In the past, I didn’t get much accommodations for sensory overload. I didn’t know that I needed it.
It was difficult drawing a connection between noise levels and a loss of productivity especially when I was used to the noise without enough recovery time. I tend to think that there’s other causes. Noise sources during college include vehicle cabins and traffic while commuting, wind, cafeterias, hallways, computers, ring tones, other equipment, air vents, and classrooms.
I didn’t think of hearing protection because no one told me that I needed it. I thought that hearing protection was needed only if the noise cause pain or risks hearing loss. If I had sensitivities to noise, I
Interestingly, I don’t remember seeing people in special ed programs wearing hearing protection regularly in cafeterias. What I did notice was that most or all of the people in a group of autistic employees wore them for desk jobs. Other than people talking, the work place didn’t sound very noisy. I didn’t pay attention to the noise sources because I didn’t know much about my sensory needs yet.
If there were symptoms of sensory overload, they were likely overlooked. For example, if I acted like I’m daydreaming, it’s unlikely that very quiet work places are suggested. I might ask my classmates to clarify missed spoken instructions or team members might end up doing too much of my work.
I started experimenting with hearing protection after doing my own research and monitoring my symptoms. I seem to need it. So far, the main problem is sore ears and face. I often loosened or removed the ear plugs to give them a rest.
I’m considering custom fitted ear plugs since I wear hearing protection all day. The’re reusable and even recommended for sleeping! Some dB blockers have a mean dB reduction of around 34 dB at 125 Hz. Some of them are discreet, have audio jack, have Bluetooth, and are easier to remove. They’re more expensive than reusable ones you get at hardware stores but I don’t mind it if they enable us to work.
Even with hearing protection, I might still need a quieter work space. They only reduce the volume.
For safety, it’s important to have enough hearing. It’s also important not to be exposed to too much noise because it can decrease the ability to concentrate.
I’m now considering sensory overload accommodations in the future. For people with autism, I recommend not ignoring their symptoms even it they seem subtle.