While you and I might find the sounds normal when we walk into the local stores, people with autism and sensory processing disorder do not. In fact, they hate going to parties, school lunchrooms, soccer stadiums or any other social gatherings where there will be loud music or lots of people talking. The noise makes them irritated and distracted. They will not be able to concentrate on anything until they have some noise cancelling headphones or earbuds that eliminate the extraneous noise.
Due to over-responsiveness to stimuli, they usually have a reaction called ‘fight, fright or flight’ where the individual just thinks of ways to escape from the too much noise. This could be seen when the person tries to block their ears so that they do not have to be over stimulated by the noise, they create a ruckus as they try to run away and fight off whoever is preventing them from doing so.
Because of this need, we are today going to look at the best noise cancelling headphones for autism. In our review, we look at the effectiveness of the headphones in eliminating background noise, the decibels of noise that is reduced by the headphones (which ideally should be between 20 to 26 dbs), ability to still hear conversations near you as well as the durability of the headphones. Design as well as comfort are also key when investing in the best headphones for autistics.
However when buying noise cancelling devices, you need to consider the environment of your child as well as where they are going to be wearing the noise cancelling headphones at. You do not want them to wear these devices if they are going to cross the road and fail to hear as cars honk them off the road or when their names are called out, sirens are blaring since this could lead to accidents. Some of the places where the child can wear these headphones include:
–In the school cafeteria
Other than headphones which are not at all discrete, one can also use noise reduction earbuds that are more discrete so that you can eliminate noise in rowdy places without people noticing that you are wearing anything.
What to look out for when buying your noise cancelling/reduction headphones for sensory processing disorders
- Noise reduction as opposed to noise cancelling
While most people are looking for noise cancelling headphones, I greatly oppose this as it might cause safety issues. Noise cancelling or blocking headphones cut out all the sounds from the exterior environment. You really do not want this as your child might not hear the honking of cars, fire alarms or their name being called out. You would rather go for a noise reduction gadget with a good NRR that muffles the unwanted sounds.
- Padded headband
Your headband needs to be padded for extra comfort to your child.
- Earmuffs that do not go into the ear
Kids with autism or sensory processing disorder would not want earphones that go into their ears as this could cause a lot of discomfort. The best alternative therefore would be earmuffs that go over the ears without really going in.
- Noise reduction rating in terms of decibels
A good noise reduction rating in terms of decibels or what is popularly abbreviated as NRR is 20-26.
- Proper clamping force
Most of the headphones sold online come with a foldable design for saving on space. You will find that as you unfold and place it over the ears, there is a clamping force that the headphones have. You need to make sure that this clamping force is not too much as to injure or cause discomfort in your child.
- Soft design with no hard edges or corners
Since this will be a gadget that will mostly be used by kids, you want it to be as safe as possible. It is therefore important to check that the edges and corners have a soft design that will not end up bruising or cutting into the tender skin of your child.
Noise Cancelling Headphones for Autistics
So without wasting time, let us delve into our gadgets.
1. Decibel Defense
As the name suggests, these headphones defend your ears from the high decibel noise and deafening volume of blaring music in school parties. They come in different colors and the design too is well accentuated making them a great gift item for autistic teenagers. Their head size is adjustable so they will fit you no matter whether you have a big or small head.
What we Loved about the Decibel Defense headphones
- Wide range of colors
- Great for teenagers owing to the awesome design and wide range of colors
- Effective in cancelling out noise while still making it possible for you to have meaningful conversations with someone near you.
- Good for autistic people who still want to maintain focus despite being in a noisy place that would otherwise distract them.
What we did not like about the Decibel Defense headphones
- One of my autistic students found them to be too tight and the plastic actually tore his ear skin while he was trying to remove them.
2. Fun and Function Noise Reduction Headphones
One thing that I love about Fun and Function company is that they always produce quality products that are suited for children with sensory processing disorder. And so when I learnt that they stock noise reduction headphones, I had to have a look at them so as to know whether they are of high quality as well as effective. And the truth is that Fun and Function, as always, did not disappoint me.
The product does a great job in muffling unwanted background noises so that your kid can concentrate with the task at hand without having to hold their ears in irritation. They are durable and therefore you get true value for your money when you invest in this headset. The Fun and Function headset would be perfect for noisy environments such as when your kid is going to the grocery store, movie theater or restaurant and they want to muffle all the unwanted noise away.
What I loved about the Fun and Function Noise Reduction headphones
- Effective in muffling unwanted sounds
- Quality design
- Easily portable since they are light in weight.
What I did not like about them
- Rather stiff to get your head into.
3. NoiseLESS Earphones
One great thing about the NoiseLESS earphones is that they will reduce external noise by 26 decibels. The plastic outer cover is easily adjustable and will comfortably go round the head of a child without compromising on their comfort. The adjustable cups will comfortably cover the ears of your young one to the maximum so that the headphones completely muffle any unwanted outside noise that might interfere with the focus and concentration of the child. The APS plastic material can also be easily cleaned and is highly durable so you do not have to worry about feeling ripped off when you buy this headset.
Key features of the NoiseLESS Earphones
- Adjustable cups
- Noise reduction by 26 decibels
- Maximum cover on the child’s ears therefore a good fit for autism
- Easy to clean APS plastic material
4. Safety Works Super Soft Earmuffs
As the name suggests, the earbuds are super soft and will therefore be a great fit for your child who wants to muffle any unwanted noise so that they can avoid distractions and auditory senses overload. They have a proven noise reduction rate of 24 decibels, adjustable cups as well as a cushioned headband for extra comfort.
5. 3M Folding Earmuffs
The 3M folding earmuffs are foldable to occupy a small space and once unfolded, will provide a custom fit for your autistic child who wants some noise reduction. With a noise reduction rating of 23 decibels, you are assured that your child will be comfortable and will not get a meltdown due to too much auditory senses overload.