|Universal Fit Musicians Ear Plugs, Child Ear Muffs
||Let me say clearly upfront that every child with autism is different and you, as his or her parent or care provider, should use your own judgment in choosing what type of hearing protector to try.
Our son who is nearing 30 years old has infantile autism. When he was little, he benefited greatly from protection against loud sounds, and it is likely that your child will as well. We hear from lots of parents with children who have autism who are especially sensitive to loud sounds. Whether music, television, traffic noise, fireworks, barking dogs, arguing parents, concert performances, or other sources, these children nearly always will benefit from some kind of hearing protector. In classrooms, we hear about improved ability to concentrate, stay on task, and avoid emotional melt-downs, simply by providing the student with a set of child ear muffs or ear plugs.
The choices of hearing protector boil down to in the ear plugs or over the ear muffs. In the ear plugs are not appropriate for any children under 3 because they are a choking hazard. For children with autism, however, that age might be as high as 10 years old or older, and you will know best. Our son literally ate his shirts until he was around 10, so giving him ear plugs would have been a very bad idea.
Your child might prefer ear plugs or ear muffs, and both can provide the protection he or she needs. The benefits of ear plugs include lower cost, greater effectiveness, greater comfort, and better sound quality. Musicians ear plugs let the child clearly hear everything, but just at a reduced volume which is ideal for many noise situations your child will encounter. In addition, ear plugs are not as hot as ear muffs when worn for extended periods, they are easier to carry, and ear plugs can be subtle, whereas muffs are right out there where they can cause your child to become an object of ridicule by other children.
My top pick for a universal fit musicians ear plug is the Crescendo Music. It comes with two sizes of ear plug to fit most kids from about 4 up to larger adults. The sound quality is excellent and the cost is reasonable.
All that said, the tactile defensiveness of many children with autism can make ear plugs a non-starter. Many of these kids just cannot stand to have anything in their ears. The benefits of ear muffs include their improved safety. A child cannot eat them. Ear muffs also work by applying a clamping force against the head, and children with autism often like a little pressure on their bodies. For many, the pressure helps them maintain or regain self control. Ear muffs are also easier to use, quick to put on and take off, and harder to misplace than are ear plugs. While the sound quality your child will experience when wearing ear muffs will not be as good as with musicians ear plugs, your child will still be able to hear clearly enough with child ear muffs to function at home and school. I would add that all the child ear muffs we carry are adjustable enough that an adult with a small to average size head can put them on to experience what your child will experience, which can help you choose the right level of protection for your child.
My top pick in child ear muffs is the Tasco KidSafe. These have a 25 NRR, which is very good for very sensitive little guys and gals, they are solidly made, and reasonably priced. As a bonus, they come in a wide range of colors. For a lower NRR muff, with an even lower price, I suggest our My-T-Muffs.
If you give these products a try and they do not work for your child, by all means, get in touch with us. There are tons of other options we can suggest to try and solve your child's particular noise issues. That is what we are here for.