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Why a loud child may need calm and quiet to regulate

Most autistic people prefer calm environments. Low stimulation environments often enable better regulation. It can be very puzzling for people who are aiming to create these low arousal environments when the autistic child they are creating this utopia for is making the most noise.

The number of times I have heard teachers in staff rooms commenting that they have done everything possible to promote calmness, but the child is the loudest in the room. I have also heard those who are assuming that the fact that the child has responded in this way, means that they don’t need a calm environment because they are making noise. On the contrary, the child is making noise to cut out the external noise that is more difficult to process.

Years ago I took my son to see Walking with Dinosaurs which was an arena show. We went prepared with ear defenders. At the time he adored dinosaurs and he certainly suspended his disbelief and 100% thought he was witnessing the actions of living dinosaurs. The finale was a section about T-Rex and when it roared, the audience in our immediate vicinity at the O2 were not watching in wonderment at this incredible depiction of the majestic Tyrannosaurus, they were turning around to look at my son who in order to have a focus other than the roar of the dinosaur, had roared louder himself! He was that loud! He wasn’t screaming to leave, he was perfectly happy. He had regulated and dealt with his own sensory processing.

Lots of autistic children create noise to control what they hear. It doesn't necessarily mean they don't want calm or quiet. A very faint noise you don't even notice could be causing them a long of anguish, and they make noise to block it out.

If your child processes loud or unwanted noise in this way, then it might be beneficial to make it clear to their school and anyone who they are in regular contact with. Your child might need calm, but they need to be a tornado to regulate.

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