When you have an echolalic sibling whose greatest joy is creating and listening to repetitious sounds, you get REALLY good at tuning them, and other white noise, out.
In elementary school, I could read a book during snack break completely unperturbed while everyone else ran around screaming like 3rd graders are apt to do.
However, our immediate family’s ability to not be bothered by Dude’s white noise became quite evident during our annual trips to the beach.
When he was younger, Dude had a favorite sound toy that was his go to form of entertainment while sitting on the beach. It was a board that was slightly larger than a standard piece of paper. It had a bunch of picture icons on it. When you pushed one, it would say what letter the picture started with and what the picture was. “A. A. A is for apple.” “B. B. B is for banana.” Etc.
Most kids would go through it once and call it a day.
His favorite letter at the time? Q.
Our area on the beach sounded something like this:
“Q. Q. Q is for Queen. Q Q Q Q Q Q Q is for. Q Q Q Q Q Q is for Quee-. Q Q Q Q Q is for Queen. Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q is. Q Q Q Q Q Q is. Q Q Q Q Q is for. Q Q Q Q Q is. Q Q Q Q Q Q is for Queen.”
And that’s only a 15 second snippet of what could go on for hours. Over and over and over.
It didn’t bother us. We heard it, but the way you hear a bird chirping when you’re running errands or taking a walk. You hear it, subconsciously acknowledge it, and go on with your life.
Our thought process was if we could hear it, we knew Dude was present and safe.
We didn’t see a problem with it until one year, our Pop Pop, who typically doesn’t have a lot to say, leaned forward in his chair to address our parents.
“Could somebody take that damn toy away from him?” he asked.
I was reminded of this on 4th of July as I slowly became aware of the beeping of Dude’s new recording device. I don’t know how long it took me to notice it, but Dude was pressing the recording button rapidly, creating staccato beeps.
I looked around the group gathered on the deck, trying to read facial expressions and determine if anyone was annoyed by the sound.
But then I looked at my brother’s calm, smiling face and decided everyone was just going to have to suck it up 🙂