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It could be a certain song, word, or inflection that causes a strong reaction. The sound of a faucet running, a vacuum, or a dog barking. It may vary from person to person with autism, but one thing’s for sure: sound sensitivity is more than just a mild issue for many families in the autism community.

At NAA, we’ve heard from parents whose children demonstrate abnormal flight responses after hearing a specific sound, or have serious meltdowns. Some families refrain from going out in public because of sound response or extreme phobias related to sound. Others may rely on earmuffs from the local hardware store, or take extreme measures to avoid sound triggers. In school, Gym Class or other noisy settings may impede focus or cause escalation.

We don’t know how many children and adults with autism experience auditory sensitivity, or how that sensitivity may affect their daily lives, quality of life, and personal safety. We do know that it’s an issue that greatly impacts many lives in our community, yet receives very little attention and resources that could help families.

The Interactive Autism Network (IAN) has launched an online survey focusing on auditory sensitivity and child safety. The study is being funded by NAA and is open to families who have a child with autism spectrum disorder, ages 2 through 17, regardless of whether the child has an abnormal reaction to sound. If you are a current IAN Research participant, log in to your account to take the survey.

Families new to IAN Research can learn more at IAN Research.




Founded in 2003, NAA is a parent-run advocacy organization and the leading voice on urgent issues related to autism safety, autism abuse, crisis prevention, and autism-related wandering prevention and response. Over the last seven years, NAA has provided $100,000 to law enforcement for tracking devices, distributed over 15,000 wandering-prevention safety boxes to autism families, and created

For wandering-prevention resources, please visit