Is it safe to wear noise cancelling headphones for Autism? – The MonteRabbi

Is it safe to wear noise cancelling headphones for Autism?

When you have a kid with sensory processing disorder such as autism, you will find lots of online content as well as specialists who advise that you get your kid some noise cancelling headphones.

One question that will constantly nag your mind is whether noise cancelling is safe for kids with sensory processing disorder and would it also pose a danger when the headphones are worn outside where the kid might not hear oncoming traffic, shout outs or their name being called.

Noise cancelling headphones are safe if worn at appropriate places, have noise reduction rating of between 20 to 26 decibels, have soft padding and not too tight on the child


Let me point out this first, those people telling you that noise cancelling headphones are good are not entirely wrong. Noise cancelling headphones have been found to help kids and even adults who might have sensory overload when they are walking on busy streets, in a music concert or even at school.

Now those headphones are no for style or beauty. It is not like those wearing them want to be hip.

The gadgets help people with autism focus better and avoid stimming or fidgeting. The headphones have been worn by many kids on the autism spectrum disorder with lots of success in calming them down.

How the headphones work is that they either: muffle out excess noise or introduce alternative entertaining noise to cancel out the distracting noises using a concept called active noise control.

Some of the headphones that we have tested and proved to really work in reducing the decibels from loud noise include the snug headphones, b calm headphones for autism as well as the decibel defense which could also be worn by neurotypical people when they are hunting or shooting.

But the question of safety when an autistic kid or teenager is wearing the earmuffs also comes up.

And it does for a good reason.

Because, no one wants to have their kid wearing those earbuds and ending up not hearing cars honking at them or they being waved away from danger, right?

At the same time, you want the earbuds to be in such a way that they would bruise your kid as they are wearing or removing them.

They should be comfortable to wear; not too tight or too loose. At the same time, they need to have soft padding so that they do not cut into your kid’s skin.

So how do you ensure the safety of your noise cancelling headphone?

  • Make sure that the noise reduction rating is between 20 to 26. Not more, not less

All noise cancelling headphones usually have a noise reduction rating (NRR). The NRR should not be less than 20 decibels otherwise it wouild not muffle enough noise from your kid’s ears and so they will not serve the person of keeping the child calm.

At the same time, they should not have a NRR of more than 26 decibels or otherwise they would muffle all sounds so that the kid does not hear anything.

  • Make sure that they have soft padding so as not to hurt your kid

Now this is self explanatory. There are some headphones that have coarse plastic padding that might cut into your child’s skin. You do not want this, do you?

  • Make sure that they are clean and your kid is comfortable wearing them

The headphone need to be clean, disinfected and not too tight for the kid to wear.

James Njenga
James Njenga