Aspberger’s Syndrome and Noise Sensitivity

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Oné of the common symp­toms of Asperger Syndrome is sensi­tivity to noises. When people here that, they gener­ally picture loud noises as being the problem.

And that can be the case, but the noises don’t have to be partic­u­larly loud to trigger a melt down. Some­times it’s just the surprise and the inter­rup­tion to routine that causes the problem. Other times its’ the distrac­tion caused by back­ground noise that can’t be ignored.

The fact that there are so many noise trig­gers makes it very diffi­cult for parents of an Asperger’s child to predict what will cause them to spin off into an emotional melt­down. A noise level that was fine only 30 minutes ago, may now be the final straw that trig­gers a full on tantrum.

Young chil­dren have a hard time iden­ti­fying what it is that is causing them so much angst. Even if they are able to recog­nize the cause, they may not be able to verbalize it in time to stop the melt down happening. This is why adults will frequently say that there was no warning before the melt­down occurred.


For older sufferers there are several options. At the most basic level they can plan their day so when they need their concen­tra­tion most they are in a calm and quiet loca­tion. In situ­a­tions where that is not and option ear plugs can be used to block out overly loud sounds. Noise cancelling head­phones are very effec­tive at blocking out distracting back­ground noises. Other sufferers have reported success using brown noise (similar to white noise, but at a lower frequency).

For young chil­dren it’s diffi­cult to do much more than be aware of how they may react to noises. If you take them to crowded malls, give them some warning of what is to come and find quieter areas to give them a break from time to time.

Helping Chil­dren Recover

Once a melt­down happens there’s really only one thing to do. Get them out of the situ­a­tion which trig­gered the melt­down. They won’t be able to recover them­selves while their senses are still being assaulted by the noise. You need to get them to a quiet area and back off so they can calm them­selves down.

After they are calmer, it’s prob­ably a good idea to talk to them about why they reacted the way they did. Helping them to iden­tify what is causing their distress will enable them to recog­nize it earlier and perhaps avoid the next meltdown.

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