shutdowns” that come with misophonia. It can be downloaded here: //www.misophoniainternational.com/product/sensory-diet-susan-nesbit/

 

Misophonia Guide for Doctors

This guide is useful to print and bring to your child’s medical provider to explain misophonia. It can be downloaded here: //www.misophoniainternational.com/product/misophonia-guide-doctors/

 

Misophonia Provider Network

The site www.misophoniaproviders.com helps parents and patients find providers in their area. It is updated regularly.

 

 

What Can I Do If My Teenager Has Misophonia?

When we think of teenagers we often focus on hormonal, physiological and emotional changes. However, we often neglect to focus on how cognitive abilities, or thinking, changes. By adolescence, individuals are typically able to utilize abstract reasoning. However, this doesn’t happen for all teens at the same time.

During the “tween” years, individuals begin to make logical predictions about the future (“what if?” questions). Then, as they grow into the later teen years, individuals move into hypothetical and deductive reasoning, which enables them to be able to plan and organize with more efficiency. However, there is a lot of variability in this stage and the parts of the brain that mediate these functions are not fully developed until age 23.

In addition, physical growth, hormonal changes, and emotional development overlap. However, they do not necessarily move forward in sync with one another. The disparity between the physical, emotional and cognitive development can be confusing for many adolescents. However, this can be even more difficult for those with misophonia. Therefore, it helps to base your expectations of your teenager according to these differing developmental processes.

For example, despite the development of more sophisticated reasoning, self-regulation (independently calming one’s body and mind) is often an area of difficulty for teens. This is why we often refer to our teenagers as “moody” and “unpredictable”. However, the ability to self-regulate is significantly compromised in misophonia, making the teenage years possibly more “stormy”. In addition, as socialization becomes more important, your adolescent is likely to face conflict between wanting to be with friends and wanting to avoid triggers. Finally,  your adolescent may fearstigma associated with misophonia.

So, what can you do to help your teenager cope with these issues?

It may seem very challenging. However, you can help your teenager learn how to mediate relationships with friends within the context of misophonia. Here are some ideas:

  • Reassure your teen that not all social events must be attended.
  • It’s okay to skip ones that might be particularly uncomfortable, or to stay home and rest if a break is needed.
  • In addition, you can help by suggesting alternative activities for your teenager (especially ones that are regulating, such as exercise, yoga, sports, dance, etc.).
  • The more rested and regulated your teenager is, the easier it will be to cope with triggers.
  • Help your adolescent understand that missing a particular event today will likely make tomorrow a better day.

Finally, as many of us know, family conflict often arises from the stressors of the adolescent years. Teenagers usually experience conflicts related to separating from family/parents as they move toward their peers. This conflict can be exacerbated for teenagers with misophonia, since they may be more reliant on their parents’ help. For many parents, it is difficult to parse out “typical teenage behavior” and behavior related to misophonia. Here are some tips that may help:

  • Ask your teenager as calmly as you can about any behavior with which you are concerned
  • This will encourage self-awareness.
  • Try to make this a discussion to help figure these issues out, rather than making assumptions and engaging in conflict.
  • Seek a mental health provider who can help if you and your family if you feel that you are faced with problems that seem insurmountable.
  • Although the number of doctors and mental health clinicians is smaller than we would like, many are willing to learn about misophonia.
  • Ask your doctor or therapist to consult with another professional who understands misophonia, and/or give them reliable information (provided at the end).
  • Suggest to your counselor or therapist to take a course on misophonia. All clinicians are required to take continuing education credits and many are happy to take an online misophonia course. A link for a course is provided below.

Adolescence is difficult for the individual, and it is equally as daunting for parents. Misophonia can certainly make this already “stormy” time worse for everyone. However, helping your teenager make some adjustments within daily routines and in regard to social events can go a long way. Demonstrating understanding and patience when your adolescent is behaving in ways that concern you is not necessarily “indulgent”. Teens with misophonia often need their parents’ guidance and support for a bit longer than others.

For a comprehensive literature review to give your doctor: //www.misophoniainternational.com/academic-article-misophonia-research/(link is external)

If your doctor or therapist would like a course on misophonia //www.sensationandemotionnetwork.com/ceus-for-clinicians.html

Try a Weighted Blanket For Misophonia

What is a weighted blanket?

