Therapeutic Listening

Listening is an important function which is required in developing communication skills and is the key to effective communication. If one doesn’t listen effectively, messages can be easily misunderstood. It is the function of the brain as a whole that plays a role in stimulating the auditory system and in turn improves one’s ability to focus and discriminate between different sounds in the environment.

therapeutic listening

Our senses constantly receive, organize and filter incoming information in order to give an appropriate output in the form of movement, behaviour, language and/or emotional response. For children with sensory processing difficulties (See SI), this process may be interrupted or altered. Children may experience limitations with postural alignment & control, balance, orientation and navigation through space around them. These may be observed as difficulties with:

  • Ability to sit upright
  • Smooth eye hand coordination needed for fine motor tasks
  • Focusing on a page while reading a book or on the board during copy writing tasks
  • Responding to sounds in the vicinity, to people when called or may be hypersensitive to sounds
  • Moving through space efficiently

We at Reach, use Therapeutic Listening® as an addition to the on-going Sensory Integration therapies. It is used with the intention of aiding children facing challenges with listening, attention, communication along with Sensory processing dysfunctions. Therapists use it as an adjunct, with focus on improving social participation, communication, learning, academic performance, attention, and self-help skills.

Therapeutic Listening® is a specialized evidence based program that combines sensory integration intervention with sound based intervention. It works on the nervous system through the auditory system; which is done by using organized sound patterns and frequencies inherent in music by providing direct input to the vestibular and auditory parts of the inner ear. Our inner ear plays a role in understanding the time and space, thus it has a strong influence on our muscle tone, posture, balance and motor planning activities.

During therapy sessions the sound input is combined with activities focusing on core muscle use and various movement patterns. Emphasis is placed on ability to move and navigate the body effectively in the space around, coordinate movement and to organize oneself along with improving the brain’s ability to attend and organize the incoming sensory information. Research has shown that post therapeutic listening; children are more organized and regulated behaviourally. Therapeutic listening can be used independently as well as a tool to complement other sensory motor therapies as a part of regular on-going therapy or as a home program.

therapeutic listening
therapeutic listening

We at Reach, use Therapeutic Listening® as an addition to the on-going Sensory Integration therapies. It is used with the intention of aiding children facing challenges with listening, attention, communication along with Sensory processing dysfunctions. Therapists use it as an adjunct, with focus on improving social participation, communication, learning, academic performance, attention, and self-help skills.

Therapeutic Listening® is a specialized evidence based program that combines sensory integration intervention with sound based intervention. It works on the nervous system through the auditory system; which is done by using organized sound patterns and frequencies inherent in music by providing direct input to the vestibular and auditory parts of the inner ear. Our inner ear plays a role in understanding the time and space, thus it has a strong influence on our muscle tone, posture, balance and motor planning activities.

During therapy sessions the sound input is combined with activities focusing on core muscle use and various movement patterns. Emphasis is placed on ability to move and navigate the body effectively in the space around, coordinate movement and to organize oneself along with improving the brain’s ability to attend and organize the incoming sensory information. Research has shown that post therapeutic listening; children are more organized and regulated behaviourally. Therapeutic listening can be used independently as well as a tool to complement other sensory motor therapies as a part of regular on-going therapy or as a home program.

Children receiving this therapeutic service are made to wear specially designed headphones that play special music designed for this system. The music is modified into categories “low sounds” (below 1,000Hz, related to vestibular and postural functions), “mid-range sounds” (1,000-4,000Hz, related to key speech sounds), and “high sounds” (›4,000Hz, related to attention, discrimination, and emotional stages), at various times throughout the music track. In addition, the music has also been made based on the type and number of instruments used (percussion, bass, stringed instruments all affect the nervous system differently) as well as the rhythm (beat, pattern, repetition, tempo), melody, and even the physical space in which the recording was made.

The Occupational therapist first assesses and analyses the concern areas and underlying factors causing them and then decides the type of music, intensity and frequency to be used and combines them with specific activities in accordance with the child’s needs and goals. During each session the child’s response to treatment is observed and necessary modifications are then made.

therapeutic listening

Therapeutic Listening has seen to benefit children of various ages who might exhibit:

  • Difficulties with attending to tasks presented
  • Communication difficulties
  • Transitional difficulties
  • Postural insecurity (fear of heights, playing with playground equipment)
  • Abnormal responses to various sensory stimuli (sounds, touch, taste, pain)
  • Difficulties with sleep regulation
  • Challenges in visual motor skills and play skills
  • Poor praxis and motor planning skills
  • Poor frustration tolerance
  • Inability to maintain the ‘just right’ arousal levels
  • Difficulty responding to sounds and verbal directions

Functional Outcomes of Therapeutic Listening:

It has greatly benefitted children with sensory modulation difficulties. It is highly effective and has shown improvement in

  • Tactile sensitivity or defensiveness
  • Overall regulation of arousal levels and mood
  • Social response and interaction; with better “timing”
  • Awareness of background sounds, conversations and visual stimuli in the vicinity
  • Balance and postural control as demonstrated by the child
  • Bilateral coordination and fine motor control
  • Handwriting
  • Visual-motor integration
  • Oral sensitivity with increased exploration and acceptance of different temperature and textured food
  • Oral-motor articulation as demonstrated by improved means of communication such as greater range of non-verbal communication, improved/clearer articulation, greater emotional and verbal expression and improvements in pragmatic language
therapeutic listening
therapeutic listening

Functional Outcomes of Therapeutic Listening:

It has greatly benefitted children with sensory modulation difficulties. It is highly effective and has shown improvement in

  • Tactile sensitivity or defensiveness
  • Overall regulation of arousal levels and mood
  • Social response and interaction; with better “timing”
  • Awareness of background sounds, conversations and visual stimuli in the vicinity
  • Balance and postural control as demonstrated by the child
  • Bilateral coordination and fine motor control
  • Handwriting
  • Visual-motor integration
  • Oral sensitivity with increased exploration and acceptance of different temperature and textured food
  • Oral-motor articulation as demonstrated by improved means of communication such as greater range of non-verbal communication, improved/clearer articulation, greater emotional and verbal expression and improvements in pragmatic language