Misophonia is literally defined as “hatred of sound” in which negative emotions, thoughts, and physical reactions are triggered by specific sounds. The term misphonia was proposed by audiologist Margaret Jastreboff in 2000. There is no known single cause nor is there a cure and there is little research regarding effective treatments.

The following story is true. This family has been living with their son’s condition for over 2 years. Names and identifying information have been changed for privacy protections.

John began experiencing difficulties at age 6. He could not sleep in the same room as his brother because he did not like the breathing noises he made in his sleep. We moved John to his own room. However, as the months went by, the number of noises his brother Sam made would become triggers for John as did the severity of his response to them. The trigger could be coughing, sneezing, sniffing, eating and chewing. Sometimes it could be heavy breathing, singing, humming, or even talking. John will experience a “flight or fight” response and be in extreme distress. He screams and shouts, usually falling on the floor, tensing all his muscles, and finds it hard to breathe. This is after verbally or trying to physically abuse his brother. It has become so bad that the family had to travel in separate cars with one son in each car for a family vacation in case Sam triggered John into a episode.

They do everything they can to help John avoid triggers to the extent that he eats separately, uses noise cancelling headphones, and has a white noise machine in his bedroom.

They hope to find someone who understands this condition who can offer them some support in the near future. They continue to search for medical support for their son but have made little progress into the causes and treatments into this difficult condition.

I have also been made aware of other families who are dealing with children who are affected by noises from their siblings to the point they cannot live in the same residence as their siblings. One fourteen-year-old boy who does have to live with extended family was failing badly in school and not going to his classes. The mother pursued an IEP (Individual Education Plan) with the school district. The school psychologist tested him and reported his tests scores were not low enough to qualify for an IEP. The IEP team was not made aware of the teenagers negative reactions to noises that significantly bothered him in a crowded classroom setting.

If your family, a family you are aware of, or you are experienced in treating or researching these debilitating syndromes, Misophonia and Selective Sound Sensivity Disorders, please email me at michaelmcglinn@sbcglobal.net. Even if you live outside the United States and are aware of treating therapists and parent support groups in your country, please let us know.

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