Monday, February 18, 2013

Best headphones for kids with autism and sensory issues


This is a portrait Sabrina recently drew of Max wearing his headphones. They've become as essential to Max's wardrobe as shirts and shoes. As in, he won't leave home without 'em.


I get emails asking what kind of headphones Max wears. They're Howard Leight Leightning earmuffs. They run $25, but they're kind of priceless because they've been an incredible help to him and our family, too. He's more comfortable venturing to new places like museums and restaurants, and less likely to melt down.


We use these Skullcandy headphones to plug into Max's iPad, but we limit their usage because he could happily spend hours watching Disney Cruise videos on YouTube. I don't think it's great for him to zone out like that, though there are far worse things he could be watching.


The first headphones Max ever got were the 3M Peltor Junior Earmuff; they worked well but over time the wire got bent out of shape, and we decided to try other ones.

Max still gets wary at the sight of crowds, but the noise-blocking earmuffs are amazingly comforting. In fact, they've given him so much confidence that sometimes he tells us it's OK to leave them at home. (We keep a spare pair in the trunk, in case of sensory emergency.)

I've tried them on, and they really do block out a whole lot of noise—not all of it, but it's very muffled.  Me, I wouldn't mind a pair of my own to block out whining.

15 comments:

  1. This comes at a great time -- I was just looking for headphones for my son. Thank you!

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  2. Charlie refuses headphones, small and large. I think he finds a big 'disjoint' when he can't hear what's going on!

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  3. We have a pair of Peltor headphones for Samantha, and it's just SUCH a relief to know we've got them handy, *just in case.* They were $11.00 on the Peltor website, in the Junior size.

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    1. We used to use Peltor ones, they are a bargain!!! We like the Howard Leight ones more only because the earmuffs are a bit more padded and comfy for Max.

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  4. I am so glad that they are working well for Max and allowing him to have more fun. Did you ever try out the foam earplugs? Those take a bit more getting used to, but they do the trick, too. Muffle the sound as opposed to eliminate it.

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    1. We got them after you recommended them, but since the headphones have been such a hit we haven't used them with Max! Dave likes to wear 'em on flights.

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  5. We just got the Peltor headphones for my daughter, who is supposedly "neurotypical" but has such sensory issues around sound. She likes them especially for the color - she has them in hot pink! I think the trick is getting them to really love them for what they look like, and for her, the hot pink really did it!

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  6. Headphones are like magic for our son! He puts them on when he is feeling nervous and they help him get the courage to go new places! Thank God for them!

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  7. I wonder if it's an individual thing I have CP and I've never had many sensory issues.

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    1. For Max, I think his sensory issues have to do with the parts of his brain affected by the stroke.

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  8. Ellen, thank you for sharing your (and Max's) experience with the earmuffs. It's such a simple and relatively inexpensive thing to try, and like you both have shown, it can make a big positive difference in the family's lives.

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  9. Does anyone know if the child has to take the headphones off in order to hear the parent speaking? Both my son's are verbal but have huge sensory issues, so taking them off and on may be a problem if I need to communicate with them in a store.Thank you

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    1. Max can still hear me with the headphones on, because he looks at my lips when I talk and also because I talk a little louder when they are on.

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  10. thanks for all of your comments regarding the headphones. I will give it another try with my daughter.

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Thanks for sharing!