Since being diagnosed with autism back in the summer of 2019, I’ve realised that a much larger amount of my anxiety stems from sounds around me than I realised. The buzzing from lights, washing machine or fridge noises, or things going on outside can all push me into a really anxious place, and I didn’t even realise that was why I was anxious until I learned about the sensory issues that are often a part of being autistic!
For me, being autistic means I have quite a lot of sensory issues around textures, food, lights, and of course a big one with sound. This has been a big one for me socially, because I often really struggle to hear people or process what they’re saying if there’s any background noise, which in turn increases my anxiety and makes me never want to socialise again!
Having felt out of place and ‘different’ my entire life, a lot of my autistic traits were trapped by my masking, I feel lucky that my assessor still picked up on them, but it’s since getting my diagnosis that I’ve been able to connect so many things I thought were me being ‘difficult’ or ‘weird’, to me being my authentic autistic self!
With all this in mind, you can imagine how curious I was when I came across Flare Audios ‘Calmer’ ear device. I reached out to them about giving this new product a go, and they were kind enough to send them to me! As always, although I did receive this item for free with the intention of reviewing it, everything here is my own honest opinion, so let’s get into the review!
There’s a whole bunch of science behind how these work, all of which is fantastically explained in the bits that come with them, but they basically direct sounds straight into the ear rather than allowing them to bounce around in there. At least that’s my understanding! However they work, the important thing is that they really do!
They sit comfortably just inside the ear, with the little arm piece sticking far enough out I have no fear of them getting stuck, but I’m also not worried about people noticing them too much. They also sit really snuggly, so I have no fear of losing them, but it doesn’t feel like they’re blocking your ears or pushing them in anyway.
Most important though, is what they do, which is difficult to describe. Using them around the house, I don’t really notice what they do until I take them out and feel bombarded with noise from everywhere, and notice I’ve done several hours of whatever without feeling anxious or pressured or getting distracted. I more so use them in supermarkets though, which felt like the bane of my existence before these guys.
You know when you go to a shop super late at night and it’s really quiet? Like, there’s the odd conversation or beeping or whatever but for the most part, it’s just calm and manageable? Wearing Flares Calmer, you can go shopping at the most unbearably busy times and the effect on my ears and sensory abilities is like those late night shops. All the sound is still there, I can still hear everything, but it’s all manageable and not echoing around in my ears or head. They also don’t affect voices, which I was worried about! I can still hear people talking to me just like I usually can, it’s just the background sounds that are affected.
To say they’ve been a game changer for me is a total understatement. The first time I wore them to do my shop, I almost cried when I came out because it was the first time in my life I had done my whole shop without being panicked, disoriented, or terrified I’d forgotten something. I was still anxious from all the people and general experience, but my head didn’t feel like it had been spun in a salad spinner and my ears weren’t ringing and I can’t explain how euphoric it felt to be able to do something I have no choice but to do, without feeling terrible before, during and after!
It’s such a tiny piece of tech, but it’s so effective and a total life changing thing for anyone with sensory issues regarding sound like me. I’m absolutely blown away by how much of a difference they’ve made for me, they’ve become just as much of an essential as my mask and hand sanitiser when I go out!