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Wind Turbines and their effects on Autistic Individuals

As the mother of a son with Asperger’s Syndrome (a higher functioning form of Autism), I have taken a special interest in how wind turbines can affect those who deal with this disorder, especially children.  Although Matthew, my son, is now 30 years old, I know he is still highly sensitive to sounds that the rest of us don’t even notice.   As a small boy, he would run screaming and crying, with his hands over his ears, whenever a large truck or piece of equipment would pass by him while he was outside.  To the rest of the world, it would have just been a truck.  But to Matthew, you could tell that not only did the noise scare him, but it hurt him as well.

This extreme sensitivity to sound leads me to believe that children with autism would be especially vulnerable to the infrasound noise and vibrations created by industrial wind turbines, that may not hurt another individual.

According to Dr. Stephen Stansfield:

“Noise sensitivity may be compromised of two elements. Noise is important to noise-sensitive people who attend to noise more, discriminate between noise more, and tend to find noises more threatening and out of their control that people who are not sensitive to noise.

Secondly, because of negative affinity, they react to noises more than less sensitive people, and may adapt to noises more slowly. This may result in a greater expression of annoyance to noises than in less sensitive people.”

From Acoustic Ecology:

“The accepted view is that sensitivity to noise can be considered a stable personality trait,and as such an individual’s tolerance to peripheral sound is measurable on a continuum.  Research in the last decade has demonstrated that individuals report a wide range of different responses to noise ranging from highly tolerant to highly sensitive, though the basis for these individual differences are understudied and poorly understood.

Anontrivial number of individuals are noise sensitive, and suffer impaired health as aresult. It has been estimated that noise sensitive individuals make up approximately 15% of the general population, and more so in certain clinical populations (e.g., brain injury,dyslexia, schizophrenia, autism).

Noise-sensitive individuals characteristically suffer from noise-induced irritability, stress-related disease, headaches, and poor sleep, all of which strongly negate good health and quality of life.

Noise sensitivity has a large impact on noise annoyance ratings, lowering the annoyance threshold by 11 dB (Miedema & Vos, 1999). Furthermore, there is an interaction between noise level and noise sensitivity.

Annoyance scores increase rapidly as noise level increases for those sensitive to noise, whilst it stays relatively flat for those insensitive to noise (Miedema & Vos, 2003). Research also informs us that noise sensitive individuals are particularly vulnerable to low frequency noise.

For example, it has been shown that in noise sensitive individuals the introduction of low frequency noise can boost salivary cortisol levels (Persson et al. 2002). However, while there is a strong correlation between noise sensitivity and annoyance there is a weak correlation between noise sensitivity and noise level (Miedema & Vos, 2003):  “Noise sensitivity changes the influence of noise exposure on noise annoyance, and does not only have an additive effect, i.e., it affects the rate at which annoyance increaseswhen noise exposure gets higher. It also alters reactions other than noise annoyance,such as self-reported sleep disturbance attributed to noise

Some clinical populations experience more severe annoyance reactions, characterised by a complete loss of functional ability in the presence of noise. A large number of psychological disorders (e.g., dyslexia) and injuries (e.g., traumatic brain injury) include noise sensitivity as a debilitating symptom.”

Since Dalton McGuinty and the Liberal party of Ontario has shown a complete lack of concern for disabled individuals, including children with autism, it is up to the parents and physicians familiar with this disorder, to shine the light on the pain and suffering that autistic children could endure if they live too close to Industrial Wind Turbines.  Someone needs to speak for these children who can’t speak for themselves.   Since the Liberal party has no compassion or empathy, we need to find a party that does and ensure that they are the next governing body in this province. — Donna Quixote

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