(not just) Music to Their Ears (part 3)

Toddler in OT with Sound Therapy

Toddler in OT with Sound Therapy

Sound Therapy improves sensory integration when used in connection with Occupational Therapy for sensory processing issues.  Since no two children are alike, each sound therapy program is customized to the needs of the child after a full sensory evaluation.  Testimonials provide a glimpse into the variety and effectiveness of sound therapy.

Max’s mother wrote this personal testimonial:

Max started OT in January 2012 at age 8 ½. We started OT for two separate reasons. One reason was for Max’s handwriting, which has improved but is still a struggle. The other reason was severe sensory defensiveness that had led Max to basically stop eating. Food was always too hot, too cold, too runny, too squishy, too tough, too bland, too spicy or it didn’t look like he had expected it to look or taste like he had expected it to taste. Meals were a HUGE source of stress in our house and Max had not gained weight or grown taller in almost two years.

During OT sessions, he learned to identify sensory stressors and tools to deal with those stressors. We learned that certain scents were calming. We learned that sour candy helped calm him. We learned that hand fidgets were helpful at keeping him focused, on task, and calm. We also learned how to incorporate “heavy work” into his daily routine. At home, we worked to integrate how to recognize stressors and how to calm himself during his daily routine. He also used therapeutic listening twice daily.

The therapeutic listening made a HUGE difference in his eating!  He has gained 32 lbs and 5″ in a year and a half and is now 50% for both height and weight as opposed to not even being on the growth chart before. More importantly we are able to sit down and eat as a family and actually enjoy ourselves! We ended up purchasing his favorite therapeutic listening music (“ez listening”) and when he starts to narrow his food choices, we restart the therapeutic listening for a few weeks and his symptoms improve.

Max still has difficulty with emotional regulation. I think he was in “fight or flight” response from the sensory defensiveness for SO long that he literally was in continuous survival mode. Now that he has discovered tools to help calm himself, we have been able to work on social skills and dealing with his emotions. All of these skills have helped turn him from a “behavioral problem” at school into a star student. His self esteem also has improved now that he knows he has control over these issues and they don’t have to control him.

We are still struggling with the school to get accommodations for his handwriting but other than that he is doing really, really well!

Grant’s mom provided this testimony:

Grant is now four years old.  I noticed problems with Grant’s development within six months after he was born. He was hypersensitive to light, sound, and visual patterns/movement, and did not respond to his name. When I had him evaluated at nine months through Tiny K (the state Infant/Toddler special services agency) they told me everything was fine.

As he grew, Grant’s ‘symptoms’ increased and became more pronounced. He repeated sounds (echolalic speech), never expressed his needs like hunger or thirst, had a high pain threshold, toe walking, poor motor control, terrible sleep, increased hyper-sensitivity to small sounds and light, and hypo-sensitivity to smells, heat/cold. Socially he preferred adults to children and acted as if children in a room with him didn’t exist

Finally at age 2½ Grant was re-evaluated and began OT sessions through Tiny K. They helped me to start to understand a bit about ‘sensory’ issues (particularly visual and auditory) and how these related to many of Grant’s issues. I also learned how ‘poor motor planning’ was another key to many of Grant’s difficulties. The OT there worked with Grant once a week and addressed play skills that helped with creative play, washing hands-a big issue I was struggling with at the time (helping me to break down steps for him to be able to do this), fine motor skills (like putting a toy together), blowing/mouth games, etc.

When Tiny K exhausted its services mandate, I knew Grant needed to continue to receive OT (as we had JUST gotten started and it was a LATE start in my opinion, since his issues were visible before 2 ½ years old). So I went to Jenny’s Kids, Inc. where Grant restarted OT sessions  in June 2012 (age 3) that included sound therapy. There are so many activities that have helped Grant! I think Therapeutic Listening (2x/day-am and pm and we still do it almost every day with maintenance CD chips) has been very helpful for him. Ever since Grant was an infant, he has ALWAYS responded positively to music, so that may be why I feel he has responded well to the Therapeutic Listening. It seemed to make a difference almost immediately.

