Our sensory kit on a clip consists of:
- Loop Earplugs concert ear plugs
- Matador Equipment ear plug case
- Mack’s slim fit foam ear plugs
- Apple AirPods Pro
- JRW Gear G-Flex clip
Check out these autistic odes to noise-cancelling headphones. They imply a lot about neurology and how misguided behaviorism is. The thesis that introduced neurodiversity to academia called computers an “essential prosthetic device for autistics“. That they are. A decent set of noise-cancelling headphones is another essential device. I remember my first pair of noise cancellers. They were a revelation in sensory management. I wish they existed when I was in school, along with comfortable foam ear plugs and concert ear plugs. Normalize these in our classrooms, and get them to our autistic and sensory overloaded students.
The Sonic Bliss of Quintessential Autistic Gear: Noise Cancelling Headphones » NeuroClastic
- It felt like I was turning the world’s volume down to a more tolerable level… Glorious.
- I cried for an hour! The relief was more profound than I could have imagined.
- Astonishment. I had NO idea I was struggling with noise until the noise was gone. I never, ever go to public places without them now. I have SO many more spoons without having to fight to focus.
- It set me free. I am able to participate in a lot more social events typical for people my age (pubs, clubs, and political protests).
- Oh my G-d, it was magical. They’re like sunglasses for your ears!!! I never leave the house without mine now.
- I cried. It finally gave me some power over my surroundings.
- The very first time? I was in Curry’s and tried a pair. I felt so emotional. It was like sucking all of the noise out of my head and sending it away. It was absolute bliss, and I had to buy them. I didn’t have to process all of the noise for the first time ever. I wondered if that’s how NT’s felt. I could concentrate and hear myself think.
I’ve had AirPods Pros for several years now. They are pocketable and effective sensory regulation that is always with me. Noise-cancellation in such a portable package is a boon to my sensory management. Again, I wish I had them in my K-12 years. They would have changed my life and avoided some meltdowns and burnout.
Note: noise-cancelling headphones are not for everyone. They can aggravate hyperacusis and misophonia. If you can, try noise-cancellation from different manufacturers to see if one is more compatible with you. I’m fortunate to be compatible with the Sony, Sennheiser, and Apple noise-cancellation I’ve tried. They all work for me.
I can’t sleep or endure noisy spaces without foam ear plugs. I take them everywhere. I’m currently using Wirecutter’s top recommendation, Mack’s Slim Fit Soft Foam Earplugs. The most common complaint we hear with foam ear plugs is that they create too much pressure in the ear canal. These slim fit plugs fix that.
Concert ear plugs are great when we want to reduce the overwhelm of overlapping conversations and noises while still being able to hear in front of us.
Noise-canceling headphones + foam ear plugs + concert ear plugs = good coping for us hypersensory neurodivergents. After lots of iteration, we arrived at our sensory kit on a clip, featuring the G-Flex Clip, which opens with an accessible pinch. Hook it to a belt loop. Hook it to a bag. Dangle it in your pocket. Clip it to a lanyard. Toss it in a pouch. Fling it in a sling.
Sensory experiences can be complex and although some sensory experiences can be enjoyable for individuals, other experiences can be very distressing (Elwin et al., 2012; Forsyth & Trevarrow, 2018). In particular, sensory hyperreactivity can greatly impact quality of life and has been found to correlate with clinically elevated levels of anxiety in both autistic children and adults(Carpenter et al., 2018; Green et al., 2012; Green & Ben-Sasson, 2010; Hwang et al., 2019; MacLennan et al., 2020). It is therefore unsurprising that aversive sensory environments have been suggested to be a barrier for autistic adults engaging in spaces, both public and occupational (Amos et al., 2019). Therefore, understanding the complexities of sensory experiences has important implications for autistic people’s physical and mental wellness, social inclusion, and future prospects.PsyArXiv Preprints | In our own words: The complex sensory experiences of autistic adults