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(((((HUGS)))) It is so hard to leave them when they want/need us. Fire drills ARE scary. My 4 y/o doesn't like them either. The last one we had last month was the first one she didn't cry at and she has been going to that school since she was 2. Big loud noise are scary. I don't blame Elias for being scared.
I had to giggle a little at the kind but unknowing comment by the sub. We have so many kids that have trigger words in my class. We just SHUDDER when someone says them. Then deal with the aftermath with hugs and clam voices.

Oh this is so hard. I remember my daughter hating loud noises- especially fireworks- I don't think we got to see them until she was 7 or 8 and she doesn't have any sensory problems so it must be so much harder for Elias. I still hate it when we set off our home alarm. Lots of hugs.

Oh christy I just feel all of that for you! the pain and anguish alongside knowing that you had to let him work through it for himself. They seem to young to have to deal with all that they do. School can be a terrifying place but it is where so much is learned. By the time you read this I hope that Elias has already come home all smiles and not even recalling the difficult start to the day. Tomorrow will be better.

Oh, Fire Drills. How teachers hate them. I never found a truly good way to deal with them in my prek and k classes. I've had so many panicked kids with sensory issues. The neuro-typical kids tend to do well with practicing beforehand and hearing descriptions of what will happen.

Not so much for my other kids. A couple of times, I've "leaked" information about drills to parents so they could keep their kid home that day. Or come in after getting an "all clear" call from me. My other teachers and I had a practiced plan for getting the non-experienced kid out in case of a real fire.

I'm so sorry. This is a tough one. I often had a hard time explaining to my principals and directors why this was an issue. I ended up saying one time: "Imagine if the sound of a fire drill was a million nails stabbing into every inch of your body, all the way to the bone. Would *you* be able to think and process and participate?"

oh my. yes, all makes sense about letting him go. but sweeping him into your arms (along with the bucket - possible?) also makes sense. i'm 36 and often want to run for cover. what does that say for a grown woman? for a little boy? life is not easy.

When I was an elem. school counselor in Fairbanks we had a little group of kids from preschool-6th, and the emotionally imparied classroom that we preidentified with issues with the fire bell. We also had a little group of teachers, including myself, that were paired up with these students. We were given a heads up on if there was going to be a fire drill. Right before the bells were going to ring the teachers went to their student that they were assigned to and accompanied them out of the school. Sometimes I would cover the student's ears with my hands. (Even though I would want to cover my own ears) This helped with any meltdowns. If there were any problems they would come to my office for a time so they could calm down. This may help...just needs to be set up beforehand with the administration. Valerie

Just dabbing my eyes along with you.

Hi Christy~

Evan had trouble with the REGULAR bell, so we were able to warn everyone well ahead of time that he would freak over a fire drill, starting in kindergarten. I was dropping him off after PT one day and the ass't principal saw us walk in the front door and said, "Turn around and go right back out! We're about to have a fire drill!"

Once Evan became comfortable with the regular bell, he was a lot better with fire drills. Knowing he would have a warning helped a lot too. There were a couple times the fire alarm went off with no warning (air conditioning malfunctions) but by that time he was more or less OK. :) Now, in 3rd grade, I don't think they even warn him anymore.

You can buy noise-canceling headphones at places like Lowe's. If he knows at least what day or what period the alarm would go off, he could wear those headphones and still be able to function. Evan never needed anything that drastic, but I do have a friend who bought them for both her kids and decorated them with cute stickers, etc.

I know the terror. When we originally took Evan in to meet the Ed. diagnostician to get the sped process started, the bell rang, since it was close to the end of the school day. Every time we went back (to drop off enrollment info, shot records, etc) he insisted he wait in the van. I made arrangements with the principal to visit the teacher before school started and practically had to physically drag him into the building, even AFTER I assured him the bells don't ring in summer. Good luck!

Casey also has this intense reaction to fire alarms, bells and the intercom. I had the office at my school call him while he watched them run the intercom. One small step... He still didn't want to go back in my classroom after the intercom came on though. We think this might be the whole reason he would scream and cry and say he didn't want to go to preschool. I don't have any solutions, just comrodary over a frustrating situation.

Oh. That is just such a sad little tale. I feel for you, I really do. How was he when you went to pick him up at the end of the day?


I know of many families who've successfully arranged with their schools to have the nurse or a specificed person who knows when the fire drills will be. They take responsibility for getting the student out BEFORE the bell. Others do use teh noice canceling headphones or mp3 players w/their kid's favorite music to help soothe and drown out overwhelming/overstimulating sounds in places like restaurants, etc.

It's always challenging knowing what might set our kids' sense off kilter. For Nik, certain musical pitches or even styles of music can have him, literally, banging his head in pain. I've not yet deciphered which but always have the "go to" stuff at the ready.

Does Elias have certain sounds which make him really happy or relaxed? Maybe you could have those ready on an mp3 which he could listen to just before and during the drills?

Oh the poor bug. I STILL remember one of the first times I dropped Tobes off at a group early intervention group/daycare kind of thing, and they kept insisting that he'd adjust faster if I just left. Since when is adjusting to something new and scary best done quickly? It goes so against the grain to not scoop them up - when they're asking for the comfort and safety of mom.

I'm so sorry - it is totally awful and my eyes are welling up just thinking about it!

On a funny note, I know it was just a typo, but "clam voices" (in the 1st comment) made me laugh :)

I received a call an hour or so later from his resource teacher, it took him 20 minutes to calm down but he was all smiles when I picked him up that afternoon. I LOVE the ideas you all shared and will be talking with staff about them. And thank you as always for your kind words of support, I swear you lift me up more than you'll ever know.

Some children, even without sensory disorders, have a hard time tolerating certain sounds (or flashing lights, etc.) The two boys in my family who objected to some noises turned out to have extra-sensitive hearing as musicians. Maybe Elias has a gift disguised as a difficulty!

Okay, so I've been thinking about this all day.

I wonder if a visit to a firehouse might help? I know Elias isn't big on giving you feedback so it's sometimes hard for you to gauge just how much he understands. Then again, he has those breakthrough "Aha!" moments pretty often, which indicate Elias pays far more attention to things than he sometimes appears to.

So here's what I'm thinking.

Maybe he would like a visit to the firehouse to see the fire engines and watch the ladder truck do its thing- WITHOUT SIRENS. I mean, the kid loves elevators; that ladder extension thing is like an elevator on crack. You and Elias could meet the firefighters and learn about how they're "the good guys" who come to save the day, and the way that they KNOW it's time to save the day is by having a loud alarm.

If the firefighters could tell him how they practice for emergencies, just in case, you could help him draw a connection between how THEY practice saving the day, just like he and his classmates students practice letting them know they need them by testing the alarm. It might not help at all, but at the very least, he'd probably get one of those plastic firefighter helmets and a good social experience, unless the firehouse gets an emergency call while you're there and the alarms go off... in which case, please don't sue me. :)

Right now all he knows is that a loud, terrifying noise goes off without warning and he has to stop doing whatever he's enjoying and rush outside. I'm just thinking that if you started giving him context for the fire drill, little by little, one thing at a time, he might start to connect the dots. Sometimes the scariest things in life- loud noises, big dogs, tax accountants- are much less frightening when you understand WHY they are the way they are.

If that fails... um... What Niksmom said!

Informative, really well thoughtout and written. I'll be looking out for more posts from you.

Any news on any further posts from you? I'm looking forward to it!

This is hard. But there are now fire alarms and systems that operate in incredibly varied and effective ways.

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