Weighted blankets are tools for persons struggling with sensory disorders like SPD, Misophonia, or Autism. Unlike regular blankets, these blankets aid with proprioceptive input, and are a great tool in a sensory diet. The Friendship Circle explains that a weighted blanket as, “a calming tool or for sleep. The pressure of the blanket provides proprioceptive input to the brain and releases a hormone called serotonin which is a calming chemical in the body.”

Weighted blankets, unlike regular blankets, should fit the specifications of you or your child’s body, and not that of your bed. These blankets are heavier than regular blankets, but they provide a great deal of support for the body.

Weighted blankets are also used for anxiety and other brain-based disorders, but they are primarily a wonderful resource for sensory disorders as they help the body with sensory integration. While there is no cure for misophonia, it is important to understand your sensory system and integrating coping skills. Susan Nesbit, OTR believes weighted blankets can be helpful for misophonia and sensory disorders and adds, “I tried 10% of my body weight but 5% may have been better. (I don’t have the money to get a new blanket to try it out, but occupational therapists should be considering this possibility when they talk with their clients. Many persons who overreact to sounds, also overreact to heat”.

Since switching to a heavier blanket, I’ve noticed that my comfort and disorientation have gone away while sleeping. In the past, I’ve explained what I do for misophonia and sleep, but I believed it was important to make a separate post entirely for weighted blankets, as it could not be covered in the smaller space.

So, how do I pick a weighted blanket?

Your weighted blanket should be 10% of the body weight plus 1 or 2 pounds. So, if you weigh 130lbs, your weighted blanket would be 14 or 15 lbs. What works for a person who is 200 lbs will be far too heavy for a person that is 120 lbs, and vice-versa. Some people may benefit from 5% of their body weight instead of 10%. This is highly individualized, and you may benefit from consulting with an Occupational Therapist that understands SPD and or autism.

How should I choose a weighted blanket?

You should know you or your child’s fabric preferences. Many persons have sensory preferences, and what is comfortable to one person can be disorienting to another. I personally am over-responsive to highly synthetic fabrics and polyester, and prefer a soft cotton. Most companies that build weighted blankets do-so based on a highly customized process. Some may prefer fleece, but for myself it is too soft. Trust your senses!

Can I make my own?

Yes! Of course. However, you should be aware that this can often be an expensive option. You must ensure you have the materials, and many of the fillers that are used for these blankets can be expensive, but if you’re crafty and resourceful this is absolutely possible.

How much do weighted blankets cost?

Weighted blankets are often expensive, and they are difficult to return. Consultation with an Occupational Therapist may be beneficial before you make this commitment. Another option is to purchase a weighted blanket with an Amazon Prime subscription (they 1 month free trials). Students can receive Amazon Prime at half the price.

When selecting your product ensure you see the Amazon Prime logo next to the product.

While weighted blankets may be better when they are fully customized, this may not be within the price range of everybody, and Amazon Prime helps with this try and test method because they offer free shipping and free returns (paid by them). You can get a free trial of prime here.

 

If you don’t want to continue your membership after purchasing your blanket, you can cancel any time before the trial ends, or it will renew at full cost! Please make sure you cancel if you’re not going to keep it! Students of eligible institutions can get prime for half the cost.

What are some of my options?

Luckily there are weighted blankets available on Amazon for people that may not have the opportunity to live near a vendor. There are also vendors that will ship weighted blankets, but the cost can be high since they are so heavy! These blankets range in price, size, and weight due to the huge variance in weighted blankets. Please note that it’s impossible to know which blanket will suit a person! You will have to choose based on your own needs. If you and your partner are different weights, you could each have your own weighted blanket, and then use another comforter atop of the bed to match your bedroom scheme. There are many ways to integrate weighted blankets into your everyday life without sacrificing style or personal preference.

For Adults & Teens

weighted blankets for misophonia

Weighted Blanket by YnM for Adults

This blanket comes in a range from 5lbs to 25lbs, and has lovely shades that will match almost every bedroom scheme. [amazon_textlink asin=’B073451HTY|B073429DV2|B073QXTQ59′ text=’Available on Amazon’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’misophoniaint-20|misophoniai0b-20|misophoniaint-21′ marketplace=’CA|US|UK’ link_id=’85ecf4de-fb6f-11e7-bbd7-abde76970b87′].


