Therapeutic Listening Guidelines: About Headsets, CD's And CD Players

The question was asked... "Can't you just buy cheaper headphones and CD players to use with the Therapeutic Listening Programs? I can get them for $10 or $20 instead of $60..."

Hold on ladies... before you run out and waste your money, I need to tell you something.

The companies that manufacture and sell these prescription CD's, say we MUST use a particular kind of headphones, and CD player, for a good reason.

The headphones? The difference in the headphones you can buy at Radio Shack and other retail stores, and what you need to get for your kids is this:

Headphones have to meet specific requirements including an Impedance of 150 Ohms, and a sensitivity/frequency range of 22,000 or 23,000 HZ (i.e., 22 or 23 kHZ).

You can LOOK for these HIGH frequency range headphones retail, but be SURE to make certain, (good luck!) that the frequency range is as high as I just posted, and the Ohms at 150.  If you choose NOT to use these high range headphones, don't even bother to do the Listening Therapy.

 WHY?  Because the prescription CD's have frequency ranges, clicks and sounds built into them, it is not just "music". These sounds are only heard, and transmitted to the brain, through the vestibular canal in the ear, straight to the cortex of the brain...

Lower frequency ranges cannot pick up the actual high frequency sounds that are the most helpful part of stimulation of the brain we need to get input to, to bring about changes in sensitivity in the brain.

It's like... why you can't hear a dog whistle. The dog can hear frequency ranges that humans cannot hear. The same with these specialized headphones, the same with the brain. It CAN pick up and respond to much higher and lower frequencies than we think... but only if we have a "transmitter"/headphones that can hear and send that signal range. Make sense?

Really, the Listening Therapy will be of VERY limited help to your child, and not worth troubling with, if you don't get the full benefit of them. MOST headphones, even nice ones, sold on the open market, retail, have a frequency range of about 10-11,000...that's letting your child hear less than HALF of what is incorporated into that CD to help your child.  ASK when you go and price them and MAKE SURE you get the right kind!

The CD's themselves? Same deal. You CAN copy them, but what are you copying? Half of it, in terms of frequency! Our own OT considered copying them, and realized she couldn't copy that high, EXTREMELY high, of a frequency range on anything but specialized equipment. Maybe you know someone with a recording studio??? That might work, if they have the proper equipment.

The CD player specifications: THIS you can buy at KMart, Radio Shack or WalMart... but it must have the following  features:

  • random play

  • ability to turn BASS OFF

  • and a hold button to lock down the volume

The volume should be set and held at 45-55dB (decibels). Conversational speech is about 70 decibels, so you can see it needs to be lower than ordinary speech. Too loud can be harmful, so there is a need to be able to lock down that volume.

I really hate to burst any enthusiasm. This IS a wonderful program, and if your therapist does not already KNOW these rules, please inform her! The cheapest ones retail at about $65 on the headphones (from, IF you have the course completion number from your Listening Therapy provider, AND contact them directly.). You MAY be able to get them even cheaper on Ebay, or purchasing them from another parent, or your OT. Some OT's will take payments.

ASK your OT about a "Lending Library". I started one at our OT, and it's working well. Each parent only purchases one CD, and when finished with it, donates it to the clinic, which then allows the parents to borrow for free all the other CD's they need. Major savings.

Again, this program is so very beneficial to many children, mine included, but there are strict guidelines to follow and cautions to watch out for, when you do it.

 It's just too important NOT to tell you the truth of it, and let you waste your time and money...all the while not actually helping your child.

But know that the Therapeutic Listening Programs ARE incredibly valuable to our SPD kids.  ( Click here for more information about the program )

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.  

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