What is Therapeutic Listening?
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 articulation
- balance and motor planning
- affect and emotional responsivity
- awareness of the environment
- postural security
- spatial awareness
- initiation of play behavior
- initiation of verbal interaction
- modulation of sleeping, eating, toileting, alertness, emotional
- stability [Eichelberger]
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 Listening Program.