Noise Cancelling Headphones

Hi there,

My son has Aspergers and learning difficulties.  He is extremely noise sensitive and struggles at school.  I am trying to research the best noise cancelling headphones/ear defenders.  I have bought him some ear defenders on Amazon which he has tried out today but they didnt help.

Any advise would be greatly appreciated.



  • Hi Lettie,

    I'm still experimenting with this a little myself.  Unfortunately, noise cancelling headphones can be a bit expensive, so I'm wary of spending all that money, and then finding them ineffective!

    The reason I say that is because, from talking to many other autistic people with this problem, the range of things that can help is incredibly varied, and very particular to each individual person.

    Like your son, I didn't find ear defenders or ear plugs very effective - my brain just strains itself trying to make sense of the little bit of sound that still gets through, which is not terribly helpful!  Some people have a similar problem with noise-cancelling headphones, as the residual sound can have a peculiar sound to it due to the way that the technology works.

    For many people, wearing headphones that play some sound that masks the outside world works better.  This might be a well chosen playlist of music.  For others, nature sounds like the ocean or bird song work well.  And for others still, synthetic sounds like "white noise" or "radio static" work best - which seems to be the case for me.

    So, be prepared to experiment a little.  If you can find someone who your son can borrow some noise-cancelling headphones from, or a hi-fi shop that does customer demonstrations, you might even be able to "try before you buy."

    Best wishes.

  • For me personally it depends a little on the specific circumstances.  If I need to block out surrounding noise entirely then the best thing is generally music that suits my mood through either proper noise-cancelling headphones (i.e. the ones with the button to turn the nose-cancelling effect on) or well-fitted deep in-ear headphones (which physically block out sounds in much the same way as ear plugs).

    I do use ear plugs but they do not usually block sound completely but rather take it down a notch, which is useful when I may need to hear speech from someone else or for sleep if I need to wake up to my alarm in the morning etc.

    Another tactic to try is to look at ways to make his environment more predictable or to reduce his anxiety or emotional arousal.  I know I tend to find unexpected or inconsistent noise far more disruptive than constant noise and am much more sensitive if I am anxious or feeling vulnerable.

  • I use these:

    They have been a life saver. They are not good for sleeping in though as they are too bulky.

    I also have these:

    They are comfortable and cut out noise to a certain degree when you listen to music. You could maybe try them out at a music shop?

    I also use these:

    They are not so expensive and work really well with music to block out noise. You do have to get used to them in your ear though.

  • One time when I was stressed and couldn't find our way to the Croft for our 8 week assessment I happened upon a centre for sensory issues. 

    I couldn't find it again after assessment but went searching online and this is what I found:

    The Sound Learning Centre in Palmers Green London. 

    If you child is already assessed by an NHS body, then treatment can begin here. The private assessment I had by [removed by moderator] was far more professional and informed than the years trying to find answers in schools with social workers or any other one who'd listen when he was having issues in the class room. 

    I would advise anyone to get an assessment there, the respect and understanding is top class. The report was a thick book and it only took a week to get to me. 

    The cost of the assessment was £395. but well worth it for the EHCP. Although the LEA borrowed it and lost it alledgedly I can always get a copy. I live in [removed by moderator] and it's a nightmare for any child with ASD. Although new schools are on the horizon for 2019, but will they have proper teachers.

    Anyway there are treatments available for Autistic persons, and the Aspergic symptoms can go away as a result.

    There is a wiring issue in the brain or a development issue which [removed by moderator] swears she can sort. Usually kids benefit best if they are young but the treatment can help adults too.

    Look it up, it's worth it and if you don't have money you can apply through someone in your borough or [removed by moderator] will advise you on which charity to apply to.

    Best of luck to you all.  

    (*This post has been edited by a moderator to comply with the community rules)

  • Thanks for this thread.  I don't know if it would be a good idea to get some noise cancelling headphones or not.  They are obviously very expensive and have other drawbacks.  I can't wear anything that goes inside my ears, but it would also be useful to have some sort of headphones to wear outside, as well as inside.  Apart from making me feel ok, if I want to play music to listen to, or anything else, it is important that it isn't bothering those around me so anything that leaks noise isn't worth bothering with.

