Why Do Autistic People Wear Headphones? [Everything You Should Know]

According to most experts in autism research, Autism Spectrum Disorders impact up to 1% of the population, and as diagnosis improves, the true proportion may be a bit higher.

Only a few years ago, ASD was a little-understood disorder; now, we know a lot more about how it impacts people and how to cope.

People with ASD absorb information in a slightly different way, and one of the usual side effects is heightened sensitivity to sounds. But why do Autistic People Wear Headphones? In this article, you will know the following answers to the question!

Key takeaway

People with autism may use headphones to shut out excessive noise and sensory inputs, which can make them feel stressed and overwhelmed. It is simpler for autistic persons to concentrate and interact with others when background noise is reduced to a bearable level with the aid of noise-cancelling headphones.


Why do Autistic People Wear Headphones?
Why do Autistic People Wear Headphones?

Quick Answer, Why do Autistic People Wear Headphones?

This study established the efficacy of standard earmuffs and NC headphones in assisting children with ASD to cope with problem behaviors associated with hyper-reactivity to auditory stimuli; hence, children with ASD might utilize earmuffs to help deal with unpleasant sensory auditory stimuli.

Why Do Autistic People Wear Headphones?

According to the STAR institute's research, 75 percent of children with autism display “strong indications of sensory processing dysfunction.”

Given the high correlation and comorbidity rate, our Harkla blog articles focus on providing you with resources and information to assist you to understand how sensory processing disorder presents in your autistic kid and how to support sensory processing to help him/her make sense of it all.

Language delays or deficits, fine and gross motor delays, strong sensory interests, sensory aversions, an inability to interact with people and objects, an inability to stay within an interaction, repetitive sensory stereotypies (stimming), and other symptoms can all be symptoms of sensory processing dysfunction in people with autism.

A person with ASD can eliminate most of the background noise and lower what remains to a reasonable level by wearing noise-canceling headphones, sensory headphones, or ear headsets.

This allows them to focus on other chores, relax, play games with others, and do a variety of other activities that might otherwise be difficult or impossible. A good set of headphones is also comfortable enough to wear in bed if necessary and can assist the wearer in getting a good night's sleep without being disturbed by noise.

Why Noise Is A Problem For Autistic People?

Children with autism who are hypersensitive to sound may:

Feel a gentle conversation taking place at a distance from them, as though the conversation is focused on them. They will not only hear these talks, but they will hear them clearly enough to understand terms that you and I may not hear at all.

  • As a constant distraction, hear background noises such as the humming of the heating unit.
  • Loud or abrupt noises can be perplexing and even physically uncomfortable.

You won't be able to tell which noises are vital and which aren't. Because of their inability to identify which noises to pay attention to, autistic youngsters might become hypervigilant, easily distracted, and anxious.

Because this is your child's daily experience, it is doubtful that they will even think to notify you that this is happening. Children will believe that you perceive the world in the same way they do, just as you expect others to experience it in the same manner you do.

Why Noise Is A Problem For Autistic People?
Why Noise Is A Problem For Autistic People?

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How Noise Cancelling Headphones Or Earmuffs Can Help Autistic People?

By efficiently blocking out invading noises from the outside world, noise-canceling headphones or earmuffs can help your youngster focus on the job at hand.

These headphones' technology can fully filter out distractions such as quiet talks in different parts of the classroom. They can help lessen the impact of sudden or loud noises, which may be unsettling to a youngster with autism. You might want to think about it:

A good pair of noise-canceling headphones should be able to block enough of the incessant noises bombarding your child's ears to allow them to focus on the job at hand while also reducing the noises that do come through to a manageable level.

The noise reduction rating (NRR) in decibels indicates how much noise a pair of headphones eliminates (dB). The degree of noise reduction your child needs will be determined by how sensitive he or she is to noises. Some children will require more noise-canceling headphones than others.

Aside from simply canceling invasive noises, certain headphones can also produce soothing sounds to cover disturbances that headphones are unable to block. If your child suffers from anxiety, you may wish to invest in a pair of headphones that emit soothing noises.

Because children on the autism spectrum can be extremely sensitive to the pressure and texture of headphones, you should pay close attention to how the headphones sit on your child's head. The majority of children prefer headphones that totally cover their ears.

