headphones as assistive devices

headphones as assistive devices

Hello, I’ve been thinking about tools I use to survive in a world that’s not made for disabled people.  I like headphones as assistive devices.

loud world

For a long time, I saw wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, grabbers, hearing aids, canes, screen readers, and shower chairs as assistive devices that mattered.  It was only recently that I learned I can consider headphones as assistive devices.  I was not considering my own disabilities as valid.  It’s a kind of ableism.  I’m glad I can recognize that and try to heal the pain.

The world is loud, and I have sensory differences.  Headphones help me endure being in a space with multi-conversation, sometimes tvs playing, music.  In restaurants, sometimes there is one music in the dining area, plus different music playing in the kitchen.  Then someone’s cell phone rings as another song, and a kid might be playing a game on their phone…

Super loud sounds in public restrooms like those hand driers can panic me.  Long ago I was in a public restroom at a gas station, listening to some family conflict as adults tried to make kids pee when they didn’t want to.  Then impossibly loud hand driers started to scream, and I lost it in the bathroom.

I was on a long trip with my spouse and a friend.  As I cried in the car, my friend suggested ear muffs or headphones to help me in public spaces.  Our friend recognized the validity of my needs before I did.  I feel grateful for the advice while I was in a vulnerable place, still adding up differences and learning to tell the truth about how I feel, what I need, and who I am.


For a long time I was masking for my own survival, trying to pass as neurotypical because I had no idea my differences could have a name or be ok.  I thought I was just a bad person for my differences, as that’s what I had been told.  I’m observant enough to notice what behaviors got me pushed away, and what behaviors got me pulled in and safer.  So I learned to do the behaviors that made me safer, but it’s so much to track.  It’s exhausting to mask.  I can’t keep it up for very long.

Headphones as assistive devices help me go outside.  I can come home and need a few hours of recovery vs days of recovery.  I’m grateful I learned this, and I wish a medical professional had recognized my differences and helped me.

I’m sorry for all the people who are never helped and need to figure these things out on our own, or never know.  So sorry for all the people who die believing they are bad, not understanding that they are just different.

Thank you for respecting disabled people and for respecting my headphones as assistive devices.  If you notice they’re not plugged in, please say a prayer for me, grateful that I’m caring for myself.

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