Listening is a function of the entire brain and goes well beyond
stimulating the auditory system. We listen with our whole body. In order to
fully address listening difficulties one must also attend to the listening
functions of both the hearing ear and the body ear.
One such approach that addresses the multiple facets of
listening is Therapeutic Listening [Listening With the Whole Body]. The main
idea is to emphasize integration of the auditory and vestibular systems
together. Since there is such a close connection with visual functioning, visual
processing also will likely improve. Particularly spatial awareness, and the
concept of time and space. [Eichelberger, 2002]
When a Therapeutic Listening program is being implemented, as
with all interventions based on the principles of Sensory Integration, a
therapist relies on the client's cues to determine appropriate strategies
[Kimball, 1993]. A child may be very active while listening, working on
suspended equipment, and three-dimensional surfaces, which further challenge
postural organization, motor planning, and higher-level sensory integration
skills. The use of sound and music is so intimately connected to movement that
children on listening programs are often compelled to move and explore the
environment in new ways [Listening With the Whole Body]
It appears that sound stimulation alone facilitates the process
of listening and social engagement [Porges, 1997]. However, to maintain and
expand on those changes it is critical to engage the child in functionally and
developmentally relevant activities that allows the changes to become a part of
daily life skills [Listening With the Whole Body].
The equipment required for listening therapy are headphones that
meet specific requirements, a CD player with special features, and CD's that are
electronically altered, based on the ideas and the technology created by Alfred
Tomatis, Guy Beard, and Ingo Steinbach. Depending on the child's treatment
goals, the therapist will determine which music, modulation, and activities best
suit the child.
When used in conjunction with Sensory Integration Therapy, improvement is usually seen in:
alertness, attention, and focus
receptive and expressive language, including
balance and motor planning
affect and emotional responsivity
awareness of the environment
initiation of play behavior
initiation of verbal interaction
modulation of sleeping, eating, toileting, alertness,
What does all this mean, you might ask? Sensory Integration
Therapy is enhanced, it works better. The treatment is addressing more issues,
and stimulating more senses. Results are usually seen earlier than without the
In my personal experience, with my own boy utilizing Listening
Therapy, I saw almost immediate and dramatic changes. I noticed regulation of
his internal organs. He suddenly had a normal appetite, and began eating full
meals, instead of "picking" through the day. His bowel movements became regular.
He stopped wetting himself. For the first time in his four and a half years he
began sleeping through the night.
His art became focused and complete, not random scribbles. He
began hearing letter sounds that he had not heard before. He became calmer,
attentive, and alert. His balance improved. His thinking and planning increased.
He could plan a project or task, think it through, and complete it without
Typically, a child listens to music for two-thirty minute
sessions each day. This became a wonderful opportunity for us to interact at
home. We worked on projects, letters, writing, building sets, coordination, and
numbers. He loved dancing and singing with the music. I could see that it
enhanced his ongoing therapy.
It was also very helpful to us to use the Therapeutic Listening
Home Program Chart. With a few words written each day we were able to track his
progress, and see changes. Over a period of weeks we could already see the
benefits. Talk to your child's therapist to see if this program could be of
benefit to your child.
IMPORTANT!! Before buying any
CD's, headphones, or CD players for this program, make sure you read
Copyright © Michelle Morris. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author:
Michelle Morris is the mother of six, and parent of a child with a
Sensory Processing Disorder. She
is whole heartedly dedicated to promoting awareness and advocacy for families
with SPD children. She has published over 30 articles supporting and
educating parents about SPD.