For as long as I can remember, I have hated certain sounds. At first, it was very mild with a few tiny fits of rage every now and then. When I became a teenager, it all started to get more and more severe; I had Misophonia.
I am currently a junior in my local public high school. The beginning of freshman year, my Misophonia was still pretty moderate. But as the year went on, it grew to be severe. Sounds appeared to only spark an extreme negative reaction around my family, and were not as bad in school. That lasted until sophomore year.
During the first week of school, I was already tremendously struggling to cope with sounds in the classrooms; people were eating, sniffling, throat clearly, pen clicking… Just thinking about it makes me cringe. I’d have an anxiety attack every night because I was so afraid to go into school the next day, I’d cry in the restroom, I could hardly pay attention to the lessons in class.
At this point in time, fall of sophomore year, I had been seeing a cognitive behavioral therapist for a few months. I explained my concerns and difficulties with the school environment and she brought up the 504 plan. We contacted my guidance counselor to discuss setting a plan up for me.
Basically, a 504 is a less “demanding” Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). For Misophonia, the sufferer would be allowed to leave the classroom at any time without asking permission from the teacher to explaining his/her absence.
This was just what I needed. After emailing my school guidance counselor, the nurse informed me that she could simply place a medical alert in the teacher’s grade-book. This would allow me to leave the class without the wait and paperwork. An email was also sent out to all of my teachers.
I’ve never been the kind of girl to draw attention to her problems. At the time, only a few people were aware of what I was going through. My main concern with my new “power” was that teachers might forget and ask where I was going, or someone would think I was ditching class. That’s when I got my little orange pass. I was about a 3″ by 1″ laminated bright orange rectangle that I could just slip onto my desk and leave to let the teacher know I needed a couple minutes to reset myself.
I rarely use this now, thanks to other coping mechanisms I have learned (this is my last resort), but it is perfect when I need it.
To students suffering with Misophonia out there, please ask someone for help. You shouldn’t struggle alone.