May 9, 2024 - News

Tips for dealing with auditory overload of cicadas

Illustration of a map of the United States with cicadas crawling towards it.

Illustration: Maura Losch, Shoshana Gordon and Will Chase/Axios

The cicadas are coming, but people with Autism Spectrum Disorder may not be excited for the very loud creatures to emerge.

The big picture: The trillions of cicadas expected this month are harmless but very loud, something that can be especially disturbing for the estimated 5.5 million people in the U.S. who have sensory sensitivities.

Reality check: The sounds of the broods are described as high-pitched, reaching nearly 100 decibels, which is louder than a blender or lawnmower, according to CBS News.

Zoom in: Keshet, a Northbrook-based nonprofit that works with people with disabilities, has some tips on preparing children and adults for the onslaught:

  • Reassure them that cicadas are harmless and don't sting or bite.
  • Find a recording of cicadas to play on your computer to prepare.
  • Test out noise-canceling headphones.
  • Create a story about cicadas with pictures and words to help strip some of the fear and anxiety of the unknown.

The bottom line: It's an exciting event in nature, but practice patience and understanding.

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