In our house there is a constant noise. It’s a draining noise, buzzing, squealing and whining in alternating bursts. Happy noise and angry noise. Just noise. There are small slices of silence, savoured during the day, before it kicks off again.
It has been like this since she was a small baby. Noisy. Constantly. The old saying about knowing something is wrong when she is quiet is so true, although, even then it’s rare she doesn’t still give me a blow by blow.
They say she has echolalia, which basically means she repeats things. It varies on what, and how often, depending on what else is happening in her world. Sometimes it’s a song lyric, sometimes a joke, sometimes just a series of nonsensical noises, most frequently it’s a question.
The more wound up she is, the more she does it. Over and over and over again. With the same lilt and lull in the rhythm of the words, I can see how it could be comforting.
She often doesn’t seem to actually want a response to the questions. Or if she does, giving one often doesn’t stop the questioning. Redirection or distraction seems to be the only way to break the cycle.
We plug her into one of the i-devices. Headphones and a movie bring respite. But so come the guilts, and eventually, even I have to admit that spending her school holidays plugged in might not be the best way to pass the time.
Her OT suggested we try chewing gum. Give her mouth something to do, with the added benefits of some deep pressure as she chews and making it harder to talk. But not harder to hum, or babble, apparently.
We play the quiet game, in which the first person to speak loses. It buys us a few minutes as her competitive nature fights with her desire to talk. Invariably something crucial needs to be said and the game is over in a flurry of noise, like cooped up pigeons being released from their cages.
Another blogger, Twitchy, wrote about her son recently, who like Poss needs to share every thought that jumps into his head. I related to every word; the relentlessness, the questions, the mimicking as she follows me around the house. While sometimes I can tune out, concentrate on something else, the buzz, the hum is there.
It’s exhausting to constantly be processing someone else’s words. Someone else’s thoughts. Exhausting to be having to find the answers to all the questions and the words to all the queries.
And if I’m exhausted by it, I can only imagine how it wears her out.