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Teacher needs help-autistic student needs headphones

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
I am a public school teacher near Seattle who needs your help. I have an autistic 5th grade student, 10 years old, who gets very disturbed by the sounds around him. Chewing, pencils being sharpened, notebooks opening, pages being turned, stirrings of movement set him off- he experiences these gentle, relatively low volume sounds subjectively as explosive and disruptive. His coping skills are different than yours & mine based on who he is.

I'm looking for inexpensive noise cancelling headphones which will isolate & calm him in a more silent world when he's disturbed. I will have to buy them from my own pocket to help him, so I'm hoping you have inexpensive recommendations (unless someone wants to generously donate a pair of isolating, noise reducing headphones to a good cause)

Which reasonably priced, closed ear headphone will isolate this young man into a more silent world? He and I appreciate your suggestions & help.
post #2 of 36
If isolation is needed, would an IEM help? Those seal out more noise than anything. If your son could use those, I am sure you could get recommendations for inexpensive ones.
post #3 of 36
Thread Starter 
I assumed that in ear needed to be customized & were therefore expensive. BTW, it's not my son who needs these, it's a student in my classroom.
post #4 of 36
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post
If isolation is needed, would an IEM help? Those seal out more noise than anything. If your son could use those, I am sure you could get recommendations for inexpensive ones.
I doubt the young student (not his son) would be content with things in his ears all the time.

Always learning,
I recommend just checking out Amazon.com for an inexpensive pair of noise cancelling headphones. I don't own any but if I did I'd be glad to donate them to you.
post #5 of 36
Are headphones even really necessary?

You could try the "Jackhammer headphones" technique...

Jackhammer Headphones
post #6 of 36
Check your personal messages.
post #7 of 36
Thread Starter 
I don't quite know how to react to the jackhammer headphones video. Is that for real or a spoof? It makes me realize that the headphones certainly don't need to be able to reproduce music. It's audio isolation, approaching silence that I'm after for this student.

Amazon has lots of headphones listed, at a wide range of prices. As a newbie in the world of isolating headphones I was hoping someone with experience could suggest some specific low-end models.
post #8 of 36
I'm not confident that "noise cancelling" is the way to go here. These things do pretty well with the constant drone of airplane noise, but I wonder if they would really do much for the intermittent sounds of the classroom.

Are you thinking your student will be using these with music? Or is this something intended more as 'ear plugs'?
post #9 of 36
I think you want ear protectors, not headphones. And the kind you want are called ear muffs, not to be confused with winter wear of the same name.

There are many models especially for children, all under $20.

Check out this link -- there are others. GIYF.

Child Ear Protection
post #10 of 36
I don't have any experience with anyone being autistic, but from what I know, and my own symptoms from brain injury I would think what "type" of headphone would depend on whatever the student will be able to tolerate wearing. Then the strong possibility channel separation will be as big of a problem as the normal ambiance you're trying fix for him. But that also depends on what he's going to be listening to and how.

I would suggest just finding some old headphones laying around somewhere, and maybe some cheap $10 iem's from Best Buy or wherever, and tackle the issue of him actually wearing them. Then take it from there.

From my own experience with being sensitive to sounds, extreme channel separation may be a bigger issue then finding something he will wear. Not sure how you plan on using these, but maybe someone can build a simple Cross-Feed circuit, or maybe a cheap lil amp with crossfeed.
post #11 of 36
Thread Starter 
I envision 'ear plugs'- or whatever they might be called- to 'block' his hearing of all the distracting sounds around him. They would not be used for music.

I'm hoping that these would be in his desk, available to him as a tool to help him cope when he feels overwhelmed by his experience of "loud exploding sounds" which, to others, are mild, mundane sounds in the environment.

Thanks for seeking a clarification.
post #12 of 36
Noise cancelling won't help here. The function of noise cancelling headphones is to cancel out a repetitive low frequency hum, such as an airplane engine or road noise. For sudden noises, if anything the noise cancelling function makes them more pronounced.

It sounds like you really just want standard hearing protectors. However, I'd suggest a few things first:

1. find a pair of cheap headphones lying around and see if you can get him to wear them for an extended period of time. he may or may not be comfortable with this.

2. the pure silence induced by wearing hearing protection may not help. "The sound of silence" may not be tolerable for him either.

The unfortunate situation of dealing with autistic children is that there is often no easy solution. You take away the chewing pencil but introduce the headphone issue. Not being able to hear people may be as intolerable to him as hearing them.

What do the child's parents have to say on this one? they may have some clever solution and not realize it might be adapted to the school environment.
post #13 of 36
Thread Starter 
You all have good ideas and insights. Thanks.

I think I'll investigate the ear muffs on the earplugstore site, and involve his parents in the process. It seems like "noise cancelling" is not an accurate description of what's needed.

Folks- I usually communicate on other audiophile forums. Too many are filled with harshness & critical participants. My short foray into this forum seems to have elicited kindness and helpfulness. Your time and thoughts are appreciated.
post #14 of 36
It would be easy to try these cheap foam earplugs, then. If he can bear having these in his ear they might work.

Usually easy to find them at a drugstore. Or on Amazon Amazon.com: AOSafety 92050 E-A-R Foam Earplugs: Home Improvement
post #15 of 36
Alternatively, kits for custom earplugs are usually ~$20. You blend the two materials and mold to your ear. Add a neck lanyard (mold into the plastic, often the kits come with these) and he can even wear them around the classroom if he wants.

If you wanted to go this route, I'd be happy to donate a kit for this.
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