Humming as a Distraction in SchoolQ: My daughter is in 7th grade and she has a habit that is really causing problems socially. When doing independent work in class, she constantly hums. She also does this when doing her homework at home. She’s done this for as long as we can remember, but now in middle school it the kids are teasing her about it. The teachers will often tell her to stop, but my daughter does not even seem to realize she is doing it. Many kids are asking the teachers to sit them away from her. She was diagnosed with auditory processing disorder when she was 7. Is there anything we can do to help her stop?

A: There are several reasons kids might hum, and all of them have to do with improving concentration:

  • They create their own white noise to drown out distracting noises
  • Input on the physical level to help with focus
  • An oral sensory issue where the child needs mouth stimulation to focus
  • The child is anxious and the humming is calming.

Ask your daughter why she is humming. She may very well have an answer and it will give you a clue as to the cause. There are several things that can be done to help her minimize the humming:

  • Wear musician’s earplugs which dampen noises and reduce sound sensitivity.
  • Wear earbuds and listen to music while working.
  • Chew gum if the issue is oral or sensory
  • Let her sit on a yoga ball or wiggle pad if the issue is need for sensory input
  • Teach stress reduction techniques if she is having anxiety in class.

All of these are accommodations that can be written into a 504 or IEP.

Bonnie Landau
Bonnie Landau
Bonnie Landau is a special education advocate and educational consultant in Ventura County, California. Her goal is to help parents find strategies and solutions to help their children succeed in school and in life. Bonnie is the author of Special Ed Mom Survival Guide: How to Prevail in the Special Education Process and Find Life-long Strategies for You and Your Child.