To totally eliminate noise, Headphones should be snugly fitted to your child's head. However, the finest headphones for your youngster are those that can be worn comfortably for extended periods of time. To pick the finest pair of headphones for your child, you may need to balance comfort and noise cancellation.

Many children and most teenagers are fashion conscious. Purely practical headphones may work great for small children, but as they grow older, you may find yourself having to make stylistic concessions.

The Best Headphones or Earmuffs for Autistic Children

1. Isolation Headphones for Children by Vic Firth:

These well-reviewed (4.5 out of 5 stars) shoes are extremely light. Although the headband of these simple headphones cannot be adjusted, they are constructed with spacious, well-padded earcups that rotate to accommodate a wide range of head sizes.

These no-nonsense headphones, which cost $26.99 on Amazon, have a noise reduction rating of 22dB. Customers complain that, while these headphones cancel out background noise and lower neighboring voices to a reasonable level, they do not provide enough noise cancellation for youngsters who are extremely sensitive to sound. The one-size-fits-all design is ideal for older children and teenagers.

2. b- Calm Headphones:

The National Autism Resources b-Calm headphones cost $139 and have earbuds that play “acoustic shield” soundtracks. These soundtracks use white noise to help you relax. The b-calm headphones' earmuffs were purposefully designed to be comfortable to use for extended periods of time.

These headphones, which are not noise-canceling, are best used when a distracting level of white noise can help your youngster. Customers report that these headphones are useful in scenarios such as extended bus rides.

Customers who expected noise-canceling headphones have reported dissatisfaction with the degree of noise these headphones allow through, despite the fact that they have received positive reviews (four out of five stars).

3. Ear Muffs for Comfort Wear:

The National Autism Resources Comfort Wear Ear Muffs are $29.99 and were developed for all-day wear. They offer a 27-decibel noise reduction rating and comfortable foam cushioned earmuffs that go over your child's ears.

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Customers report that these earmuffs are particularly effective in masking upsetting noises such as thunderstorms. Customers say these earmuffs are comfy enough to wear all night (five or five stars) and are exceptionally favorably reviewed (five or five stars).

4. Banz Headphones for Babies:

These headphones, which are available on Amazon for $34.95, are specifically developed for children aged newborn to 24 months. These vibrant headphones feature a noise-canceling rating of 31dB.

These well-rated (4.5 out of 5 stars) headphones include extra soft cushioning to protect your child's fragile ears and are comfy enough for bedtime. Customers say these comfy headphones are great for blocking out the loud noises associated with fireworks displays and music events.

5. Muted Designer Hearing Protection for Infants and Kids:

These brightly colored folding headphones are meant to cover your child's ears and have a padded headband for all-day comfort. These well-reviewed Headphones (4.5 out of 5 stars) have a noise reduction rate of 27dB and cost $24.99.

These folding headphones may be packed into a backpack or diaper bag and taken with you wherever you go. Although the majority of customers were pleased with these colorful headphones, some had difficulties unfolding and placing them on young children.

6. Skullcandy Venue Active Noise Cancelling Headphones:

Skullcandy offers a well-reviewed (4.5 out of 5 stars) headphone priced at $179.99 for older children and young adults searching for something out of the norm. These headphones include a lightweight design, soft memory foam ear cushions that contour to your child's ears, and an adjustable headband for a perfect fit.

These headphones have a Bluetooth range of 30 meters, allowing your child to walk around while still linked to a computer or tablet. Ideal for teenagers and older youngsters who wish to enjoy their audio hobbies while still controlling outside noise.

These high-quality headphones allow your youngster to regulate their environment while also making a fashion statement. It should be mentioned that reviews indicate that these headphones may enhance bass sounds for those who have a genuine interest in music.

Some customers have also reported hearing hissing when no audio is playing. When necessary, these wireless headphones can be charged by connecting them to a power source.

The Best Headphones or Earmuffs for Autistic Children
The Best Headphones or Earmuffs for Autistic Children

The Difference Between Sensory Defensiveness And Sensory Over-Responsiveness For Autistic People

A child with an over-responsive kind of sensory processing disorder or sensory issues has a low threshold for sensory stimuli, which means that it doesn't take much to overload, overstimulate, irritate, or avoid him. This child is extremely sensitive to sensory input.