I can honestly say, without a doubt, Grant has progressed by leaps and bounds from his OT sessions, which have included TL from the beginning! His therapy included the entire gamut of sensory gym and ‘play stations’. He especially liked the hammock swing, ball pit, and crawling through the ‘tunnel’.

I can’t imagine where we would be with Grant if it hadn’t been for you Jenny! From the first day he started TL (Rhythm and Rhyme), there was a clear calmness and lack of overreaction to dropping a dish and it breaking. He would have had a complete tantrum- not sure if it was sound “deadening” of the ear phones or the TL music itself. Instead, he came over to me and said “Hug” and I gave him a hug! He’d never reacted this way before to something like that (instead he would scream and yell and run away)! We both cleaned up the mess calmly. It was amazing!

In that first 2 weeks, we saw all kinds of things. He was hugging more, playing with toys better and we actually saw him for the first time put together a train track!! Also, he commented for the first time on the SMELL of something! This was huge (you’d think I’d remember what is was but I don’t), but he had never commented on how something smelled before in his life-even BAD things! Since then, he now notices smells, both good and bad!

With Mozart Modulation, I remember for the first time I saw him waving at people and actually POINTING out things and talking about them when we were in the car (and he had TL on at the time.) He’d never really pointed at things since he was really young- he only did it a few times as a toddler. He also had fewer tantrums! While he still has some bad tantrums, they are far less frequent. He has become less rigid and more flexible!! While he still thrives on routine, he now requests that I take different ways home (vs. freaking out that I took a different turn or walked out a different door)! He is interested in going new places, where it seemed before he was anxious leaving the house and had started wanting to stay inside and not go places. This is life changing, as he has been able to experience being a kid without fear and instead experiencing JOY and FUN! He has improved in all personal skill areas, body awareness, crawling, tunneling, jumping, bilateral coordination, and dressing himself, better motor planning, improved attention span, and better social skills.

Overall we feel that the TL has improved Grant’s self-regulation. He has less tantrums and transitions easier. He also moves about his environment with better body awareness. I believe it has also improved his socialization skills with peers. I DEFINITELY feel that it has helped him to be less hypersensitive to environmental sounds (water running, airplanes, A/C/furnace, etc.)

(Note: Grant has had a weekly OT session from June 2012 to present.)

For Part 4

A brief review of the most popular Sound Therapy products and their advantages and disadvantages.


About Emily Lauren

Jenny Clark, OTR/L, BCP (AOTA Board Certification in Pediatrics), is a licensed pediatric occupational therapist with over 22 years experience working as a school-based occupational therapist, independent contractor for early intervention services, private practitioner, speaker, consultant, author, and inventor. Jenny currently owns a pediatric therapy private practice, Jenny’s Kids, Inc. Jenny Clark Jenny is the author of the best-selling book on sensory processing entitled Learn to Move, Move to Learn: Sensorimotor Early Childhood Activity Themes(AAPC 2004), (Starter Kit available) More recently Ms Clark has written a sequel Learn to Move, Moving Up! Sensorimotor Elementary School Activity Themes (AAPC 2009). In addition, she has published two DVD’s Learn to Move: Dinosaurs (AAPC 2005), a companion to her first book, and Sensory Processing Disorder Kit: Simulations and Solutions for Parents, Teachers, and Therapists (AAPC 2006), which won the 2007 media in excellence video award from Autism Society of America. Jenny’s newest publication is a music CD, Sing, Move, Learn (AAPC 2010), which accompanies the songs in her first book. Ms. Clark is a contributing author for the book Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Handbook for Parents and Professionals (Greenwood Publishing Group 2007), as well as a chapter author for Autism Spectrum Disorders: Foundations, Characteristics, and Effective Strategies. (Pearson Publishing 2011 by Boutot & Myles). Jenny is the inventor of the Patent-Pending “Weigh” Cool Bracelet. Jenny has spoken both nationally and internationally on a variety of topics, including sensory integration/processing. She received her bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy and graduated with distinction from the University of Kansas.
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