ADHD EAR PLUGS
– DO THEY ACTUALLY WORK?
Anna-Karin Arnald shares her story about adult ADHD, noise sensitivity and what turned out to be the right hearing protection for her.
IT TOOK ME A LONG TIME TO REALISE THAT I HAVE VERY SENSITIVE HEARING
I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 43 years old, and it was only then that I understood that most people don’t scream OUCH because of the scraping noise of a chair against the floor. Not everybody feel the need to lay down in fetal position and cover their ears to protect themselves against uncomfortable noise… NOISY SITUATIONS WHEN NOISE SENSITIVITY CAN BE A STRUGGLE:
» Going shopping
» Working from home when for instance the washing machine or the tumble dryer are running.
» Going to parties, with usually a lot of loud sounds and high-pitched laughter.
» Visiting public spaces with a lot of people, like airports or trade fairs.
» Travelling and commuting. I travel a lot in my job and I really struggle with some of the noises on the train. It’s really difficult for me to concentrate on anything else than the noise that the person next to me are making, like chewing on anything crispy, talking on the phone or rustling a plastic bag.
ADULT ADHD & NOISE SENSITIVITY CAN BE TRICKY TO IDENTIFY AND PINPOINT
I’m not bothered by all kinds of noise, and not in all kinds of situations. I’m less sensitive to sound when I’m well-rested, but when I’m tired or stressed out, then the tiniest scraping sound can be very painful. It’s a vicious circle actually – because being exposed to noise for a longer period of time makes me so tired. Many evenings I need to just lay down in a dark, silent room to get some rest for a while. Most often it’s not until then that I realise how much I’ve been affected by the noise around me during the day.
WHAT IS SENSORY INTEGRATION DYSFUNCTION?
“Allergic to sensory input” is a description that I sometimes use. It goes under the labels Sensory Integration Dysfunction, Sensory Integration Disorder or Sensory Processing Disorder, which are common among people with ADHD and Autism.
I’m not only noise sensitive. Compared to most people, I also react differently to physical contact. A soft caress on my back can feel very uncomfortable, and I can’t touch some particular materials without feeling nauseous, like cotton for instance. I’m sensitive to light, so I usually wear a cap or sunglasses as soon as the sun comes out. Also, I can be very sensitive to certain kind of smells.
NOT ALL KINDS OF HEARING PROTECTION HELP TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM
Finding a good pair of ADHD ear plugs that works for me was a bit tricky. Using hearing protection hasn’t always been an obvious solution for me because of two reasons.
Firstly, it’s very few hearing protectors that block all kinds of surrounding noises.
And secondly, a bit of a paradox, complete silence doesn’t necessarily feel better for me either. Not being able to hear my surroundings can make me feel stressed and worried to miss when somebody is talking to me, or when the phone or the door-bell rings.
I often listen to music and tone down noise around me, but then the result is sometimes that the noise exposure from the music itself in my ear-phones makes me really tired. So, all things considered, wearing hearing protection is a completely necessary tool for me to cope in my everyday life.
What I really like is that I can adjust the noise level with the dBud ear plugs. I use that function a lot, and I like that I don’t need to take the plugs out of my ears first, I just slide the volume button when I wear them. That way I can choose the lighter noise reduction when I’d like to stay aware of the noise around me. Unfortunately, the problem about the way that I think my voice sounds when I talk is the same with dBud, but perhaps it’s something that can get better with time as I get more and more used to them.
» I like that dBud ear plugs blend in because they look just like earphones, so I don’t need to feel weird when I use them.
» Also, they’re a lot more comfortable than usual foam earplugs.
Anna-Karin Arnald is a Speech and Lanuguage Pathologist, and the CEO of the company Funka Mera Norden AB. One of the company’s objectives is to raise awareness and combat prejudice about disorders like ADHD, Autism, Developmental Language Disorder and Intellectual Disability. Their website is filled with information, literature and helpful products for everybody that need solutions that make daily life easier. dBud adjustable earplugs are one of their many smart tools that are available in their webshop: www.funkamera.se. (in Swedish).