Janey has a signature sound. I've mentioned it in the past. It's hard to put into writing, but it's something along the lines of "AHHHHahhhAHHHHahahaAHHHH" It's a loud sound, and not musical, although she is so often singing and very sweet sounding. This sound, though, is guttural. She makes it mostly when she's in movement, walking or running or jumping. When she is watching a video or in the car, she doesn't make it. It's like it's a motor that gets her moving. She seems also to make it more in public than at home. It can be used to locate her. Often, in a store, Tony will walk around with Janey while I shop, and if I need to find them, I just listen for the sound. At afterschool, when she has been called to the office to come home, I can hear her being brought to me by the sound.
We are a fairly loud family. My husband often sings or whistles to himself, and the boys and I joke about knowing he's on his way when we hear his whistle. William plays guitar a very lot, and often carries his guitar around the house, so music announces his entrance. When Freddy was little, he had a sweet hum he hummed while playing. I don't think I have a sound, but maybe I do and don't realize it. So Janey might come by her sound naturally.
I worry, though, about how the sound instantly signals something is odd about her. If she was just walking with us, holding our hand, she might not seem much different than any 8 year old at first glance. You'd figure out pretty quickly once you tried to talk to her that she was different, or once she started jumping or running, but you'd have the moment first of just seeing her as a "normal" kid. The sound, though, make it apparent even before you actually see her that she is different. As she gets older, I see reactions to it, people looking at her, and sometimes looking annoyed.
I have no idea how to keep Janey from making her sound. It's not something I've seen addressed in anything I've read about autism. I know I've heard a few other kids with various special needs that seemed to make noises, but none quite like Janey. I doubt she has any awareness of what she sounds like. I don't think it would be at all easy to stop her from making the sound while letting her understand that talking is okay. There's no way to explain distinctions like that to her. She simply wouldn't get it.
And does she need to stop? Since she doesn't make it usually except when moving around, she is not doing it, I don't think, in class or at times that there isn't other noise around. It's loud when outside, but other kids are yelling or talking loudly outside, and she's no louder than them.
I think the sound is not going anyplace. It's part of her. It's more my issue than hers, as is the case with so many things. I wish she didn't make it, because it sounds weird. That's the bottom line truth. Maybe in some little way, I love the brief moments when she can pass as a typical kid, when people can see only a sweet, pretty little girl, and the sound stands in the way of those rare moments. The sound isn't hurting her, it isn't hurting others, it's really a non-issue, but still, I admit, it bothers me. I need to work on that, not her.