Auditory distortions

  • Disclaimer: Reference is made in this clip to Bose active noise-cancelling headphones as we have had very positive results using these. Other brands are available and neither Phoebe Caldwell, Janet Gurney nor The Caldwell Autism Foundation has any connection to Bose.
  • Over-sensitive responses to sudden sounds, quality of voice, overlapping sounds, loud sounds, certain frequencies.
  • Some autistic people respond very positively to wearing active noise-cancelling headphones which filter out background noise but admit nearby sounds and speech, for example a child would hear their teacher in class.
  • Do not use ordinary ear-muffs or ear defenders (these are passive noise-cancelling aids) as the person may simply tune out and stop listening.
  • We must listen to what autistic people are telling us.


This series of short films shows an extended conversation  between Phoebe Caldwell (DSc, Expert Responsive Communication Practitioner who has worked with autistic people for 45 years) and Janet Gurney (BA, PGCT, Director of Training for Us in a Bus, a service based in Surrey that supports adults and children with profound and multiple learning difficulties and autism).