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A Personal Story: Listening to Heal

Written by Julie Daniluk

When I was a little girl, I could not repeat back the alphabet. At first my parents wondered if I was hard of hearing. I went for the standard hearing tests but they all came back normal, and the trouble continued. I was then sent for extensive aptitude tests and the results explained the problem. When I learned with my eyes, my IQ was very high but my ears where another matter. I could hear sounds but I struggle to comprehend a certain frequency range of sound where the human voice resides.

I have Auditory Processing Disorder, an invisible disability, caused by lack of oxygen during birth. Although my hearing is perfect, I have intermittent problems with perceiving and decoding what people are saying. It’s like having poor cell phone reception, where the signal gets static or drops out.

I learned to study in perfect silence in a cubbyhole. This taught me how to hyper-focus. I can write an article over a period of eight hours without moving, memorize a 30-minute monologue when required and remember virtually anything, as long as I see it with my eyes.

In grade 4, I was placed back into a regular public school because my visual comprehension was high enough to balance my grades. During this year of transition, I encountered my greatest bully. 

Mr. Lowker summed me up within a few months of being in his class. After receiving another poor grade on a verbal test, he delivered his judgment of my future prospects with a scowl, “Julie, you just have to understand that you are stupid and that you will end up being a janitor.” 

Those words have haunted me for 31 years. Every time I was called out for not understanding instructions, every time my boss rolled his eyes and said the same thing again only louder… I made it mean that I was stupid and one day the world would figure that out and when they did, I would lose my job in the media and end up cleaning toilets. 

When listening I must spend extra mental effort to unscramble new terms and concepts. Doing all this decoding takes up space in my working memory so my working and short-term memory is used to process the conversation, instead of remembering what I’ve heard. As a result I have left many classrooms without the memory of the whole lecture. 

I lived for more than 30 years thinking that I just had to deal with my fate until I discovered The Listening Centre. After searching on the Internet for help with ADP, I stumbled across a type of listening training that is based on the work of Alfred A. Tomatis, the originator of the field of listening and sound therapy. The Toronto Listening Centre is the first facility of its kind in America and was co-founded in 1978 by Dr. Tomatis and Paul Madaule. It is located in the heart of the Mirvish Village in Toronto Ontario, Canada. I hit the 'contact us' tab and set up a free consultation to see if their technique could help me.

Morana met me at the centre with a warm smile. After a special hearing test she explained that I hear more effectively through the bones in the back of my head then I did down the ear canal. This created a focus on background sounds and a difficulty understanding the human voice in front of me. You can imagine how difficult it might be trying to keep up with conversations when I only comprehend part of what is being said. In a noisy room, I would have to rely on context of the conversation in order to figure out what was being said. She suggested that my ears could be retrained and that 6-weeks of a Listening Training program has been shown to help people with ADP. 

The program consists of 60 hours of training over a period of 6-weeks, starting with 2-hours per day for 3-weeks. There is a month off for integration and then 3 more weeks of active exercises. 

I LOVED my time at the Listening Centre. I felt it was a ‘vacation’ from my insane work schedule and a chance to sing, draw, journal, SLEEP, read poetry and get in touch with my breath. These were things I never afforded myself even when I was travelling. The staff is so kind and supportive that I felt I was going to a mental spa!   

The last week of my program, I saw such improvement that I found myself staying after class to continue reading out loud because I was shocked it was so much smoother.

It turns out that reading aloud is actually an auditory skill. So even though my visual comprehension is great to begin with, the listening training dramatically improved my ability to read a text I had never seen before.

The Results: My last listening test showed that my ability to hear higher frequency has improved. The frequency where human speech resides has improved and my ears have caught up with bone conduction, allowing for improved listening of speech with background noise.
*I have more sustained attention span when listening. I find I am more patient with phone calls.
*I have increased self-comprehension when reading aloud and far better pronunciation and comprehension of text.
*My voice is more on pitch with improved resonance. I have increased confidence in singing and reading aloud.
*My writing skills are even better. I find I make fewer grammatical mistakes and guess at spelling more reliably. 

Overall I feel that the experience has been a big step forward in my journey of self-acceptance. I feel my improved ability to listen has healed a huge part of my self-esteem and I am forever grateful for Morana, Darlah and Paul. Their work improves 100’s of lives each year. I came clean with my deepest fear that has kept me locked in self-doubt for most of my life. I am moving out of the closet of feeling stupid, onto the stage of self-expression and empowerment.

If I could talk to Mr. Lowker today I would say, “The man in the USA with the highest IQ so happens to be a janitor. I ended up with a TV show and a bestselling book because you pushed me every day to prove you wrong. I want to thank you!” With The Listening Centre on my side, I might just peruse my dream of filming a cooking show in the space station. I won’t mind cleaning the toilets in outer space!

Julie Daniluk is a renown nutritionist, TV-host and writer As a co-host of the Oprah Winfrey Network’s Healthy Gourmet, and a regularly featured health expert on CTV’s The Marilyn Denis Show and on CTV News Network, Daniluk is a trusted source for health related information that can immediately be put to use. Julie is the bestselling author of Meals That Heal Inflammation, a book that has helped thousands of people enjoy allergy-free foods that not only taste great, but also assist the body in the healing process. In the media, Daniluk contributes to various publications such as Chatelaine, Readers Digest, Vitality, and Alive magazines, and has made over 500 appearances on various television and radio shows including Dr. Oz, Canada AM, Breakfast Television, CBC Radio and The Morning Show.

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