The school bell was my enemy

by Kevin Hosseini

Kevin Hosseini
Kevin Hosseini

What I remember first about school was the bell in the hallway. Any time it rang and I was close to it I became agitated and scared. The bell hurt my ears. It startled me so much I got angry and felt like kicking or hitting or yelling. I wanted to take the pain away and give it to somebody else.

Everyday I’d go to the cafeteria for lunch. There was also a bell by the cafeteria. The bell rang and hurt my ears. I’d cover my ears and I couldn’t eat. The bell made me angry and I felt like kicking or hitting or yelling.

The bell was outside the boy’s bathroom. I didn’t go to the bathroom because I was afraid the bell would ring. My mom tells me it wasn’t until I had therapy for my ears that I was able to go to the regular boy’s bathroom at school. I held my pee and went to the bathroom at home.

The teacher told me the bell was for a reason. It told the kids when it was time to go to class, time for recess, time for lunch, and time to go home. For me the bell was the most scary thing at school. I thought the bell was used to hurt my ears. I thought they were punishing me.

One day the bell went off and wouldn’t stop. It seemed to go on forever. All the kids got up and it was chaos. The teacher told me to get in line. The bell didn’t stop. I covered my ears. I wanted the bell to stop so I kicked a girl in line. “Fire Drill” someone told me. I didn’t know what fire drill meant. That’s when I learned that the bell went off if there was a fire in the school. Sometimes we’d pretend there was a fire but there wasn’t a fire. The bell still scared me.

Another day we had a fire drill in the morning. It made me agitated. It rang and rang and rang. Now I knew that bell was for fires! Then I went to lunch and the bell rang again. I screamed. I thought we were having a fire. I yelled and yelled and yelled. Somebody grabbed me and held me so I couldn’t hit or kick. I screamed more because I thought the school was on fire.

They called my mom to pick me up. 

The bell bothered me until I was in the 6th grade.


Kevin Hosseini’s website is 

2 replies on “The school bell was my enemy”
  1. This is the sort of information individuals on the spectrum and their families need to share with others. None of us who know Kevin knew about his fear of school bells until he shared it last week and he’s twenty years old! I wonder how the frightened Special Ed teacher in Carpinteria missed that. In so many ways, as a culture, we are woefully inept in the face if dealing with differences. We are too quick to judge/criticize/blame, way too narrow in our notions of what is. Kevin’s story about the havoc the noise of school bells wreaked on his psyche when he was growing up is significant. It reminded me that I too was ALWAYS started by their loudness. And, when they rang, I ALWAYS felt at least a smidgen of fear. Thanks, Kevin, for reminding me of that. Do school bells have to be THAT loud? Are there other, more pleasant sounds that could be used to signal transitions from one class to another, to recess, or an emergency of one kind or another? Why not?

  2. says: Joanna

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. This will help many people who love people with auditory sensory issues to understand what is happening when alarms and bells go off. Please continue to share and best of luck to you.

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