Rocabi

The Rocabi weighted blanket is beautiful, and priced within the range of most other blankets. They are available between 15 and 25 lbs and are a nice grey tone that will match most bedrooms. The microfibre cover is also likely to be soft and comfortable for most users. You can find them on their website. These weighted blankets are geared toward adults.


weighted blanket misophoniaPremium Adult Weighted Blanket By InYard

This blanket comes in navy blue and grey/navy blue. It is suitable for a person up to 150lbs, and you should shop within this range. [amazon_textlink asin=’B01LQKOTUY|B0756PKRBN|B01B5XTX26′ text=’Available on Amazon.’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’misophoniaint-20|misophoniai0b-20|misophoniaint-21′ marketplace=’CA|US|UK’ link_id=’8fcf2ed0-fb73-11e7-9cb2-e35f16415f94′]


For Kids

weighted blanket for kids with misophonia

Harkla Weighted Blanket

*They boast a lifetime guarantee and donate 1% of all sales to Autism research at the university of Washington.[amazon_textlink asin=’B01LYSGHRC|B074HDFC6S’ text=’ Available on Amazon. ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’misophoniaint-20|misophoniai0b-20′ marketplace=’CA|US’ link_id=’1afc3b59-fb76-11e7-91e1-bbc6d42ed62d’]


weighted blanket for kids with misophoniaWeighted Blanket by YnM for Kids

These kids weighted blankets come with a cute removable cover, and are also available in a dinosaur print. Available on Amazon.

 


Customizable Weighted Blankets

SensaCalm

Offers fully-customizable weighted blankets. They also have a selection of ready-to-ship blankets.

More to come!

 

If you have a suggestion for a weighted blanket, please do submit it in the comments! We’ll be updating this list regularly, and would love to feature tried and tested products.

 

*Not available in the UK

Some of these links may be affiliate links. But, we promise we’re promoting brands that are important to us. This helps with the huge cost of hosting/web maintenance, graphics, etc.

 

Activities for Kids and Parents With Misophonia

Anyone with children can tell you that occupying our little monsters can be a challenge. You need to get creative, be engaging and make it fun. It is so important to build that relationship, but if you suffer from Misophonia, it is safe to assume that many of these activities can be very challenging.

Naturally, some people have more triggers than others, as well as different kinds of triggers. Let’s be honest, most “kid-friendly” places are NOT Misophonia friendly. There are so many activities that I used to be able to participate in that are now unfeasible. For example, a bowling alley, a jump park, even a playground.

Even movie theaters are a challenge, but there are some accommodations available. A few simple rules to follow for going to a movie:

Never see a movie on opening weekend. That is just asking to be triggered by the crowds! Consider going to a movie at an “off time”. Most people do not go to the early morning matinees, which would be prime time for a Misophone.

Many theaters offer assigned seating. This is a wonderful way to see how crowded the theater will be, as well as allow you to sit in the back row. This will enable you to avoid those foot shaking, seat kicking jerks behind you. (not to mention the snackers!)

In the US, movie theaters are required to offer hearing assisted headphones in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. These are a total game changer. Simply ask for a pair of hearing assist headphones at the box office. There is no charge for use of the device, and there is a volume control to adjust to your own comfort level. The movie will stream through them. (Personally, I take some disinfectant wipes prior to use) and often will wear my earplugs with them for added protection. They can tune out those insufferable snackers that seem to check their manners at the box office.

Don’t want to risk it? I cannot say that I blame you, I will only go to the theater is there is a movie that I absolutely want to see and I do not want to wait for the DVD. Why not have a family movie night? With so many choices, cable, Netflix, Amazon, etc. you can enjoy a movie in the comfort of your own home, without the triggers. You can’t beat that!

What are some things you can do at home with your rugrats? Depending on their age(s) there are so many fun activities to enjoy together. If you have younger children, Play-Doh is a wonderful activity. It is quiet, creative and you can literally play for hours, not to mention that the feeling of the Play-Doh in your hands can be very relaxing and therapeutic for most people. (Sadly, it may be a tactile trigger for others). Older children may enjoy making and playing with slime. Let’s face it, are you ever too old for Play-Doh?