This hypersensitivity to sensory input inhibits the child's willingness to play, explore, and feel safe or comfortable in his environment.

This over-responsivity is known as “sensory defensiveness” because the youngster frequently defends himself (emotional or behavioral response), avoids, or attempts to reduce exposure to unpleasant sensations. Sensory defensiveness can be evident in any or all sensory systems, and the kid will avoid or get irritated by sensations, evoking a physiological response known as “fight, flight, or freeze.”

Some children's sensory aversions are limited to a single type of sensory input. A youngster who seeks oral input may constantly lick or mouth non-food objects, whereas a child who avoids oral input may eat a very limited diet of specific textures.

When a youngster is too sensitive or defensive to auditory input, he may avoid noisy, crowded environments, cover his ears when loud noises such as the vacuum or toilet flushing occur, or be startled by sudden sounds. These youngsters overreact to auditory information, which adds to self-regulation difficulties.

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Auditory sensitivities can result in sensory overstimulation and, in extreme cases, sensory overload. This necessitates the inclusion of auditory sensory instruments in your sensory toolkit for use at home, school, and on the go!

Watch this: Why do autistic people cover their ears?

Conclusion on Why do Autistic People Wear Headphones

The capacity of the headphones to reduce noise is obviously critical. Most models are quite successful at canceling low-frequency sounds but are less effective at canceling higher-frequency sounds.

Unfortunately, many of the noises that are the most bothersome to persons with ASD are high pitched, and children's hearing is considerably more sensitive to high frequencies than adults'.

That implies you should opt for full-spectrum noise-canceling headphones or noise reduction headphones, such as the Solitude WX1. For the greatest results, headphones capable of lowering sounds by at least 25 decibels are necessary.

It is critical that headphones, like any other support mechanism, are not worn all the time but are readily available when needed. Always keep a supply of spare batteries (if not rechargeable) on hand, as the noise-canceling device will stop operating once the battery runs out.

If at all feasible, keep an extra pair of headphones on hand. Until recently, most noise-canceling headphones were geared at the high-end audio market and were very expensive, usually costing above $300 for a good pair.

However, prices have dropped and high-quality headphones like the Plane Quiet Platinum can now be purchased for less than $50.

If you're the parent of an autistic child or autistic yourself, you'll know that finding coping strategies can be difficult, and there's no one-size-fits-all solution, but there's growing evidence that noise-canceling headphones work very well for many people where hypersensitivity to sound is a problem.

Autistic People Wearing Headphones
Autistic People Wearing Headphones

FAQs About Autistic People Wearing Headphones

Do headphones aid in the treatment of autism?

They can also be a useful tool for children who have autism and/or SPD. The child hears just desired sounds and conversations while wearing the headphones. Depending on the quality of the headphones, they can assist the youngster concentrate by blocking some or all distracting background sounds.

Why do autistic people put their hands over their ears?

When people on the autism spectrum are overwhelmed, they may cover their ears to try to filter out the sounds. They may also begin to engage in self-soothing actions like rocking or shaking their hands.

Do autistic individuals listen to music?

Children with ASD are driven to participate in music activities, and it can be a preferred medium in which to operate. They flourish in a structured environment, and music satisfies this desire for structure and routine. To begin with, children with ASD appear to appreciate musical experiences because they are frequently “excellent at it.”

Why does my autistic child leap around?

Typically, developing children stim as well, such as when a toddler leaps up and down in delight. Children with ASD, on the other hand, will behave in this manner for a longer period of time or may combine numerous behaviors at once, such as flapping hands, shrieking, and jumping up and down.

Is it true that autistic persons are better singers?

“Our vocal imitation research reveals something similar: Autistic people fared better at copying the structure of a melody (relative pitch) than the exact form (absolute pitch).” And this is significant when considering music in a broader cultural context.

Trina Oralde

I'm a tech writer and contributor who covers the latest in gadgets and technology. I keep my finger on the pulse of the tech world, so you don't have to. Stay up-to-date on the latest with me!


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