  • My adult son is autistic, he has noise cancelling headphones and listens to either music or calming sounds, he has an app called calm which has lots of calming sounds. He also just wears them without music to reduce noise when he’s at college so he can hear his teacher and lsa but it limits loud noises etc as he has sound sensory issues with most loud noises such as drilling, beeping horns etc. The headphones cost around £50 but have made a bassive difference for him. I got wireless ones as he tends to fall asleep listening to the calm app and I didn’t want him wrapping the wire all around him. Hope this helps x

  • When the noise really gets to me, I use industrial ear protectors, the kind you can get at a hardware store quite cheaply for blocking out the noise from power tools and such. Even though they lower the sound by 30dB, I can still carry on a conversation with them on, but I think that's because my hearing is really good.

    If you want noise cancelling headphones, I recommend Sony or Bose. I use those on airplanes. I really hate sticking things in my ears so I prefer not to use earplugs or earbuds, but noise cancelling earbuds are even more effective than noise cancelling headphones because they block a lot of sound before you even turn them on.

  • Hello!  Sorry, i'm really late to this discussion. I've never been tested to see if I am autistic but I've never really liked loud noises.  I fly long distance every so often as my fiancée lives in the USA. I bought some Lindy noise cancelling headphones for the flight (

  • Hello, my 6yr old boy with Autism and is sound sensitive / light sensitive.
    I realise this post is old but felt this answer might still help people in the future like this site has helped me so many times.

    I have tested many headphones with him but to be honest, for most of them he says he can still hear "the noises". The headphones don't really stop noise, they muffle it which I'm sure is great for most people BUT, for my son, that wasn't enough as he could still here the muffled things he didn't want to hear.  This isn't great if you still need to hear the teacher but for him, it wasn't listening to people one to one that was the issue, but more the inability to escape from the noises if he really needed to - completely escape, so he could calm down.

    You can read lots about "white noise" which can help people concentrate on a sound and blank out the other sounds as a distraction. So, sometimes, muffling the noises doesn't always help - but distracting them away into noises they like CAN help.  The cheap 3M's do the same work as the expensive ones so just go for the 3M if you want to try mufflers.

    Boring Techy Bit (because I was obsessed with finding a solution)

    Anyway, given I needed to find simple headphones that could play distraction sounds, I then went looking for Noise cancelling headphones that could also play music into them wirelessly - meaning, you could stick an SD Card into them and it would play the mp3 music on them - no cables, easy turn on, easy turn off and nothing for your child to mess around with and create complications.

    This was actually a nightmare to find - you can get BlueTooth ones, wired ones, Noise Cancelling ones (but only so you can hear your bass music into them - not for playing soft music).

    Finally, I decided to make my own so....

    I bought these (yes they are expensive)

    >  Removed the 3 buttons for "FM Radio" + BlueTooth Mode (literally popped them out with a flat scredriver)
    >  Replaced the gap with some cool black mouldable plastic (its like putty and goes hard) - Shape it into hole, pop it out, add loads of glue, pop it back in.

    >  Issue then was that the music ALWAYS started at full blast volume with deep bass which then involved fiddling with buttons to turn it down each time. So to solve this, I took the ear pieces apart (really easy - clips apart with 4 screws underneath) and placed some foam over the speakers so they touched the vibrating part which not only softened the bass but also reduced the volume to a nice level - meaning you could just turn them on, they started auto-playing music and they were perfect 

    This meant I now had noise cancelling headphones (he could wear without music) but then also came with a micro SD card to let him listen to soft music out and about or when he needed to escape from the noise.

    All you do then is find the sounds your child likes or can calm them (I've used rain, the sea, a distant thunderstorm) on one micro SD card and then put some mellow happy songs on another that he likes. So they can be useful for his condition, but also a fun way for him to walk around listening to his favourite music without cables, or beeping lights, buttons to mess with etc.

    That's probably overkill sorry but yes - try lots of different things.
    Personally, if I was you - try the cheapo ones and if nothing changes, test the soft music idea.

    Hopefully, a manufacturer will make these.
    I've contacted the company above to see if they could do a Noise Cancelling set with Micro SD and no BASS.


  • Hi

    I Have Autism And I Am Really Sensitive To Sound And I Have Noise Cancelling Headphones And They Are Bose Which Are Really Good They Cancel All The Noise Out. Bose Headphones Are A Good Option.

    Hope This Helps