Some activities can be designed for children of all ages. For example, coloring is no longer just for “little ones”. There are so many coloring books for all ages including teenagers and adults. Throw in some gel pens or glitter pencils for your older kids and it is actually a lot of fun! I have always found coloring to be a very relaxing activity. I would strongly recommend skipping capped markers, since taking the caps on and off can be a trigger. Crayons, colored pencils, even paints can be used. No one said you have to be an artist to enjoy being creative! Who cares if that picture of a family on the beach looks like your paint exploded all over the canvas! Use your creativity as an outlet for your feelings and emotions. Express yourself! I doubt your child will critique your work, they are just happy to be creating with you!

Arts and crafts can be customized by the age group, as your child grows older, scrapbooking not only helps reminisce but you are using your energy creatively while creating a beautiful memory. Perhaps you can try making your own beauty supplies, lip gloss, bath or shower bombs. (Products you can enjoy later for relaxation time). The possibilities are endless. Most of these activities can be done with things around your house so you are not wasting money.

Let’s not forget about doing puzzles together. A past-time we enjoyed as children have become a thing of the past. Bring it back!

Go unplugged! Video games often have an abundance of audio triggers. Go back to the good old days. Time to dig those board games out of the closet and have a family game night. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised at how much your children enjoy board games

Just because you have Misophonia does not mean that you cannot enjoy spending time with your children. Having Misophonia means finding different and creative ways to make memories. Even if your condition keeps you “locked in” doesn’t mean you should be “locked out” of making memories.

How Do I Get My Misophonia Teen to Socialize?

One of the more pernicious side-effects of misophonia, particularly when one is lacking the proper coping skills, is isolation. When it seems as if trigger sounds may pop up anywhere one goes, and lead to internal mayhem one does not know how to deal with, the easiest solution often seems to be staying home, avoiding social interaction altogether. Though this may help avoid one problem, unfortunately, it creates another. Isolation can lead to loneliness and disengagement in adults, and, importantly, may stunt social development in children and adolescents. This can be distressing for misophonia sufferers and their families. Parents of misophonia kids and teens may wonder, how can I encourage my child to socialize, despite his or her sound sensitivity? The good news is, though it may not seem possible, there are several strategies you and your child can use to help ease socializing for him or her. This is certainly not a lost cause, for any misophonia sufferer. Below are a few helpful tips:

Take a break

When sensory stimuli is overwhelming, whether at home, in the classroom, or out with friends, your child can learn to “take a break” from the situation. By politely excusing him or herself to the hallway, restroom, or outdoors, your teen can create a short time away from the bothersome stimulus. This can be a respite, in which your child’s nervous system can return to homeostasis. Oftentimes, after a break, a child can return to a room with noxious noises feeling much calmer. Here is a sample accommodation letter that can be printed and brought to your doctor to personalize.

Advocate for yourself

Though it may be particularly difficult for easily-embarrassed teens, self-advocacy can go a long way to helping misophonia sufferers feel more confident in their environments. In school or at work, self-advocacy may mean pushing for necessary accommodations, and fighting through bureaucracy, however with friends and peers, this is a much simpler process of explaining the disorder in easy-to-understand terms. You may want to work with your teen on how best to explain misophonia to his or her friends, in as much or little detail as he or she feels comfortable sharing. Once your child feels his or her friends understand the disorder, he or she may feel more comfortable leaving the room when trigger sounds are present, putting in headphones, and using other coping skills.

Choose social engagements wisely

Living with misophonia does not mean one cannot spend time in whichever social situation he or she would like, however, it does mean certain situations will be easier to handle. For example, if one is bothered by chewing and swallowing sounds, but not by loud music, it may be far more enjoyable to attend a concert than to go to a restaurant. Likewise, if a teen suffers from hyperacusis (sensitivity to loud sounds), he or she may have an easier time going for a walk with a friend, rather than to a large party. Generally, if misophonia teens feel empowered to select activities that suit their sensory needs (outdoor activities, activities where trigger sounds are not often present, etc.) they will be able to enjoy time with friends with reduced anxiety. This is not to say anyone can completely prevent trigger sounds from occurring, but may simply reduce that likelihood.

