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Overlaying Ears and Autism: Understanding Sensory Sensitivities

When you find yourself in a loud place, do you cowl your ears to attempt to muffle the sound? Overlaying your ears could make a loud place extra bearable. For youngsters with autism, the necessity to cowl their ears could also be extra prevalent as locations that don’t appear loud to neurotypical folks could sound loud to them.

Kids with autism are extra inclined to expertise sensory sensitivities, particularly in terms of sounds. Overlaying their ears will help them keep away from sensory overload when a room is simply too loud for his or her liking.

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Sensory Processing Dysfunction The Final Information

Understanding the explanations behind protecting ears

There could also be many explanation why autistic kids cowl their ears. These can embrace:

Sensory overload

When an autistic little one is experiencing an excessive amount of sensory enter, it may result in sensory overload. That is widespread when the kid is experiencing elevated auditory sensory enter. Overlaying their ears could function a technique to block out a number of the sounds.


For autistic kids who’re hypersensitive to sound, it may result in ache or discomfort when the sounds turn into too loud for them. Kids with autism could cowl their ears to help with sensory avoidance. Muffling the sound will help cut back the ache and discomfort.


Some kids with autism could cowl their ears as a part of a self-soothing habits, additionally known as stimming. It may be a behavioral tic they decide up when they’re younger, even when they aren’t experiencing ache, discomfort, or sensory overload.

There are occasions when my son will cowl his ears even when the whole lot is quiet. In these occasions, I do know it’s not painful or sensory, so it have to be a stim.

A young boy covering his ears

How one can handle these behaviors

Mother and father who see their kids protecting their ears will wish to study what’s inflicting the motion to allow them to stop it or make issues simpler when the conditions come up. A number of the finest methods embrace:

  • figuring out triggers,
  • offering a protected area,
  • use visible aids or social tales,
  • experiment with sensory enter,
  • occupational remedy.

Mother and father, caregivers, and even lecturers can implement these methods to assist kids with autism when they should cowl their ears.

Figuring out triggers

My youthful son usually covers his ears as a consequence of sensory overload and discomfort. He’s hypersensitive to sound and turns into overwhelmed simply. One of many largest triggers for him is public washrooms.

Lots of them, not less than in the US, echo. These echoes set off his sensory points. He’ll struggle us to make sure he doesn’t have to enter a public washroom if he acknowledges the room for what it’s.

It took us some time to determine why he was so adamant about avoiding these rooms till I used to be in a position to convey him in a single time. He was okay as soon as we had been inside till the automated hand dryer went off.

The sound despatched him right into a full-blown meltdown. That’s after I realized he prevented the room as a result of the sounds had been an excessive amount of for him. From then on, my spouse and I’ve taken steps to assist shield him from this set off.

Present a protected area

As soon as we knew the difficulty, we needed to discover a technique to make issues simpler for our son. We began with noise-canceling headphones. Taking these ear defenders with us so we are able to put them on him once we know a room will echo has made visits to public washrooms just a little simpler.

We additionally use noise-canceling headphones in public transportation terminals, like buses and subways, and on the aquarium close to our home to assist make sure the sounds don’t turn into overwhelming.

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Many autistic kids course of sound in another way, so quiet areas and quiet hours can turn out to be useful for offering a protected area. Some shops provide quiet hours that make it simpler to buy groceries with an autistic little one.

Many locations, like public libraries, additionally present quiet areas so autistic kids can expertise them with out too many sensory stimuli.

Use visible aids or social tales

If you must take your little one to a spot the place sound can probably be overwhelming, utilizing visible aids or social tales will help them put together for what they could expertise. Visible aids will help autistic youngsters acknowledge when background noise could also be too loud or when they could hear an disagreeable noise.

Social tales will help clarify what they should do to arrange for an disagreeable or loud background noise earlier than they lose management of their feelings.

Experiment with sensory enter

Whereas noises may cause some points for autistic kids, there are nonetheless some they may get pleasure from. Mother and father ought to experiment with sensory enter to determine what sounds their kids could want.

My son loves virtually all music. Whereas he’s usually the kid with autism protecting his ears, when music is on, he can get pleasure from it at virtually any decibel stage and never lose management.

Occupational remedy

In case your autistic kids are delicate sufficient to sound, they could want occupational remedy. Occupational therapists can design applications to assist determine how and why they’re so delicate and if the triggers come from the setting or elsewhere.

Utilizing this sensory data, mother and father can be higher in a position to assist their kids without having to cowl their ears.

Navigating autism and protecting ears with understanding

Autistic kids protecting their ears is without doubt one of the simpler points to deal with. It’s as much as mother and father to search out the triggers and assist make life higher for them. More often than not, it’s an indication that one thing is bothering them, and we should determine the issue and the way to assist.

Mother comforting her son

Every little one is completely different, so what works for my son could not work on your kids. Nonetheless, it’s as much as mother and father and caregivers to work collectively to make sure autistic kids get the help wanted to fulfill these sensory challenges.


Q: Is protecting ears an indication of autism?

A: Whereas anybody could have to cowl their ears when noise is simply too loud, protecting ears is an indication of a possible sensory processing dysfunction related to autism.

Q: Why do autistic kids cowl their ears?

A: Autistic kids could discover sure sounds distressing. They’ll cowl their ears to dam out these sounds.

Q: What helps settle down an autistic little one?

A: Offering a protected area will help autistic kids when they’re overwhelmed by sensory options. These can embrace quiet areas or offering noise-canceling headphones if the kid is having points with sound.

Q: How do you create a sensory-friendly setting at dwelling?

A: Specialists suggest that folks use impartial lighting, quieter sounds, and fewer litter to make their houses a extra sensory-friendly setting.


Shireen M. Kanakri, Mardelle Shepley, James W. Varni, Louis G. Tassinary, Noise and autism spectrum dysfunction in kids: An exploratory survey, Analysis in Developmental Disabilities, Quantity 63, 2017, Pages 85-94, ISSN 0891-4222,

Stiegler, L. N., & Davis, R. (2010). Understanding Sound Sensitivity in People with Autism Spectrum Problems. Deal with Autism and Different Developmental Disabilities, 25(2), 67-75.

Zachary J. Williams, Jason L. He, Carissa J. Cascio, Tiffany G. Woynaroski, A assessment of decreased sound tolerance in autism: Definitions, phenomenology, and potential mechanisms, Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Critiques, Quantity 121, 2021, Pages 1-17, ISSN 0149-7634,

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