Wearing the right kind of headphones can help autistic children deal with overwhelming sounds and noises from the environment.
You may have heard from other parents that headphones can help autistic children.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- what kind of headphones work best for autistic individuals
- why headphones are helpful for autistic children
- where it is a good place to wear the headphones
- a list of headphones
Let’s take a closer look.
What is Autism?
Autism is a broad range of developmental differences that can cause social, behavioral, and communication challenges.
Autism is not a disease but a life-long condition.
As the parent of a autistic child, you know that they learn things, solve problems, and interact with others differently.
How Do Headphones Help Autistic Kids?
The human brain receives information through the senses. The ears, for example, receive sound waves. These sound waves are sent to the nerve endings inside the cochlea. These nerve endings send the information to the brain, which then interprets the information as sound.
Children with ASD process sound differently. According to the STAR Institute, around 75% of children with ASD also have sensory processing disorder. Some children are hypo-sensitive, which means they need to be overstimulated. Others are hypersensitive, which poses a lot of coping challenges.
Some children with ASD are particularly hypersensitive to sound. For them, one-off sounds like a door closing or a toilet flushing can be startling or even frightening. What may be tolerable background noises for us, such as a clock ticking or an air-conditioner humming, can be too loud and distracting.
Autistic children who are hypersensitive to sound have a hard time concentrating or relaxing because of the constant distraction. They also end up with sleep disorders because they get woken up in the middle of the night by various sounds.
Why your child needs noise-canceling headphones
Noise-canceling headphones block out background noise. This minimizes the sound that reaches your child’s ears. The headphones detect the incoming soundwaves and emit a signal that cancels them out.
These headphones are safe for children because they allow music to be played at lower volumes. Children who are exposed to higher volumes are more prone to developing noise-induced hearing loss.
Wearing noise-canceling headphones can help your child focus on his tasks, play with others, and relax. A comfortable pair will also help him get a good night’s sleep, especially if used to play relaxing music.
Research has shown that children with ASD can better deal with noise when they use noise-canceling headphones.
How to choose headphones for autistic children
The best children headphones should be comfortable. This is crucial if you want your child to wear his headphones. The ear cups must be snug but not too tight around your child’s ears. An adjustable padded headband also ensures a better fit.
It’s best to get wireless headphones. Wired headphones aren’t the best for children who like to move around. You don’t want your child tripping on tangled wires or choking on the cables.
Where Will Headphones Be Useful?
Noise-canceling headphones help your child navigate noisy places he frequently goes to, such as the school cafeteria.
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), noise levels inside a school cafeteria can go up to as much as 101 decibels (dB). That’s as loud as a lawnmower.
Adults must not exceed eight hours of listening to a maximum sound level of 85 dB. If they do, they need to wear hearing protectors. There’s no official word on the safety threshold for children, but it’s likely to be far lower than 85 dB.
Your child should also wear his headphones when going to the movies or a concert, where noise can go anywhere from 85 to 105 dB.
But even in less noisy places, such as shopping malls, grocery stores, and restaurants, your child should still bring his headphones. Although noise levels at these places are lower at 70 to 85 dB, the noise can still feel overwhelming for a child with ASD.
The PuroQuiet noise-canceling headphones is a great option for an autistic child. It has active noise-canceling (ANC) that you can turn on or off with a switch. With ANC, the headphones can reduce sound by up to 22 dB so your child doesn’t have to be overwhelmed by background noise and startling sounds.
These wireless Bluetooth headphones have a battery life of 16 hours with ANC and 22 hours without noise-canceling.
An alternative to PuroQuiet is the NoiseLESS Earphones. These are made specifically for children who are hypersensitive to sound.
NoiseLESS Earphones have a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 26, which means they can reduce sound by up to 26 dB in laboratory settings. In real-world scenarios, the noise reduction will be less than 26 dB, but the headphones will still be useful in helping your child block out distracting noise.
Noise-canceling headphones can be a godsend for children. They help reduce loud noises so that your child can relax and focus better. Look for high-quality headphones like the PuroQuiet and NoiseLESS Earphones. These are designed to help children who are hypersensitive to loud sounds deal with noise.