The Best Sensory Headphones for Autists

So, you’ve been researching the best sensory headphones to help manage autism and sensory overload. You’ve read about their significant role in ASD management and are ready to invest in a pair.

But with so many options available, how do you know which are the best sensory headphones for autism? And more importantly, how do you choose the right ones for adults or kids?

Let’s delve into the world of noise-reducing sensory headphones and explore the top choices to help you make an informed decision.

Sensory Headphones’ Role in Autism and Sensory Overload Management

Woman with autism wearing sensory headphones

Sensory headphones are designed to enhance the user’s sensory experience by blocking out triggering auditory factors and allowing them to focus on specific sounds or silence.

These nifty gadgets have been making waves in the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other sensory processing disorders, addressing their unique sensitivities and transforming the way they interact with sound.

So, how exactly do sensory headphones help with autism? Let’s dive in!

Reducing Sensory Overload

One of the most significant advantages of sensory headphones is their ability to reduce sensory overload. By effectively blocking out external sounds or diminishing their volume, these headphones provide a much-needed respite for those easily overwhelmed by their auditory environment.

No more cringing at the bustling city’s cacophony or the crowded room’s clamor—sensory headphones are here to save the day!

Improving Focus

For individuals with ADHD or other attention-related issues, sensory headphones can be a godsend. By minimizing distractions, these headphones help users to hone in on the task at hand, improving focus and enhancing productivity.

A Snug and Cozy Fit

Sensory headphones are designed with the user’s comfort in mind, offering a comfortable fit that can be particularly beneficial for those hypersensitive to touch or pressure.

Promoting Relaxation

Sensory headphones foster relaxation by enabling users to enjoy calming music or sounds, thus providing a personal haven for stress alleviation and peace.

Sensory Headphones and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Sensory headphones can significantly improve the lives of those with ASD by mitigating sensory sensitivities.

Sensory headphones can help alleviate these challenges by:

  • Reducing the intensity of environmental sounds
  • Allowing users to control the volume and type of sounds they hear
  • Providing a comfortable and secure fit tailored to the individual’s needs

However, addressing ASD’s broader challenges, such as social, communication, and behavioral skills, necessitates a comprehensive support plan. This plan, crafted by professionals like therapists and educators, may include therapies like ABA, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and social skills training.

Related articles:

  • The Best Noise-Canceling Headphones for Autism and Sensory Sensitivities
  • Using Headphones to Improve Focus and Concentration

Best Sensory Headphones for Autism

Sensory headphones, especially noise-canceling ones, aid those with autism in managing sound sensitivity and sensory overload.

Below are our top recommendations:

  1. Alpine Muffy Noise Cancelling Headphones for Kids: Specifically designed to shield children from harmful noise.
  2. Snug Kids Earmuffs: Lightweight, adjustable earmuffs in various fun colors, perfect for kids favoring earmuffs over headphones.
  3. ReVO Kids Full Spectrum Electronic Safety Ear Muffs: Excellent, compact ear muffs for children and women, offering hearing protection with an adjustable headband and specially designed ear pads for smaller heads.

Most sensory headphones geared toward autistic kids don’t have volume-limiting features. Our list of safe headphones for toddlers comprises various headphones with volume limiting.

Alpine Muffy Noise Cancelling Headphones for Kids

The Alpine Muffy Noise Cancelling Headphones for Kids are a remarkable auditory accessory specifically designed for children aged 5 to 16—particularly those with autism or sensory issues. These headphones offer a 25dB noise reduction—a significant feature that helps mitigate sensory overload.

Key Features and Technical Specifications:

  • 25dB noise reduction
  • Adjustable headband enveloped in plush fabric
  • Constructed from robust rubber material
  • No batteries required
  • Award-winning Dutch design

The headphones passively reduce noise, allowing children to hear essential ambient sounds. On top of that, the adjustable, fabric-covered headband ensures unmatched comfort. The lack of silicone is also a plus for children with allergies or sensitivities to the material.

