Headphones; leave me in peace!

Can I make a confession?

Virtually everywhere I go, I wear my headphones, particularly if in transit, like on a train or walking. (And I do get frowned at; it’s not exactly advisable in terms of road safety, but  I just leave it on shuffle, so I can be ‘car aware’.)

You see, this world is a noisy place, and the din is deafening!
With Aspergers comes the hallmark of a sort of noise sensitivity; the dislike of noise, but being unable to seemingly filter noises effectively. Therefore, anything mundane can become overwhelming, therefore having a detrimental effect; my thoughts become blocked, my speech turns into a jumbled mess, it’s impossible to articulate what I wish to say, I become upset, frustrated, anxious.

Headphones help in the nosiest of places; whether I am in transit, they act as a block against the most invasive of noises. (And by that I mean; road drilling, screaming children, the coffee beans grinding themselves…)
But why is acceptable to try and get me to remove them? 
Yes, I would remove them when social cues dictate it; such as if at a job interview, talking to a teacher, chatting with a friend, ordering a coffee. But if I’m in a shop, why come and talk to me? I know it’s the job of the shop staff to check if I have everything needed-because, yes, customers make business-but twice in the space of about two minutes? And you saw me back away nervously… (this happens regularly.)

And I love rock. Seems a contradiction, right? 
A little while ago, I was basically creating a month by month playlist, as it was what I was usually listening to at the time. But it seems a contradiction, doesn’t it? To love rock-the nosiest genre of music going-yet hate noise. And I get asked about this a lot… The thing is, Rock is probably less invasive, and I can moderate the volume from my phone.

It’s all in the sound! 
Although I do not have a formal diagnosis for anxiety, I would describe myself as sometimes feeling this way, particularly if there is a lot of noise, or I worry, I become frustrated, etc. A way for me to cope with this-instead of spewing up my lunch (sorry for those reading this who don’t like this sort of image)-is to mediate it with sound. Because music is just so comforting! I fixate on some sounds-like the lower register note of Anastacia’s Resurrection, the bass introduction of You’re So Vain, Sylvia Plath reading her poetry… it makes me so much happier, leaves me in a better mood, and makes me much easier to interact with.

But please, try not to invade this; I’ll take my headphones out when I’ve calmed down, and am ready to talk to you.
Untitled design


  1. September 28, 2017 / 2:06 pm

    I almost always have headphones in too, sometimes I have them in and forget to turn the music/audio book on and walk around with silent earphones. I like the barrier it puts between me and the world, and I like that it’s basically a statement to say “I am doing my own thing”. People with headphones need to just be left to it!

    • September 29, 2017 / 5:52 pm

      I don’t think the article that was circulating a while ago helped at all; it was saying how to approach women with headphones, and was widely panned as a bit sexist ..

  2. Autism Editorial
    September 29, 2017 / 10:49 am

    I use headphones all the time and I listen to a lot of noisy music with lots of guitars, feedback and other noise. Like you, I use it to filter out other sounds that can be overwhelming. By playing music, I only have one sound to contend with rather than the endless layers of noise of the world around me. Good post.

    • September 29, 2017 / 5:53 pm

      I use mine all the time as well-mainly for Rock music-but I wish people understood I can’t always hear them with headphones in, and that I’d like to be left alone 😀

  3. October 5, 2017 / 5:10 pm

    I cannot fathom why anyone would try to interrupt someone with headphones in. If they’re wearing headphones, they’re doing something and it doesn’t involve being interrupted by strangers! I’m glad that wearing them helps you to move through the world a bit easier ❤️❤️ And just wish busybodies would keep their judgments to themselves!

  4. October 5, 2017 / 5:18 pm

    I am glad that you find wearing your headphones a helpful coping mechanism – it is sad that more people can’t try to put themselves in your shoes when you are obviously uncomfortable about being asked to remove them! Reading this post has enabled me to understand and empathise with people who have Aspergers a lot more, so thank you for articlating your thoughts so well!
    Abbey 🎃📚

  5. Corinne and Kirsty
    October 5, 2017 / 5:22 pm

    I always have my headphones one when I am in the street. it clearly shows people I don’t want to talk to anyone but I still get interrupted by men (most often). So annoying! xx corinne

  6. October 5, 2017 / 5:24 pm

    I always have my headphones in when walking anywhere, and like you, my road safety awareness is pretty appalling (I really need to start looking when I cross the road, but I forget that cars are going to be there sometimes)! Having previously worked in retail, I’ve never considered this as a reason as to why people may keep their headphones in, so thankyou! 🖤

  7. theglassofclass
    October 5, 2017 / 5:47 pm

    People can’t stand the fact that someone else may behave differently than them. I wear headphones most of the time when I’m out. Unless I’m going to a park or a quiet walk. But I can’t stand noise on the tube or on the bus. Especially during rush hours. It just gives me a headache. Sometimes people look at me weird but you have to think to yourself that you won’t really see them anymore (most of the time). If it’s good for you, keep doing it!
    Julia xx

  8. October 5, 2017 / 5:51 pm

    I don’t use headphones (they don’t get on with my hearing aids ) but I definetely wouldn’t interrupt someone who did use them.
    Amy x

  9. October 5, 2017 / 7:07 pm

    It annoys me so much when people try to get me to take out my headphones! No, thank you.
    I tend to listen to audiobooks rather than music. And if I am listening to music it’s usually soundtracks.
    Cora ❤

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