Misophonia is a challenge for all of us.
But those early years in school can be particularly hard. Discovering you have misophonia and then coming to terms with it, is an alien, confusing and often frightening experience.
What is this thing? Why can’t I control it? You’re growing into your own personality – with all the other challenges you face at this time – but it feels like there’s this maverick imposter in your head.
On top of ALL of that, you have to navigate a world which doesn’t yet fully understand what misophonia is. At this point most people still don’t know it exists or has a name.
We are light years ahead of where we were twenty or thirty years ago in terms of awareness (and things will keep improving) but what about now?
How can we make school and university an easier and more accepting place for you to navigate?
Schools and universities are by their nature regimented places. You study and learn and socialise in an enclosed space with dozens of other students who make lots of noises and fidget and in general are walking trigger factories…
One of the major setbacks we all face with misophonia is that it can completely cripple our ability to study or work. Simple, everyday day sounds can completely devastate our ability to focus and concentrate.
That means you’ll need to work on some coping mechanisms (you can see some of those here) and depending on your school setup and your individual needs, you may also need some support from your school.
That’s what this article is about. I’ll detail your positive, constructive experiences in getting help from schools, universities and learning institutions in the hope that it’ll help others in the same position who are looking for help.
Better still, if schools themselves are looking for guidance here this might provide a useful starting point (and teachers are always welcome to contact me direct).
#1 Freya’s experience
“I spoke to my head of year and she has agreed to give me a seat in the back corner of the exam hall for my GCSEs.
We tried it out for the mocks in November and it worked amazingly well, as I was able to finish all of my exams without having to cover my ears and shut my eyes every time someone sniffed next to me.”
Freya has also submitted a My Miso Story which you can see here.
It’s fantastic that Freya had the courage to talk to her head of year about it and fantastic that her head of year was both thoughtful, considerate and – most of important of all – came up with a practical way to help instead of judging.
Is this something you can try in your school or university?
#2 Lucy’s experience
“I have also had some exam arrangements which have helped a lot in my mock exams. Also I have managed to get in ear noise generators which help a lot in lessons.
For my exams first I just used to sit in the exam hall with noise cancelling headphones, then I got to sit towards the back of the hall with the headphones. Then I started to do exposure therapy at a hospital in London (this didn’t work) and the psychologist sent a letter to my school.
Now I sit in a separate room on my own with the invigilator and I can have my headphones too. This really helps.
It’s great that the school have agreed to do this but they are very reluctant to do much to help. My school has an LSU (learning support unit) which I can go when I get angry because of someone tapping. At first they were very unwelcoming and would quiz me as to why I was there, especially when I went to do class tests in there. They’d send me away etc. I think this is just a lack of awareness and communication.
I got my noise generators from Hearing Direct. I’ve had them since October I think and they’re really good for school. They are the Audimed 22MA BTE White Noise Generators.
They were very expensive but I was desperate for something to help because I couldn’t concentrate in lessons.”
Quick disclaimer from the editor: I’m often asked by readers about noise generators and earpieces. I can’t personally endorse any one brand or type – partly because I don’t use them and partly because I believe everyone will have different needs. If you are thinking of purchasing any devices, please do your own research first and also see if you can trial or test them before purchase – as they can be expensive.
“Also, for ages I had been looking for misophonia awareness wristbands. They were only available in America and luckily my friend (I mentioned in the miso story that she was empathetic towards me) had an aunt in America. Long story short I managed to get a wristband which has helped me a lot, people sometimes ask what it is and most of the time try to not tap around me.”
Some great tips from Lucy there as well. You can see Lucy’s My Miso Story here.
What experiences have you had getting help from your school or university?
This is just the start and I hope we can keep adding to this page with new ideas over time.
If you’ve had a positive interaction with your school, college or university please let me know either here or in the comments below and we’ll get it added to this page.