Continue to Build Coping Skills

Though it is a long road, the surest way to encourage social interaction from your misophonia teen is through building coping skills. The more your child feels that he or she has the tools to deal with misophonic triggers as they arise, the more comfortable he or she will feel in a variety of environments. This can be achieved through working with a professional, or multiple professionals, in various fields, from psychology, to audiology, to occupational therapy.

The most important tip we can offer is to not give up! Sensory issues can sometimes make the world seem terrifying, with a trigger sound around every corner, however having misophonia does not mean you cannot enjoy your life. With some extra planning and effort, your teen can and should have a full social life. You can find coping tips here.

By Maddy Appelbaum

What Do I Do If My Parents Don’t Believe I Have Misophonia?

This is a hot-button topic that I have seen on support forums, as well as through comments and questions on Misophonia International. Now, I wish I could give you a magic wand, wave it, and then have your parents believe that you have the disorder. Unfortunately, this doesn’t exist… we’re working on it (kidding).

Now, let me tell you – there was a time – a few years ago, when my parents didn’t believe I had misophonia. My mother was quick to change her ways, and accept my disorder when she realized it truly was something that was more than just an annoyance. My father took a bit longer, and there are still days were we trifle. For the most part though, he’s on board too.

In my book, [amazon_textlink asin=’1517018706|1517018706|B014ED2GMI’ text=’Full of Sound and Fury: Suffering With Misophonia’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’misophoniaint-20|misophoniai0b-20|misophoniaint-21′ marketplace=’CA|US|UK’ link_id=’1f12b94f-1c67-11e8-ab01-67584b6f16cd’], I discuss in length having ‘the conversation’ about misophonia, and I realize that family, friends, and coworkers all have different requirements. This conversation might be uncomfortable at first, but it’s certainly worth it.

Try not to get angry with them

In general, most parents want the best for their children. It can be difficult for parents to accept that there is something “wrong” with their child. It can take time to realize that their child is not making this up, and that they have a disorder. Often, parents might be reacting negatively because they are afriad what it might mean if it’s true that their child has an unknown condition.

Use resources to explain your condition

This guide for parents can help you to explain misophonia. Alongside our other resources and materials, it’s our hope that your parents will come to terms with their child’s affliction. For younger children/teens/preteens, there is the website www.misophoniakids.com.

If at first they don’t believe, keep trying!

This also falls under ‘don’t get angry’. Sometimes changing perspectives takes time, and getting into an argument is not the right way to convince somebody that you’re in pain. I know this can be frustrating, but unfortunately it might take patience and perseverance to explain to a parent that misophonia is a real condition.

Dr. Jennifer Jo Brout perfectly explains in her Psych Today article how mothers might be deemed crazy for saying their children have misophonia:

While it can be difficult to refrain from the natural urge to make everyone you know understand Misophonia, think of it more as a process (i.e. allow people a learning curve).

  1. When faced with other peoples’ misconceptions about Misophonia (and your child’s behavior) don’t tell, ask.
  2. For example, even though you are disappointed, hurt, angry and heartsick, try politely asking the person if they know anything about Misophonia.
  3. Often this “disarms” the other person, as they actually don’t know much and  are willing to learn.
  4. Supply others with links to websites you like, research articles and/or popular press articles that you find useful. It frustrates us that the research on  Misophonia is in its infancy. However, a little information may go a long way for   someone who has never heard of the disorder.
  5. If you find yourself in the “defense trap” again with that same person, kindly remind them of the information offered. If they haven’t read it, maybe they will now.Remember the learning curve.

Parents, like all other people, are people. They may require some time to understand the disorder. Dr. Brout’s advice can be helpful with your parents, teachers, or friends.

Keep trying! I hope in time, the world will come to a better understanding of misophonia! 

“A Family That Eats Together” with Misophonia

Does your family eat together? Kelly Bruno offers an explanation on why it’s okay if they don’t! 

