I arrived at The Listening Centre, exhausted and stressed out, having dragged my kids across the Atlantic, the previous night. Being the mother of an extra-need kid, is tiresome, challenging and lonely. Your wellbeing and a need for personal equilibrium is usually put on the side and ignored. Your kid will challenge your beliefs on health, wellbeing, education and literally everything else. But it allows you to go on a journey of self-discovery and experience life through someone else's eyes, needs and dreams.
We have been walking this road as a family of four, for the past seven years or so, having tried a few things before, where we had some successes until we had reached a plateau and no clear direction to follow. The Listening Centre in Toronto, was the last trick I had up my sleeve. I had known about the Tomatis method for about 20 years, having also met a member of the family in Paris. After reading Norman Doidge's book, I decided to investigate a bit more, and closer from home. There are a number of Listening therapies in London, UK, that follows the Tomatis method and I was lucky enough to talk to two different families who had tried it with their kids, but did not get any benefit beyond the relaxing effect and it was not long lasting. One centre did not even return email or calls.
While the idea of going to Toronto, seems a bit mad at first, my husband and I could not help wondering why Paul and its team were having some good outcomes with what they were doing while back home, it seems pretty uncertain. Having now spent two weeks in Canada, having talked and observed the work the Listening Centre team did with my kid, I now know why they are having positive results. They are using this method, not as a standardized therapy for all (as true for other centres), but as a very specialized therapy, completely individualized for one's needs, exactly as Tomatis created it, all those years ago.
The team of professionals administer it, exactly how it should be, creating an environment where a child is relaxed, safe and happy, engaged in gentle activities (reading, colouring, playing small games...) while listening to sound therapy. Here in Toronto, the method has also been developed further to create something really unique, that is not replicated anywhere else, to my knowledge. That's why people travel from all around the world to come. Although it is too early to talk about my kid and the positive steps we have, I, as a mother really benefited from the adventure.
Before coming, I was not even aware of how much support I needed or craved. And I found a lot of support at the centre from the first day we stepped inside until the day we left. Yes they are a team of professionals who are the best in their chosen field, they know their subject extremely well, they can read your kids without sitting them down for long and awkward interviews (which can be extremely painful). For us, they were able to answer questions, that we have been asking for the past 7 years, they did very thorough tests, that we were not offered or even aware of, back home. Suddenly what was going on in my child's head became clearer for me, things started to make sense.
As a parent, I was offered a lot of practical guidance on "being a different parent", how to respond to a situation in a different way to make the family life smoother and happier for everyone. The place is a warm and friendly space, full of funny, warm, caring and loving human beings. You're always met with a smile and a joke every morning. The kids love it, and run through the door everyday. You also connect also with the other parents and there is a mutual understanding of what the others are going through straight away, everyone's on the same page, everyone's part of the other's journey and you can't help but cheering and rooting for all the other kids.
Such a worthwhile adventure for our family, and it gave me a positive outlook on the future that I did not always have. And it was heartbreaking to go and leave it all behind. Lucky, we will be back soon!
by Celine Konwinski