Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and other sensory disorders (TBIs, hyperacusis, auditory processing disorder etc.) often have difficulties being in loud environments. In these disorders, the ears process sound normally but the hearing centres and circuits of the brain don’t correctly process incoming information.

This can affect understanding, especially in challenging listening situations such as in the presence of other distracting sound, or when listening to complex information or instructions. These conditions are often referred to as a hearing problem in which “the brain can’t hear”. Interestingly, twice as many people have challenges with processing sound than are hearing impaired.

Movie theaters, school cafeterias, grocery stores, crowded city streets, restaurants, and sporting events can feel unbearably loud, overwhelming, and painful to people with sensitive hearing. The common solutions for autistic individuals with sensitive hearing and individuals with other sensory disorders are to wear foam earplugs and over-ear headphones to lower the volume of their environments.

Aside from the fact that these methods are often  uncomfortable and draw unwanted attention to the fact that you’re wearing hearing protection, they make it impossible to hear what is going on around you and prevent you from being able to have conversations. Especially for children with autism who have sensitive hearing, this inhibits social interaction, and can also be a safety concern.

There is nothing new about using ear phones for children with auditory processing conditions, how ever until now the earphones have been large and bulky, often attracting unwanted attention in children that may already be singled out for their condition.

However these days technology has taken to the fore, and several companies have now designed noise cancelling ear devices that are small, and discreet. Here are two of the latest models that are, or will very soon be available.

  • Vibes Hi-Fidelity Earplugs, while originally designed for concertgoers, are earplugs that allow people with sensitive hearing to lower the volume of their environment to more comfortable levels while still being able to hear everything around them clearly, including speech. Unlike foam     earplugs and over-ear headphones that block and muffle sounds, Vibes filter the sound using an acoustic filter and specially designed sound tubes to make it quieter, while        retaining the clarity of the sound.

With Vibes, children and adults with autism and sensory disorders can enjoy activities that would otherwise feel uncomfortably loud, while still being able to engage in conversations and hear everything clearly.

  • Nuheara Limited (Company), developed its Super Intelligent Noise Cancellation (SINC™) technology and demonstrated IQbuds™ to thousands of people during 2016. Through these demonstrations and beta testing, Nuheara has seen promising results in the positive effecton young children and adults who have a range of concentration and auditory processing challenges.

The company is awaiting final ethical approval from a leading Australian university on two research studies involving IQbuds™ to trial with children and adults who have such challenges, however these ear buds will be    available very soon.

Kim Patra is a qualified Midwife  &  Nurse Practioner who has been living and working in  Bali for over 30 years. She now runs her own Private Practice  & Mothers & Babies center at her Community Health Care office in  Sanur.

Kim is happy to discuss any health concerns that you have and may be contacted via email at balikim2000@gmail.com, or office phone   085105-775666 or https://www.facebook.com/CHC  Bali


Copyright © 2017 Kim Patra

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