Success with Headphones

I am a goal setter. I am a list maker. This is who I am as a person. Sometimes it drives my husband crazy. But, I think he will also admit how helpful it is. At any given time you can walk through my kitchen and see a list. Call social worker, complete paperwork, pay medical bill, make doctors appointment, etc.

I also make lists with goals. Sometimes they are for Cooper and related to autism. Sometimes they are goals for our family. I even add the steps to achieve the goals. Sometimes we achieve them in days or weeks. Sometimes it takes months or even years. Yes, years.

Our goals routinely consist of things like, being able to leave the house, walk safely in the community, do things as a family, etc. In our world, we always have goals. We wouldn’t succeed without them.

We just came out of a rough patch with Cooper. No, I don’t know why. I may never know. It could be this and it could be that. And while I won’t ever stop trying to figure out ‘why’ he has off days and weeks and months, I really try to turn my focus to alleviating the stress when it is actually happening.

Because the stress is what makes Jamie and I crazy. When we get worn down, when we aren’t sleeping, when the behaviors and sounds get to us, we turn on each other. And every family on here knows that when you get to that point…nothing good happens.

When I step back and dissect what is really stressing us out the most, I often find that it’s something altogether different than what I originally imagined. For example, is is the lining up of chairs that wears us down? Is is the mess that it makes? Or is is the sound of his Kindle blaring while he does it?

I truly think that the sound is what is getting to us. Any parent out there that has to say, ‘turn that down’ a hundred times a day gets it. (And no, the sound control apps have NOT worked for us.) Our son does not understand volume control. Not on a device or a television or even personally. I often joke that he is a sound himself. Grunts, laughter, squeals, screams and music. That is Cooper.

Our five year old even comments on it. He will say, ‘why is brother so loud all the time?’ If a five year old is picking up on it…then it’s true.

It dawned on me that we needed to alleviate some of the sound. And it needed to happen quickly.

So, I picked wearing headphones as a goal for Cooper. I want my autistic son to learn how to wear headphones. I want to take away the blaring of Thomas the Train, Barney, and The Daddy Finger Song.

Sounds simple, right? Well, it’s not.

I want to to note that we’ve wanted this to be a goal for years. It’s just never worked. No matter what we would try or how creative we would get. He would get SO stressed out when they were on his ears. He’d throw the headphones. He’d run. He’d scream. He’d hit his head.

All over wearing headphones.

No parent wants their child to be this stressed out. So, we’d stop. We’d wait a while. And then we would try again.

We’d use rewards. We’d use timers. We’d talk about it. We’d use visuals. We’d celebrate victories.

All for headphones and 5 minutes of silence.

Well, this mama is excited to tell you that after just a few short months of working on it every single morning and evening, we have success.

Super Cooper will now wear his headphones up to 25 minutes at a time. Added bonus, he often sits for the 25 minutes. THE WHOLE TIME! Please understand that my busy little boy typically only sits 15 minutes from 6 am to 9 pm. So THIS IS HUGE!

This tells me that someday, maybe someday, we will be able to take him to a restaurant. Or to a friend’s house. Or wherever.

The skill of wearing headphones feels monumental. It feels huge.

And to what do I attribute his success too? I would say consistency and using a timer. Just like with anything…we never gave up. We started with five minutes, then ten, then 15 and so on. We stuck with it. And of course the big, visual, silent, durable timer made all of the difference.

Not every person that reads this post will understand it. But if you live in this world, you probably do. Try using headphones. I promise you it’s life changing.

Links to our favorite products

Headphones that we love because they have volume control: LilGadgets Connect+ Premium Volume Limited Wired Headphones with SharePort for Children/Kids (Green)

Timer that we use for EVERYTHING: https://shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=796568&u=1659292&m=62473&urllink=funandfunction.com%2Ftime-timer-plus.html&afftrack

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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When my son was first diagnosed with autism no one was talking about it. Autism was hidden. I vow to change that.
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