Durability is a given, courtesy of the high-quality rubber material used. The absence of batteries eliminates concerns about battery life. The Alpine Muffy headphones are unique due to their award-winning Dutch design and specific target audience—children with autism or sensory issues.

In conclusion, these headphones offer exceptional value for money, providing excellent noise reduction, comfort, and durability. They are a worthwhile investment for parents seeking a reliable solution for their children’s hearing protection needs.

Snug Kids Earmuffs Review

Snug Kids Ear Protection

The Snug Kids Earmuffs are noise-reducing earmuffs for children and toddlers. They offer a noise reduction rating of 25 decibels, ideal for protecting kids from sensory overload in bustling environments like airports or sporting events.

These lightweight earmuffs (6.34 ounces) feature an adjustable metal headband, ensuring a comfortable fit for varying head sizes. They meet European and US safety standards (ANSI S3.19-1974) for hearing protection products, signifying their effective noise reduction capacity.

The ANSI S3.19-1974 standard requires all hearing protection devices to undergo Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) testing. The NRR, a singular numerical rating, signifies the noise reduction capacity of the device, typically ranging between 22dB to 33 dB.

Available in various fun colors, Snug Kids Earmuffs appeal to children, and their affordable price allows parents to purchase multiple pairs for their kids’ sound protection needs.

For those who frequently travel with their children, particularly those on the autism spectrum, and find themselves in loud environments such as airports or shopping centers, Snug Kids Earmuffs can provide them effective noise protection while ensuring comfort and appeal.

ReVO Kids Full Spectrum Electronic Safety Ear Muffs

ReVO Kids Full Spectrum Electronic Safety Ear Muffs

If you want a premium electronic earmuff tailored for smaller heads, perfect for children and women, consider the Pro Ears ReVO Hearing Protection. It has a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 25, ergonomic ear cups, and individual hearing and amplification settings that run on 4N batteries.

Key Features and Technical Specifications:

  • Tailored for smaller heads and ears
  • NRR of 25
  • Robust construction and adjustable headband
  • Super-Sized ProForm leather ear cushions for ultimate comfort
  • Dual circuit board technology for individual hearing and amplification levels for each ear

Comfort-wise, the Pro Ears Revo Hearing protection earmuffs are top-notch. The leather ear cushions offer enough comfort during extended periods of use, whereas the adjustable headband ensures a proper fit for users of all ages.

We valued the uniquely designed ear pads that seal gaps around the ear, ensuring a tight fit for children and smaller adults.

Now, let’s get to the pièce de résistance—the performance. The ReVO earmuffs feature dual circuit board technology. This might sound like tech jargon, but it’s actually a game-changer. This technology allows for individual hearing and amplification levels for each ear, which is a nice touch for those with hearing imbalance.

Please note the ear muffs require 4 N batteries, which are not included in the purchase.

In essence, the Pro Ears ReVO Hearing Protection offers reliable auditory defense, particularly for individuals with autism or smaller heads. These user-friendly, lightweight, and foldable earmuffs are portable and durable, designed to endure regular use.

Noise-Cancelling Headphones for Autistic Adults

Autism noise-canceling headphones aren’t just for kids but also for autistic adults. These can mitigate environmental distress by using passive isolation and advanced technology to reduce ambient noise by up to 25 dB.

The following three headphones offer a combination of comfort, advanced noise reducing technology, and good sonic quality to deal with overwhelming external noise:

  • Sony WH-1000XM4
  • Anker Soundcore Life Q45 Wireless
  • Bose QuietComfort 35 II

If noise-canceling headphones don’t appeal to you, check out our list of top headphones with high passive isolation.

Sony WH-1000XM4

The Sony WH-1000XM4 is a top-tier wireless noise-canceling headphone that delivers exceptional sound quality, comfort, and advanced features. It’s a perfect choice for autistic adults, thanks to its effective noise-canceling capabilities and comfortable design.

Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones stand out with unique features:

  • Quick Attention: Enables brief conversations without removing headphones by covering the right earcup.
  • Ambient Sound Mode: Adjusts ambient sound based on surroundings for situational awareness while listening to music.
  • Multi-device pairing: Allows pairing with two devices simultaneously for easy switching.
  • DSEE Extreme audio upscaling: Optimizes sound based on genre and instrument, supporting LDAC, AAC, and SBC codecs.

Despite their numerous features, these headphones are favored for their bass-rich sound, enhancing genres like EDM and hip-hop. However, the amplified bass may overshadow vocals and instruments. The companion app’s 5-band EQ and presets can adjust the sound profile, though managing the high-bass could be challenging.

Build-wise, the WH-1000XM4 headphones have a premium-looking design and arecomfortable to wear for extended periods. They feature super-soft, pressure-relieving ear pads made of memory foam that evenly distribute pressure and increase ear/pad contact for a stable fit.

All in all, Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones are perfect for autistic adults. They outshine other noise-canceling headphones in the market with their unique features and superior noise reduction.

Anker Soundcore Life Q45 Wireless

Anker Soundcore Life Q45

The Anker Soundcore Life Q45 Wireless headphones are a superior, cost-effective choice for advanced, adaptive noise-canceling headphones. As successors to the Life Q35 Wireless, they feature adaptive ANC for optimal noise isolation, Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity (SBC, AAC, LDAC codec support), a 750mAh battery for up to 65 hours of playback (50 hours with ANC), and a 40mm driver unit size.

The Q45's v-shaped sound profile delivers enhanced thump, rumble, and boom, with bright sibilants. However, a high-mid peak may cause harsh vocals and instruments, while a low-mid dip could thin some mixes.

These durable headphones are not just your run-of-the-mill audio device. They’re a delightful blend of comfort and efficiency, wrapped up in a stylish package with plush memory foam earpads and faux leather lining. They also support fast charging, providing 4 hours of listening from a 5-minute charge.

Unique features include adaptive ANC, LDAC support, and the Anker Soundcore app with a graphic EQ and presets. They’re particularly beneficial for autistic adults, reducing sensory overload in noisy environments with superior noise isolation.

In summary, the Anker Soundcore Life Q45 Wireless headphones deliver exceptional sound quality, comfort, and advanced features.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Bose QC 35 II Wireless

Last on our list is the classic Bose QuietComfort 35 II, a timeless wireless noise-canceling headphone. For autistic adults that spend a hefty amount of time traveling and commuting and cannot stand the noise of a busy daily lifestyle, these are your perfect companion.

Key Features and Specifications:

  • Integrated with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa
  • Three-tier noise cancellation
  • Bluetooth and NFC pairing
  • Dual noise-rejecting microphones
  • Weighs 235.3g
  • Battery life: 20-40 hours

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II provides great sound quality with a low-frequency extension of 10 Hz for a rich bass response. Its comfortable design allows for prolonged use without discomfort, which is heavily endeared by people with ear pain or sensitivity, and the updated ear cushions enhance aesthetics.

With a battery life of 20-40 hours, depending on usage and noise cancellation level, it’s ideal for long flights or extended use. Its standout feature is its integration with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, enabling voice command control.

Don’t get distracted by the fact the Bose QC 35 II is an older generation of noise-canceling headphones; the efficiency of reducing low-end sounds is extremely high (up to 25 dB), making it ideal for autistic adults.

If you need anything to reduce sensory overload and create a comfortable listening environment, buy the Bose QC 35 II.

