Addendum to Listening Program

Posted on September 23rd, 2012 by Denise | No Comments

Addendum to Listening Program

By

Denise Koonce OTR

I mentioned in the first Listening Program blog that my daughter was showing symptoms of auditory processing dysfunction which was now beginning to interfere with her learning.  So, after much research, I determined a specific auditory program to use with my daughter and choose the Integrated Listening System (iLs) program.  It appeared to be the best fit for our needs and they were holding a continuing education course in Dallas.  I already knew my daughter would benefit from the program but I left the course with greater expectations and hope for results because of the information I had gained.  After attending the course I feel compelled to share some additional information that I learned because of its relevance to the populations we treat.  

In the first two blogs regarding Listening Programs, I briefly mentioned the populations who could benefit and the outcomes you might observe.  After taking the course I realize there is a much broader perspective of who can benefit and how they benefit.  However, in order to understand who and how, I want to discuss why.  Listening Programs and more specifically the iLs program works because the ear is an incredible portal to the brain.  It is incredible because of how the information travels and where that information is destined.  The ear is supported by two main cranial nerves, Cranial Nerve X and VIII.  The Vagus Nerve or Cranial Nerve X plays an enormous role in carrying information from the ear to the brain.  The Vagus nerve has responsibilities in regulating emotions, stress levels and digestive function; and therefore can have a direct affect on these areas simply due to sound stimulation.   The Cochlear Nerve is the second nerve directly involved with the ear but as it progresses to the brain it is joined by the Vestibular Nerve creating Cranial Nerve VIII.    The Vestibular Nerve carries and shares its information with the central nervous system and then on to the cerebellum.  Its information impacts balance and equilibrium, body awareness, fine and gross motor, muscle tone and posture, eye coordination, and motor planning.  The nerves involved with the ear create a very unique opportunity to affect multiple areas of the body that we as therapists try to impact.  Many of the children we treat do not have optimally functioning sensory systems and because of their poorly integrated sensory system the information traveling to the subcortical area of the brain is not properly organized.  This in turn affects the quality of the information sent to the higher cortical brain for executive functioning.   iLs uses the analogy of a house.  They state “think of the subcortical systems as being the foundation of a house.  When the foundation is strong and stable, the brain (roof) is supported for learning and retaining what is learned.”  When the “roof” is not supported by good sensory information and processing, unwanted behaviors and symptoms can be observed in many of the children we treat.

As you are determining which patients might benefit from an auditory integration program consider not only the obvious diagnoses and symptoms, such as learning disabilities, listening and auditory deficits, autism and sensory integrative disorders but the less obvious ones as well.  Consider using it with children who have feeding and gut issues, decreased concentration and memory, and poor sleep patterns.  It will also benefit children in high stress situations or environments and for poor regulatory adjustment just to name a few. 

I believe iLs to be a very valuable and powerful tool as a part of my “bag of tricks” in conjunction with therapy.  It is the type of tool that you will use for one reason only to realize that it has made a positive impact in other areas also.  I will continue to share the progress and benefits my daughter experiences down her journey and hope that you will share with us your experiences using an auditory integrative program.

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