First, I’ll explain why I chose Bose noise-cancelling headphones to help with autism rather than ear defenders to help with sensory overload. As an adult with autism diagnosed later in life, I frequently experienced sensory overload without understanding what was happening. I have always avoided large gatherings and places like town centres, as many others may do due to their experience with autism. These places would make me feel stressed and overwhelmed for many reasons. One of the reasons was the totally unrestricted noise. Over time, I learned to manage this noise attack by playing music through headphones, which led me to bose.
I am not saying that you must go out and buy Bose headphones for yourself or a family member who struggles with autism-related sensory overload. I think it is important to stress that you must find a solution that fits your budget and the person’s preferences with autism. This is simply an article explaining why I chose to Bose noise-cancelling headphones which models I use, and why I like them.
As someone who loves music and enjoys hearing clarity in recordings, I have always been a fan of Bose. I remember the wave cd player/radio they launched in the ’90s. It resembled a spaceship and sounded like the future. This set my expectations of quality from the brand and drove me to purchase my first set of noise-cancelling headphones in the mid-2000s. I cobbled the money together from my part-time job a burton’s menswear, bought some QuietComfort 2s and plugged them into my iPod nano. That was it. I was hooked.
Walking to work or college no longer filled me with the dread of sheering car sounds or the other multitude of intrusive noises. Instead, walking became a new favourite pass time as I could enjoy the gentle exercise along with an almost solitary experience of my favourite music or audiobooks. This experience is the main reason I stick with Bose today and will likely choose Bose in the future.
The QC35 is the first of two Bose headphone models I currently use. I choose this model on days when I want a more isolating experience. The over-ear design helps to further cancel outside noise by blocking access to the inner ear almost completely. Once turned on, Bose’s active noise cancelling can be selected by a smartphone app to provide different levels of noise isolation. I prefer to have this set to 100%, and in this mode, you can use the headphones without music to limit unwanted noise.
For long periods of use, three hours+ the headphones can become uncomfortable, so this must be a consideration if you plan on purchasing these and using them all day. I manage to tolerate the mild irritation caused as they press against my ear. I find the benefits of wearing them outway this slight irritation. My suggestion is to test them out before making a large purchase. In the UK where I live, I did this at a local Currys PC World. Testing the headphones at a large retailer gave me the added advantage of comparing other brands. Overall, even when considering similar offerings from brands like the Sony WH-1000XM4, the Bose QC range offers the best noise-cancelling and comfort for reasonably long periods of use.
The Quiet Comfort Earbuds offer a different noise isolation solution with a discrete and comfortable in-ear design. These small but powerful headphones have a “pocket-sized” charging case in the box. Overall they offer ultra-portability, effective noise cancellation and a less noticeable design. For these reasons, I keep the Bose Quiet Comfort Earbuds on me at all times.
There are various functions I like. One of these is the ability to switch between noise-cancelling presets that can be set at different sensitivity levels in the app. These would not be a conventional first choice when considering noise-cancelling headphones over ear defenders. However, their practical features and portability mean I used the Bose Quiet Comfort Wireless more than the QC35s.
I think that any comfortable noise-cancelling headphones can be an excellent alternative to ear defenders for any individual with autism who struggles with sensory overload. They can allow the wearer to create their sound environment to provide comfort or reduce unwanted noise. I am in no way condoning spending money or going beyond your means. However, suppose you can afford to consider this option. In that case, I highly recommend testing a pair at your local consumer electronics store and seeing if noise-cancelling headphones can be the solution you are looking for.