Children We Help
Dr Tomatis statement “we read with our ears” created a stir in the French educational world of the 1960’s. Now Dyslexia, the term used to describe a difficulty with reading, is most often understood as an auditory-language-based Learning Disability.
Many children with learning disabilities affecting written language have an early history of ear infection, they often started speaking late and their speech and language skills are still not up to notch. They also have auditory processing difficulties and poor phonological awareness (the ability to spell out the letters which make up words). All this point out to the fact that, while hearing within normal range, the ability to fine tune the auditory system to the sounds of language is defective. As the result, while reading, the letters that the eye see do not correspond to the sounds they represent and the meaning of the text is ‘lost in translation’. In other words, listening is at the root of decoding and has a strong influence in reading comprehension.
There is another connection between the ear and reading. The ear plays a role in eye tracking through its connection with the vestibular system of the inner ear which can be described as ‘the ear of the body’. The letters which ‘jump’ in front of the eyes, who appear reversed, or the difficulty to find the next line often described by dyslexics, have something to do with listening and can be improved with a Listening Training program.
There are situations where the child is highly verbal but struggles with interpersonal relationship and some basic, ‘common sense’, aspects of everyday living. Those children tend to misread non-verbal cues and give the impression of speaking ‘at you’ and not ‘to you’. They have difficulty ‘reading’ social situations (a sort of ‘social dyslexia’). They also have major difficulties with written expression, writing in particular and also tend to be uncoordinated, clumsy and shy away from physical activities. They have a tendency of living ‘in their mind’ and not ‘in their body’ and are known as having a Non-Verbal Learning Disability or, at the extreme, Asperger Syndrome. These “out of sync” children have, among other things, a weakness of the ‘ear of the body’ and can benefit from a listening training.
- Dyslexia and other Auditory-Language Learning Disabilities (Reading/Writing/Math)
- Slow Processing
- Phonological Awareness
- Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities (NLD)
- Gross Fine Motor Function & Coordination
The Listening Training offers a solution to many forms of attentional deficit issues such as ADD and ADHD. For Paul Madaule, who has been working in this field for over 40 years, both attention span and concentration are branches of the same tree which finds its roots in listening. He defines attention span as the “ability to listen (well) for prolong periods of time”; it is “listening plus time factor”. Concentration on the other hand, is the ability to cut out parasitic information in order to clear up the mind and “listen to oneself thinking”.
Many cases of ADHD, particularly the inattentive type, are auditory processing issues in hiding and they improve as the result of better listening. To help children maximize their attention span is to help them maximize their listening. For those parents or educators who are seeking drug-free, natural forms of intervention, there is nothing more natural than sound.
- Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD and ADHD)
- Central Auditory Processing Dysfunction (CAPD)
- Organization & Sequencing
We are the first listeners of what we say. Many elements which makes up speech, from the loudness of the voice, speech flow, articulation and intelligibility depends on the quality of our listening.
A clearer perception of the voice when talking (ear-voice feedback loop) permits a better fine tuning of the characteristic of speech, leading to improved verbal expression. In the case of articulation problems, this better feedback loop helps facilitates and shorten traditional speech therapy.
When the act of speaking gets smoother and more automatic, it is easier to focus on what one has to say and how to say it. The result is more brain power available for conveying thoughts more clearly and more thoroughly with expanded vocabulary and complex sentences
- Volume Control of the Voice (either speaking too loud or mumbled)
- Speech Flow Regulation (hesitant speech, stammering)
- Articulation and Intelligibility (Apraxia)
- Vocal Expression (monotone voice)
- Vocabulary (limited or repetitious)
- Sentence Structure (poorly constructed or stereotyped)
Listening is at the root of communication and social behaviour. The ear is the first sensory modality ready for use well before the child is born and the listening function precedes speech and language. Many issues affecting the child’s communication and social behaviour will improve as the result of improved listening.
This is particularly true in the case of children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). Autism, a breakdown of communication, is the clearest form of non listening. Many children in the autistic spectrum present many sensory issues as if the sensory system was used to cut off, or protect the child from the world around him instead of being used to draw bridges with this world. The good news is that there is one noticeable exception: the great majority of children with autism love music. Music can be used as the way to engage them and open their world by opening their listening. This is, in a nutshell, what we do at The Listening Centre. There are many other steps to the program but this is the starting point.
The younger the child, the better the results. The Listening Training program is recommended primarily for children in with ASD at a mild and moderate levels as well as those with Asperger.
Many children with sensory regulation and issues affecting their communication and social behavior but who are not necessarily autistic are also good candidates for the Listening Training program. This includes children with Sensory Processing Disorders and other forms of sensory integration issues.
- Mild & Moderate Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), Asperger
- Sensory Processing Disorder
- Sensory Integration Dysfunctions
- Behaviour Regulation
Many children suffer from Sensory Processing Disorders that may affect some aspects of their development such as self-regulation, self control, the acquisition of language and social skills. These ‘Out of Sync’ children are excellent candidates for the listening training because sound stimulation facilitates integration between the senses which, in turn, positively affects their adjustment and maturation.
Children with these issues that are not directly related to listening may also benefit from the sensory stimulation provided by the enriched filtered music of Mozart that we use for listening training. This includes most children with Global Developmental Delays, those with a neurological cause such as mild forms of Cerebral Palsy, or with chromosomal differences such as Down Syndrome.
The listening training has a positive impact on muscle tone, breathing, (straightening of the neck, particularly in children with CP), body posture, focus, attention, auditory processing and comprehension. Changes in balance, motor planning and coordination (walking and gait, climbing, going up/down stairs, riding a bicycle for example) are commonly observed. The exercising and strengthening of the ear-voice loop with use of the microphone (active phase of the program) further helps develop speech clarity, intelligibility and overall richness of the voice.
- Developmental Coordination Disorder (Dyspraxia))
- Cerebral Palsy (CP)
- Down Syndrome & other genetic disorders
- Global Developmental Delay
- Muscle tone
- Premature birth