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Therapeutic Listening

Many researchers consider "listening" to be a form of sensory integration that uses sound vibration to stimulate brain processing. There continues to be indication that some children have sensory dysfunction in the areas of touch, movement, smell, taste, hearing and/or vision. These senses may be either highly responsive (hypersensitive) or low to respond (hyposensitive) to stimulation. Our senses help us to understand our world and enhance development. If there are problems with sensory processing, the problems will impact the mastery of fine and gross motor skills and social/emotional development. Listening difficulties (the ability to accurately perceive, process and respond to sounds) are often a part of perceptual, motor, attention and learning difficulties.

The Therapeutic Listening® program evolved through the development of listening techniques used by French physicians Alfred Tomatis and Guy Berard, and then integrated into a sensory processing model by Sheila Frick, a registered occupational therapist. Therapeutic listening uses sound stimulation in combination with sensory integrative techniques. Strategies that are emphasized include vestibular, postural and movement strategies. This treatment technique involves listening to specifically modulated and filtered music through headphones.

Initially, treatment is carried out with a trained therapist at Children’s Therapy Corner, and within a few days, "listening" can take place in the home or school. While the child is "listening," he or she may be engaged in daily activities or other therapeutic activities. These might include oral motor, respiratory, deep pressure, touch or other activities that facilitate increased ability to perceive sensation and integrate it for use. Other children may be more active, actually jumping, moving through obstacle courses or performing other challenging activities that work on postural control and organization. Therapeutic listening is a tool for restoring sensory systems with:

    • Increased body and environmental awareness
    • Improvement in feeding issues
    • Easement in transition ability
    • Self-regulation and self-expression
    • Decrease in sensory defensiveness

Children typically develop sensory integration abilities in the course of regular childhood activities. The ability to respond to sensation in an adaptive manner and motor plan is a natural process. Yet, if this process is disordered, problems in learning, behavior or development may occur.

This therapy program, like other treatment options, is not a guarantee cure. It is a treatment technique used by trained therapists, and when combined with other individualized treatment programs can significantly impact the child’s functional abilities. If you are interested in learning more, please contact us.

therapeutic-listening1The vestibular-cochlear system is the attending and organizing mechanism of the middle ear. Therapeutic listening stimulates and exercises this system, as well as their interconnections throughout the body's central nervous system. The vestibular-cochlear system provides the foundation for time and space organization of all the other sensory systems. It is the first system to develop in utero and provides the background rhythm and beat for all other learning. Individual listening programs are designed to meet each child's needs. The choice of music, listening times and types of activity programs depends on the needs of the child. Therapeutic listening includes comprehensive assessment and treatment planning that addresses listening skills in the context of the child's daily life. A typical program may be set for two to six months. However, some children may continue past this time.

In general, your child's therapeutic listening program may involve sensory modulation, postural tone and attention, motor control and communication. Other changes you may observe:

  • Improvement in wake/sleep cycles
  • Reduction of sensory defensive behaviors, such as sound sensitivity
  • Improved toilet training
  • Improved focus and attention
  • Improved fine motor skill, including handwriting and visual motor skill
  • Improved coordination and body awareness
  • Improved timing of social interactions
  • Greater range of nonverbal communication

Children with the following needs or diagnoses may benefit from therapeutic listening:

  • Sensory processing disorders
  • Down Syndrome
  • Learning disabilities
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Communication delays

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