Therapeutic Listening

CARE for Children established a pediatric therapeutic listening program with Community Innovations Funding from the United Way of the Bradford Area.

Trained therapists use sound training in combination with sensory integrative techniques to help listening become a function of the whole body, not just the ear. Hearing is a passive activity, whereas listening is active and requires the desire to communicate and the ability to focus the ear on certain sounds selected for discrimination and interpretation.

Listening skill difficulties are the inability to accurately perceive, process and respond to sounds and are often found to be an integral part of other perceptual, motor, attention and learning difficulties affecting a large number of children. Therapists use electronically altered music that has been designed to produce specific effects on listening skills when the child follows the prescribed program.

How Therapeutic Listening Can Help

Therapeutic listening may be appropriate for the child that has:

  • Difficulty understanding speech in noisy situation;
  • Trouble hearing in groups;
  • Trouble listening;
  • Becomes anxious or stressed when required to listen;
  • Is easily distracted;
  • Has difficulty following directions;
  • Seems to hear but does not understand what people are saying;
  • Has trouble remembering what people say;
  • Has poor speech or language skills;
  • Has poor reading or phonic skills;
  • Has poor spelling skills;
  • Discrepancy between verbal and performance scores and IQ tests;
  • Has impulsive behavior;
  • Is disorganized;
  • Has poor peer relations;
  • Has poor self-esteem.

The Science Behind Therapeutic Listening

In a recent study (The Effect of Sound-Based Intervention on Children with Sensory Processing Disorders and Visual-Motor Delays from the March/April 2007 edition of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy) children that participated in a therapeutic listening program showed a significant improvement on the Total Test Sensory Profile Score and significant improvement in 8 of 14 subtests that included: auditory processing, body positioning and movement, emotional responses, emotional/social responses, behavioral outcomes, multi-sensory processing and oral sensory processing. Therapeutic listening can also improve attention, social skills, self-awareness, communication skills, patterns of sleep, attention to directions and overall listening for children with sensory challenges and/or disorders.

Currently CARE has integrated therapeutic listening into its school-based occupational therapy services. The program is appropriate for children participating in other behavioral programs; children with listening deficits; and the pediatric population-at-large.

For more information about CARE’s Therapeutic Listening Program and its appropriateness for your child, please contact:

Ashley Carlson, MOT, OTR/L
Pediatric Therapy Services Director
Supervising Occupational Therapist

CARE for Children

Or email:

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