Monday, 24 August 2015

Gabriel's Anxiety - We Figured Out The Cause

This morning we had a breakthrough.

For those of you who read my last blog, you will remember our describing the sudden onset of Gabriel's acute anxiety and agoraphobia.

If not, feel free to click and read all about it here.

So what is causing this sudden battle in Gabriel's life?

Are you ready for it?

He. can. hear.

Let me explain:

Almost two years ago, Gabriel had grommets put into his ears, as he was experiencing recurring ear infections.  Now, grommets usually last for a few months, at best, before working themselves out of the ears.  

Not with Gabriel. A check-up with his ENT in January this year, showed they were still nicely embedded into his ear drums.  

The problem with leaving grommets in the ears for too long means the eardrum battles to heal and close the hole created for the grommet.  This leads to a permanent perforated eardrum.

So we visited the ENT this morning, to possibly schedule a date to surgically remove Gabriel's grommets (since winter is over).

To our surprise, the Doctor told us the grommets were out, lying loosely inside his ears, and the eardrums had healed, perfectly.  He then went on to explain that when a person has grommets inserted into the eardrum, the person's hearing becomes muffled and dull.  Once removed and the eardrum heals, hearing is fully restored.

I am deducing this happened around about May sometime + the gardening incident happened in June = full hearing, possibly coupled by auditory processing issues and you have a recipe for extreme anxiety.

Here is a video, created by an autistic individual, to explain what happens when their senses become overloaded, just to give you an idea as to the audio issue.

Gabriel screams from the moment he leaves the house, throughout the entire car trip, until he reaches a set destination.  Then he calms down, once inside (unless it is very noisy inside).  We feel he is creating his own audio to drown out external audio, reducing an assault on his senses.

So, whereto from here?  

Possibly auditory training - exposing Gabriel to certain sounds, in a safe environment, where he can control the volume until he (and his brain) becomes used to/desensitised to the offending sounds.   We are also researching supplementation to aid reducing sensory overload (which is a physiological process), as recommended by many autistic adults.

This takes a lot of time and a lot of patience.  

But we're up for the challenge and look forward to the day when Gabriel is able to enjoy being outdoors again, without fear.


  1. Holy hat. Amazing. It might be worthwhile investing in some electronic hearing protection that allows you to muffle all noise but adjust the volume of heard speech. They work very well and might be just the ticket for allowing the little monster a level of control that might allow him to get on top of the anxiety.

    Give Gabriel a big (quiet) hug for me. <3

    1. Mr Frank - we think alike. That is definately on our to-do list ;). And will do!