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Autism & Sound


What is Hearing?

Hearing is our sense of sound. it allows us to interprets noises from our environment.

It allows us to detect tone and pitch, or a sounds direction or proximity to us, its volume or its timing and so can tell us if we are in danger or convey verbal information.


What does under-sensitivity look like?

If you are under sensitive to it you might:

  • not notice sounds such as being spoken to

  • have difficulty recognising tone or pitch

  • miss verbal cues such as sarcasm emphasis or emotion

  • seek out sounds or make your own like banging objects or being in crowded noisy spaces

  • have difficulty understanding language or conveying emotion in your voice


What helps?

Things such as:

  • visual cues to support verbal information

  • five-point scales to help them know their speaking volume

  • avoiding sarcasm - if the person has difficulty with this

  • communicating emotions verbally so there's no confusion

  • allowing us to listen to background music or noise such as white noise as this can help provide stimulation and keep us engaged


What does over-sensitivity look like?

If you're oversensitive to it you might:

  • notice tiny noises that others wouldn't and be bothered by them

  • have difficulty recognizing tone or pitch

  • have difficulty with things such as sarcasm or emphasis

  • not always notice danger or being spoken to

  • seek out certain sounds or make your own to replace unpleasant ones from around you

  • find a lot of noise too much and that this noise can hurt

  • avoid noisy places


What helps?

  • noise cancelling headphones or ear defenders and background music.

  • avoiding loud and busy places

  • avoid sarcasm if the person has difficulty with this

  • try to communicating emotions verbally or using visual supports

  • give extra time to allow them to process all the information

  • warn before loud situations

  • having strategies such as having a safe space to go to can help