As I walked to work today, I found myself smelling fires in fireplaces, feeling the cold breeze on my face, hearing car tires as they turned on the wet pavement, seeing the bright colors of the leaves changing amid the gray skies. I could hear chickadees calling, “feebeefeebee!” Fall has arrived and with it, my senses are heightened to the change in seasons.
I remember a couple of years ago, we did a sound walk at Listen and Talk with our staff. We were at the beach. We closed our eyes and just listened for five minutes. I remember hearing the crunching of someone walking across the sand, the water lapping over the rocks, a plop, plop, plop on the water as a fish jumped up from the surface of the water, the leaves rustling in the trees, and the birds singing (and trying to identify a heron, an eagle, or a sea gull just from the song). Closing my eyes and taking a moment to just listen heightened how I experienced the world with my other senses. That said, I remember trying to focus on the sounds surrounding me and how they shaped my sense of what the world is like and what it meant to be at the beach.
While sounds may be more difficult for children with hearing loss to detect and attend to, we know that if we can draw their attention to the sounds surrounding us and them, they can experience a greater understanding of the world around them. For example, I often talk with families about working on helping children use their listening for safety. Having children attend to what it sounds like for a car to be approaching, be right next to us, and then pass by us until we no longer hear it builds an awareness of the environment and how to stay safe in different situations. Listening doesn’t always need to be tied to safety, but it does bring greater depth to our life experiences.
Each season brings with it different sounds and fall is one of my favorite times to listen to sounds that I haven’t heard in a while!
Consider going on a sound walk and take some time to stop and listen. Here are some of my favorite sounds to listen for:
- Leaves rustling
- Kids playing
- People singing
- Dogs barking
- Birds chirping
- Swishing of jackets as you run/walk
- Car/Bike tires turning on the wet pavement
- Vehicles going by
- Swings squeaking
- Metal clicking on a flag pole (or tether ball pole)
- Balls bouncing
- Feet running
- Water splashing
- Mud squishing
- The beeping of a large vehicle backing up
- Music playing
- Heat turning on
- Dishwasher running
- Microwave beeping
- Doorbell dinging
- Phone ringing
- The rain on roof
- Water running
- Dripping from overflowing gutters
- Whistles blowing during outdoor sports
- Cracking of sticks, crinkling of paper, and the striking of a match on a match box to light a fire
- Chopping of wood
As fall becomes more entrenched, all of our senses become a little more alert to the changes in the season! The air feels a little colder, the rain begins, and the leaves change. Now is the time to get out and play with your little ones to help them experience all the fun of the season. What are your favorite sounds?
By Kristin Wilson, MA, CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVT