Integrated Listening Therapy for Your Child’s Multi-System Sensory Needs.
We use Integrated Listening Systems (iLs) Therapy to improve children’s auditory processing abilities.
We evaluate children using the sensory processing measure and through extensive interviews with families to gain information on a child’s ability to process sensory input. Some children receive iLs during Occupational Therapy, but not every child is appropriate for iLs. For some children we recommend iLs as a home program. At times we will recommend iLs simultaneously with Occupational Therapy or Speech-Language Therapy if we feel that simultaneous listening and OT or ST is the most efficient method of providing sensory input to optimize listening function.
What is iLs?
iLs therapy at Spark Therapies builds upon the psychoacoustic techniques developed by Alfred Tomatis, M.D., in Europe and refined by Integrated Listening Systems. Children utilize bone-conducting headphones to listen to high-quality productions of Mozart and other classics which have been digitally manipulated to enhance certain sound frequencies. This exercise is a neurophysiological foundation for integrating sensory input by using specific sound frequencies, vibrations, and patterns to stimulate the brain. This stimulation “retrains” the brain and teaches it to respond differently to sensory input.
What is the Science behind iLs?
Think of the cerebellum (lower back side of the brain, near the brain stem) as a powerful computer processor, transferring vast amounts of information to the movement, language, reasoning, sensory, and emotion parts of the brain; it’s role is so important that it contains more nerve cells than the rest of the brain combined.
Integrated Listening Systems (iLs) programs stimulate cerebellar activity to strengthen neural connections and, in the process, improve our ability to make skills such as reading, writing, spelling, etc. automatic.
What Systems does iLs Impact?
Integrated Listening Systems (iLs) builds a solid foundation for learning and communicating through repeated, gentle stimulation of the following systems:
Directly connected to the cochlea of the inner ear is the vestibular system. It controls our balance, coordination, muscle tone, rhythm and awareness of our body in space. It plays a key role in organizing motor output and posture.
Enhanced Skills: coordination, balance, focus, self-regulation
Decoding, phonemic awareness, listening in a noisy classroom and speaking clearly require efficient processing and storage of information. Additionally, the bone conduction delivery in Integrated Listening Systems (iLs) headphones provides a unique stimulation to the vestibular system.
Enhanced Skills: pitch discrimination, auditory processing, reading, mood, concentration and balance
The auditory and vestibular systems that are stimulated by the Integrated Listening Systems (iLs) music and have direct neural connections to the Visual Motor system subcortically. Orienting to the source of a sound or one’s name being called out utilizes this relationship between the vestibular, auditory and visual motor systems.
Enhanced Skills: reading, hand/eye coordination, balance, sports
The sense of one’s own body – where it is, how to control it, how to move it – to the point where we don’t need to think about it comes from the receptors in our joints and muscles called proprioception. This is another sensory system too often overlooked as contributing to behavior and learning tasks. When this system in integrated with the other sensory systems the brain is freed up to focus on higher order activities.
Enhanced Skills: motor planning, athletics, coordination, awareness of personal space, confidence, regulation
The autonomic nervous system (ANS) controls many organs and muscles that work in an involuntary, reflexive manner. The ANS is important in 2 situations: emergencies that require us to “fight” or to take “flight” (the sympathetic SNS) and non-emergencies that allow us to “rest and digest” (the parasympathetic PNS). The gentle stimulation of the PNS brings about a balance of the ANS which is reflected by increased calm and self-regulation.
Enhanced Skills: increased sense of calm, longer fuse, happier, improved sleep and digestion
The cerebellum is 10% of the weight of the brain but it has 50% of the brain’s neurons. In computer terms, it’s our processor, receiving input from sensory systems and various parts of the brain, and integrating these inputs to fine-tune motor activity.
Enhanced Skills: control of motor movement; “automaticity” (motor activities becoming automatic); acquisition of new skills; visual motor control and cognitive skills
The brain defies categorization of function into neatly organized compartments but rather utilizes multiple areas simultaneously for any one function – reading being a good example. Brain areas from front to back and from left to right are simultaneously involved in this activity. This requires precise, rapid and clear communication within and between hemispheres.
Enhanced Skills: You name it. Improved hemispheric integration applies to almost everything the brain does.
What does iLs at Spark look like?
Listening therapy, like occupational therapy, is based on the theory of neuroplasticity, which refers to brain changes that can occur. iLs therapy, when not combined with OT, takes place in a quiet sensory safe space within the clinic with pleasant lighting and décor that produce a calm, peaceful environment. During therapy, specific sound and vibration frequencies and patterns are delivered through specially designed headphones.
When children are treated with iLs therapy only, they may engage in creative art projects supplied by Spark Therapies or bring their own pet projects or activities such as knitting, reading, or scrapbooking.
In addition the the specially designed bone-conducting headphones used in the iLs system, Spark Therapies also has a DreamPad on site for calming use while in clinic. If you have considered purchasing a DreamPad, feel free to use ours in clinic before you buy it to ensure it is a good fit for your child.
Sources & Resources
Study: K-2 Literacy Study
DreamPad Study by the University of Columbia: Comparative Effectiveness of Three Occupational Therapy Sleep Interventions: A Randomized Controlled Study