Audio sensitivity is something that I struggle with as someone with ADHD and Autism. Sometimes, it can be bearable and I can carry on living as though I haven’t got this problem. But other times, I can barely go about my life as it affects me so badly.
My audio sensitivity manifests in 2 different ways. The first issue I have is that I can sometimes hear quiet noises a lot louder than other people would and it distresses me, sometimes to the point I get really anxious and want to leave the environment. This is particularly the case for high-pitched noises and lower pitched drone type noises.
The second issue is when my anxiety is high, sound all together can be too over stimulating. I won’t listen to music on the bus home. I struggle to have people talk to me. Someone breathing next to me makes me want to scream. In these cases, I want to scream and cry and curl up to hide from the world- in complete silence.
For someone who doesn’t struggle with audio sensitivity, it can be difficult to understand and accept how badly this affects me. You’d think I was lying or something. And for a while, I thought I was just being awkward. Until I got my diagnosis of ADHD and provisional diagnosis of Autism.
It started to make sense why I experience these things but I still didn’t know how I could stop it.
The idea that there was a reason why I experienced this and the prospect of maybe finding a fix was a huge relief
Starting Concerta hasn’t really helped but upon seeing an article posted on The Mighty, I discovered a product that I could not resist buying to try and get myself some peace and quiet.
You see, I’d been spending a lot of my nights downstairs on the sofa unable to sleep as the plug sockets in my room buzz at a high pitch. It makes me so distressed and is so damn loud. Dad can hear it, but says its so quiet. For me? It’s agonising.
The product in question is a set of High-Fidelity Earplugs by the brand Vibes. Having done my time studying Music Technology, I know a bit about them and how they reduce the volume of sound that you hear. Seeing the fact they are supposed to help with audio sensitivity, they ended up in my Amazon cart very quickly and I ordered them on Prime.
A day later, I saw my psychiatrist and mentioned the audio sensitivity issues and he suggested ear plugs. I had a smug moment when I said I’d already ordered some (one step ahead of you, doc!) .
They’re very small and I thought they’d be uncomfortable and wouldn’t fit my ears. I struggle to get earphones to fit in my ears but thankfully, I found a size of plugs to fit my ears. The actual box includes 3 sizes of silicone ear plugs that connect to the main part of the ear plug.
I started back at work the day after getting them so popped them in the little carry case and headed to work to give them a road test.
Thankfully the ear plugs aren’t too visible… last thing I need is funny stares in public!
After asking if I’m actually allowed to wear them, I put them in at work while going about my day. I already knew they blocked out some sound but I found them amazing at work. On this particular day, they were doing work in the lab corridor with drills and that was making me particularly bad. I stuck the ear plugs in and it muffled the sound enough that I could work without distraction. I could still talk to my colleagues with no issue but background noise was severely reduced.
It was bliss.
Going forward, I know I have help with my audio sensitivity but I’m scared it won’t be enough. I’m hoping that I can get some more help and that medication or support will resolve my audio sensitivity even more.
You can help people who may be audio sensitive by listening to them if they say they’re overwhelmed and either helping reduce the noises around them or let them remove themselves from the situation completely. Over stimulation of any kind is one of the worst parts of having ADHD and Autism- especially for me when it comes and goes in intensity.
And please don’t be offended if I tell you to shut up and cut a conversation short – I’m probably trying to save you from having to deal with me having a panic attack!