Ear Protection Ear Muffs For Adults

Woman wearing ear muffs for hearing protection
  • Honeywell Sync Wireless Earmuff with Bluetooth 4.1
  • Mpow 035 Noise Reduction Safety Ear Muffs
  • ProCase Noise Reduction Ear Muffs

Types of Sensory Headphones

Sensory headphones are innovative designs for individuals with heightened auditory sensitivities, such as autism or auditory defensiveness. They range from adult-friendly to kid-friendly volume-limited options in the following types:

  • Active noise cancelling (ANC) headphones
  • Ear plugs
  • Ear defenders

These specialized headphones offer numerous benefits.

Take noise-canceling headphones, for example—utilizing advanced active noise-canceling technology, they effectively mitigate external sounds, providing an unmatched auditory sanctuary for hypersensitive individuals.

For those seeking to reduce noise without music, noise-reducing headphones like ear defenders and ear muffs are perfect. They lower background noise intensity, aiding neurodivergent individuals and those needing focus in noisy environments, such as construction sites.

Earbuds and Bluetooth hearing protection devices provide a discreet, wireless option.

Best Places to Buy Sensory Headphones in the USA

These headphones can be procured from a variety of retailers in the USA:

  1. Amazon: Amazon provides a diverse range of sensory headphones from multiple brands.
  2. Best Buy: Best Buy stocks noise-canceling headphones from renowned brands like Sony and Bose.
  3. Walmart: Walmart sells noise reduction headphones for children with autism, auditory processing disorder, or sound sensitivity.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Sensory Headphones

Sensory headphones offer a plethora of benefits but also come with a few potential drawbacks.

Primarily, they help manage sensory overload by filtering out unnecessary noise, reducing stress and anxiety. They also boost focus by minimizing distracting sounds and enhancing concentration on tasks.

Furthermore, they aid in better social interactions by helping autistic individuals communicate effectively in noisy environments and reduce behavioral responses to loud sounds. They also promote better sleep by limiting external noise and sensory overload.

However, their high cost can be a deterrent, and prolonged use may cause discomfort or potential hearing damage. Most modern ANC headphones feature hybrid ANC technology, which can occasionally produce a high-pitched noise, as reported by countless users.

FAQ

Are Headphones Good for Autism?

Sensory headphones can be beneficial for autistic individuals by reducing sensory overload and anxiety, improving communication skills, increasing alertness, and enhancing focus for learning and calmness. Sensory headphones not only protect hearing but also regulate noise for a manageable sound environment.

Can Kids With Autism Listen?

Autistic children, often hypersensitive to noise, may experience overwhelm and concentration issues. Listening difficulties may arise, but noise-canceling headphones can create a calmer environment, and specific strategies and tools are necessary to manage their auditory processing challenges.

Is Headphone Use Necessary for Children With Autism?

Autism spectrum children don’t necessarily require headphones. Yet, for sensory seekers or those with noise sensitivity, noise-canceling headphones can be advantageous in loud settings. Other options are playing calming sounds through speakers or earbuds or finding quiet spaces.

Can Noise-Cancelling Headphones Alleviate Sensory Overload?

Yes, noise-cancelling headphones can help alleviate sensory overload in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Sensory overload occurs when one or more of the body’s senses experiences over-stimulation from the environment. For individuals with ASD and ADHD, this can often be triggered by loud or sudden noises. Noise-cancelling headphones can lower these noise levels, enabling focus on preferred sounds and lessening anxiety and stress.

While noise-cancelling headphones aid in managing sensory overload, they aren’t a panacea and should be paired with other strategies and treatments.

It’s also crucial that you check the ANC technology of your chosen sensory headphone, as some may be more effective yet prone to high-pitched feedback noise. Hybrid and feedback types are most likely to produce static or loud feedback noise if the plastic seal of the feedback microphone fails.

References

  • Pfeiffer B, Stein Duker L, Murphy A, Shui C. Effectiveness of Noise-Attenuating Headphones on Physiological Responses for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Front Integr Neurosci. 2019 Nov 12;13:65. doi: 10.3389/fnint.2019.00065. PMID: 31798424; PMCID: PMC6863142.