Listening Programs (Part 1 of 2)

Posted on August 27th, 2012 by Denise | No Comments

Listening Programs (Part 1)

By

Denise Koonce OTR

My daughter approached me the other day and the conversation went sort of like this “Mom, I think I need to get my hearing tested.” she said.  “Oh really, why is that?” I said.   “Because I can not hear what my teacher is saying.” she said.  “When can you not hear your teacher, where is he?”  I said.  “He is in front of the class by the chalkboard giving us spelling words.  You see, every time he writes a word on the chalk board I have to cover my ears because the sound of the chalk hurts and then I can not hear what he is saying.” she said.  She then went on to say that the sound of chalk on the chalkboard makes her feel the same way a pencil on rough paper sounds, or the way shoes sometimes squeak on a waxed floor, it makes me feels yucky and then gestured by contorting her hands and face with displeasure and ended it with a full body shiver. 

Well that was it; it was time to initiate a listening program.  We already knew she had difficulty with auditory stimulation when the environment was too loud because it actually caused her blood pressure and heart rate to increase, so this information was no surprise.  But which one was the best one for her?

We are fortunate to now have more than one auditory listening program available in the US.  There are in fact, several options but I will focus on the ones most widely used.  All of the following listening programs are geared towards improving a person’s ability to listen and understand spoken language by improving auditory processing.  They are the Tomatis Method, Berard’s – Auditory Integration Training (AIT), SAMONAS, Therapeutic Listening by Vital Links, The Listening Program, and Integrated Listening Systems.   What do they all have in common?  They all use music with sophisticated sound technology of which the user listens to through sophisticated headphones.  Some programs have additional bone conductors attached to the headphones.   Some send the music through equipment prior to sending the sound through the headphones and some use music recorded on CD’s that has already been altered.  Research supports that just about anyone can benefit from an auditory listening program but I want to focus on the programs that most benefit the populations that we serve as therapists. 

Auditory Listening Programs all began because of the initial work of Dr. Alfred A Tomatis, a French physician and Otolaryngology specialist.  Over the period of 50 years and until his death in 2001 he continued to perfect his previous work.  In 1958, he created the Electronic Ear, which was a device that used electronic gating, bone conduction transducers and sound filters to enhance the uppermost missing frequencies.   This effect created a gymnastic like environment for the ear and therefore the brain.  This effect became known as the Tomatis effect.   The Electronic Ear due to cost and size limited the participants to be seen only in a clinic until the Solisten, a portable device, was created in the mid 2000’s.  Mozart violin concertos and Gregorian chants are generally the music source used, which is then treated with the Tomatis effect.  Once a client has been assessed, a trained Tomatis professional will then program the devices, whether clinic or portable, to the specific listening needs of the individual.  The Tomatis program is 2 hours long per day for 15 days for the first two phases with breaks in between for integration.   

Due to the work of Dr. Tomatis, others have been inspired and have expounded upon his work therefore broadening the reaches and benefits of what an auditory listening program can bring to an individual.    Please join me next week as I continue along the path in exploring auditory listening programs.  Please share your input, whether pros or cons, regarding your experiences with any of the listening programs.

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