I ran out the kitchen door with a skip in my step. It was my turn to ring the dinner bell. Dad was up the hill, across the field, and deep in the garden, weeding. My brother was building a bike jump out of a random chunk of cement and plywood on our dirt driveway. I reached up as high as my little arms could stretch and gripped on tight, pulling down with all my might. The sound echoed for miles around.

Soon, we all sat around the dinner table. Bowls were placed in the center to be passed around and the food quickly filled our plates. Metal spoons hungrily scraped the mushy mashed potatoes off from our plates. Mouths opened and closed, working hard on their steak. The words and laughter filtered through our moist, broccoli stuffed teeth.

“Kelly, close your mouth when you eat,” my mom said, then sipped her tea. She always taught us our manners.

Our dinner table was the picture of family values, “A family that eats together, stays together.” Maybe you have heard the quote before.

Today, I cringe at the idea. Not because I don’t like it, or think that it is untrue. Eating together as a family can be a beautiful thing: a time to come together, talk about everyone’s day, relax, and laugh. It can. Or, it can be a nightmare. A nightmare if you, or someone in your household has Misophonia.

Misophonia. Where every sound and sight through a meal can switch your brain instantly into a fight or flight response.

The metal spoon scraping across the dish, mouths opening and closing, the moist, smacking chews or crunch, the words, their sound as they mesh together with food being chewed, and even the slightest sip from another, just politely taking a drink: all of these things, these normal, everyday actions and sounds that we see with our eyes and hear with our ears, they each have the potential of destroying the very heart of that family value quote.

So for you, the family with Misophonia, I offer you this instead, “A family that eats together, will most likely not stay together.” I do not apologize. It is a hard fact, and one that is lived by many.

For us, we have come to accept that family meal times are times where the family can eat where they want, when they want, in separate rooms, with music and televisions playing loudly, and sporting big, bulky noise cancelling headphones. And, that is ok.

It is ok in this day and age to be different. We can find other ways in which to connect. We can go for bike rides, a hike in the woods, swimming, to a concert, and so many places more. We can connect through understanding, that sitting together at a table with food is hurtful to the sufferer, and so, we will not participate in it. And for that, we should be proud.

So the next time you are in the process of filling out that random questionnare, and the question pops up of whether you sit as a family to eat your meals, remember, it is ok to check, “No.” It does not make you a bad person or make your family of a lesser value. If you, or a member of your family suffers with Misophonia, for what you are doing (or, not doing), I say, “Hooray!” And, “Good for you!” It is ok.

Let us stand up for ourselves and our families. Let us tell others about what Misophonia is and what it means to live with it. Because the more we do, the more we can finally shine the light down on our own family values and ways. Let us lead the way.

Written by Kelly Bruno, author of Sound

What Is SPD and How Does It Relate To Misophonia?

Would you explain the more recent conceptualization of Sensory Processing Disorder? 

In the 1980s, other scholars proposed that defensiveness exists in other sensory channels, and several other types of sensory defensiveness were labeled and described, including auditory (sounds), visual (sights), and olfactory (smell).  Because the protective and the discriminative tactile systems address only tactile defensiveness, and not defensiveness in the other sensory channels, the more recent scholars theorized that the amygdala is the filter, with the inhibitory fibers not overriding the excitatory fibers. The excitatory fibers are constantly firing, thereby letting in the unimportant information so a person is wired for fight, flight, or freeze. The sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems are not balanced. These scholars suggested using activities that provide deep pressure and slow, linear movement to help the inhibitory fibers override the excitatory fibers.

Moving into the 21st century, Dr. Lucy Jane Miller coined the terms more commonly used today. Sensory Integration Disorder is now referred to as a Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), which is an umbrella term with three primary diagnostic categories: (a) Sensory Modulation Disorder (SMD), (b) Sensory Discrimination Disorder (SDD), and Sensory-Based Motor Disorder (SBMD). Each diagnostic category has subtypes.

