Pudding hums. I’m not sure that hum is the best way to describe the sound that she makes, but I can’t come up with anything more specific.
I’ve read that many pre-verbal children hum, and that eventually those hums turn into songs, and then more typical language. But Pudding is very verbal, and also likes to sing. The humming has only appeared in the last few months.
This sound, the hum-like noise, is monotonous. It does change pitch on occasion, but for the most part, it is a steady drone. It is almost like the “om” sound that gets chanted in yoga, but much more annoying. I’m sorry to say that I can’t stand it. It needles its way down to my last nerve.
I don’t stop her. Though it drives me crazy, I don’t stop her. It is a stim, and a harmless one at that. Like with her hair-twirling, I feel that if it gives her peace, there is no reason to interfere. But honestly? I can’t take that noise. It is like living with a perpetually annoyed Marge Simpson.
There are various theories as to why kids on the spectrum hum. It may be to block out extraneous noise, or to create noise when the world seems too quiet. Some kids do it when they’re happy, others when they are sad. I’ve tried to figure it out with Pudding, but I’m unable to do so. She hums when places are loud or quiet. She hums when she is happy or sad, and anything in between. The only connection I’ve really noticed is that it seemed to start during these last few months of sleep trouble.
Though I don’t stop her, I can redirect her, and sometimes I do just that. I’ll put on music and encourage her to sing, or we’ll start playing a game. At some point, it occurred to me that she is oblivious, completely unaware that she is humming. I began humming along with her (which she likes) or asking her if she was humming. She still isn’t aware of it, until I point it out, then she stops for a while.
In the meantime I remind myself that there are worse things she could be doing. I try not to mind too much when her little brother joins in. I tell myself that humming makes her happy, and that is enough for me.
On Friday she was humming as she got dressed, and I asked her if humming made her happy. I wanted to discuss things that make people happy, and how we all have different things we like to do. I wasn’t expecting her to say “no.”
My response died on my lips. What if she really doesn’t like it? What if this is a compulsion she can’t fight? The thought made me want to cry, so I quickly changed the subject. Much as I don’t like the sound, I could tolerate it as long as I thought it was soothing or pleasurable for her. What if humming is just another thing that is out of her control, and making her unhappy?
The next day I mentioned it to Spectrummy Daddy. Because she doesn’t seem to be upset when she hums, he was doubtful that it was the case. So we asked her again, and she still said no. Then we asked about other things that we know she likes and dislikes, and her answers remained consistent. She does not like to hum.
So now I’m at a loss. I’m turning to you for advice. Do you hum? Did you hum? Your child? Should I keep pointing it out to her, or ignore it? Is redirecting her pointless, cruel, or necessary?
A final rhetorical question: I’ve never asked my hummingbird if flapping her wings makes her happy, so am I only interfering with this stim because the noise bothers me?