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How Might Under-Responsiveness to the Auditory System Affect a Person's Behavior?

Megan Paben, MOT, OTR/L, ASDCS

December 1, 2023

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Question

How might under-responsiveness to the auditory system affect a person's behavior?

Answer

Under-responsiveness to the auditory system is characterized by a reduced sensitivity to auditory stimuli. This sensory profile can have a profound impact on an individual's behavior and interactions. When someone is under-responsive to the auditory system, they may not respond when spoken to, creating the impression that they are inattentive or disengaged. This can lead to misunderstandings and communication difficulties, especially in social and educational settings.

Another notable behavioral manifestation is difficulty in modulating the volume of their voice. Individuals who are under-responsive to auditory input may not accurately perceive the loudness of their speech, resulting in speaking at a much higher volume than intended. This can affect their social interactions and may lead to social challenges, particularly in situations where speaking at a lower volume is expected.

Additionally, these individuals often engage in seeking behaviors as a way to compensate for their reduced sensory input. They may hum or make sounds to hear themselves better, as they have difficulty discerning their own vocal output. This behavior can sometimes be perceived as distracting or socially inappropriate, and it's important to understand that it is often a coping mechanism for their sensory profile.

Recognizing the signs and understanding how under-responsiveness to the auditory system affects behavior is crucial for creating supportive environments and effective communication strategies for individuals with this sensory profile.

 

This Ask the Expert is an edited excerpt from the course, Employing Verbal De-Escalation Strategies In Occupational Therapy Megan Paben. 


megan paben

Megan Paben, MOT, OTR/L, ASDCS

Megan Paben received her master’s degree in occupational therapy at the College of Saint Mary in Omaha, Nebraska, in 2007. Megan began her career as a school therapist in rural Nebraska, serving several small schools. After two years in the school setting, Megan transitioned into an outpatient pediatric clinic working with a variety of different diagnoses, and worked as the marketing coordinator.  After a couple of years, Megan took over the manager position within the medical clinic. During this time, she worked in a school within the community as well as working with the adult population clinic that was connected to her medical clinic. In 2018, Megan and her family relocated to Colorado, where she is an occupational therapist for a growing school district.  In her current position, Megan is the lead motor staff member. She serves 5 center-based classrooms for social communication as well as affective needs. Megan is a Crisis Prevention Intervention trainer for her district and an Autism Spectrum Disorders Clinical Specialist. 


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