SMD has three subtypes: (a) Sensory Over-Responsivity (SOR), (b) Sensory Under-Responsivity (SUR), and sensory craving (SC). Persons can have SOR, SUR, and/or SC in one or more of the various sensory channels. Sensory channels include: auditory (sounds), visual (sights), tactile (touch), pain, olfactory (smells), gustatory (tastes), proprioception/vestibular (position/movement), air temperature (hot or cold), and interoception (e.g., hunger pangs). Persons with SOR perceive the input from one or more of the sensory channels as noxious, harmful, or threatening.  For example, a child with an auditory over-responsivity might cover his ears when someone whistles or jangles his keys. In contrast, persons with SUR barely perceive the input from one or more of the sensory channels. For example, a child with bumps and bruises might feel little pain. And a person with SC seeks input from one or more of the sensory channels. Examples include a child touching and/or smelling objects as he walks through a room, a child who seeks movement having difficulty sitting still, and a child who seeks proprioceptive input (pressure) intentionally bumping into things, including people.

SDD has six subtypes: (a) Auditory, (b) Visual, (c) Tactile, (d), Taste/Smell, (e) Position/Movement, and (f) Interoception

SBMD has two subtypes: Dyspraxia and Postural Disorder. Persons with dyspraxia (poor motor planning) have problems doing new or unfamiliar tasks such as learning to tie shoelaces. They do not learn to tie the shoelaces automatically (without thinking), and when they feel stressed, the task of tying is even more challenging. Postural disorders include poor balance and low muscle tone.

Do only children have Sensory Processing problems? 

Sensory processing disorders cannot be cured. Therefore, adults have sensory processing disorders. Many adults were not diagnosed as children, however.

Would you explain how SPD might relate to Misophonia sufferers? Is there a specific subtype that might overlap?

Misophonia and auditory over-responsivity might overlap. (Note: SPD is used interchangeably with the term auditory over-responsivity. To be in sync with others, I will use the term SPD when referring to a sensory modulation disorder, including auditory over-responsivity.)

Misophonia is a strong dislike or hatred of specific sounds. Persons with misophonia dislike, soft or loud repetitive sounds, especially sounds made by the mouth. Triggers include chomping food, slurping a drink, snapping gum, humming, and whistling. Other triggers include opening a bag of chips, cracking knuckles, and texting with the volume on. (Note: Sounds are not triggers when the person with misophonia makes them. Sounds are triggers when another person makes them.)

When exposed to a trigger, persons with misophonia feel anger, disgust, and hate. In contrast, persons with hyperacusis feel pain from loud and/or high-pitched sounds such as sirens and alarms, screeching breaks on subways or buses, silverware clanking against dishes, children’s screams, and clapping. Some loud, repetitive triggers overlap with the triggers for misophonia. For example, silverware clanking against dishes is listed as a trigger for each condition.

Persons with SPD dislike all of the above sounds. The emotional manifestations (anger, disgust, and hate) and the behaviors (fight, flight, or freeze) of persons with misophonia and SPD seem similar.

Some persons diagnosed with misophonia are reported to have visual sensitivities in addition to their auditory sensitivities. The term misokinesia has been used to mean a hatred of movement. Persons with misokinesia strongly dislike seeing movements such as someone twirling her hair around and around her finger, someone moving his leg up and down while sitting, and someone chewing food or gum with his open mouth.

Persons with SPD typically have problems in more than one sensory channel; therefore, over-responsiveness to inputs such as visual and tactile in addition to auditory over-responsivity suggest SPD. However, the auditory sensory channel might be the only sense affected in SPD. Therefore, the question of whether misophonia and SPD are linked needs to be investigated. Please bear in mind that the current lack of research does not rule out a potential link between these two conditions.

SPD is thought to be a neurodevelopmental condition, meaning that it a disorder within the brain that affects emotions, self-control, attention/memory, and learning throughout the lifespan. Research is ongoing; however, the neurobiological mechanisms and the implicated structures in the brain are not well documented. The etiologies (causes) are unknown, but a genetic vulnerability is possible in some persons with SPD. Fewer studies exist for misophonia. Whether this condition is neurological or learned from experiences is controversial. Research is needed to investigate the similarities and the differences between SPD and misophonia and to investigate the possible co-occurrence of these conditions.

The potential exists that some persons have been misdiagnosed, and an incorrect diagnosis could lead to the wrong treatments, which could worsen the symptoms. The causes of misophonia and SPD could be different. Causes guide treatments. Therefore, research to find the causes for misophonia and SPD is important.

By Susan Nesbit, OT