Integrated Listening System

We got an exciting call at the end of August from Doreen Hunt, an Occupational Therapy at Children’s Therapy of Woodinville, the same location as Joshua’s speech therapist, Amanda.  Doreen was looking for children on the autism spectrum to be a part of a research study conducted by the Spiral Foundation in conjunction with Children’s Therapy of Woodinville, and 3 other programs across the United States, utilizing a therapy using a home-based integrated listening system, the iLs Focus program:  Amanda recommended Joshua as soon as she heard Doreen was doing this study with autistic children.  This program involves Joshua listening to processed classical music delivered through customized headphones, fitted with both air and bone conduction capabilities, while completing some gross motor activities.  They will observe if the intervention affects Joshua’s motor, sensory, behavioral, and social-emotional behavior.     The study will take approximately 26 weeks and will consist of 3 phases.  The first and third phases will be pre- and post-intervention data collection phases and the second phase will be a 12 week intervention program with the headphones and music.  Joshua is not to be doing any other OT during this study time, aside what is done at school.

I am so excited about this opportunity for Joshua!  I had heard about this program and had wanted him to be able to do it for a long time.  I had first heard about this program when Joshua started speech therapy at Children’s Therapy of Woodinville with Amanda.   I had seen Doreen with some of her other clients and their families using the system and Doreen shared that she has been using this with her kids for 3 years and seeing great results.  We were certainly interested, however, it wasn’t covered by insurance due to being an alternative treatment, and the home system was cost prohibitive.  Doreen shared with me that upon the completion of the study, we would be able to keep the system for continued use at home (and perhaps some other kids could benefit from using it, too).

ILs, as mentioned above, uses music with various frequencies and large motor movement to improve brain function.  The website listed above, notes the benefits:

iLs has a global effect on the brain and central nervous system, influencing the following systems: balance, visual, auditory, motor, coordination,  behavior and emotional regulation.  As a result, it is successfully implemented for a wide variety of conditions:

  • Learning difficulties such as reading, spelling, math, auditory processing and attention
  • Sensory processing and integration
  • Stress, sleep, emotional regulation and mood problems
  • Those with autism and neuro-developmental difficulties

To start the study, Bryan and I gave our consent, which we eagerly did so, and I got to  fill out a copious amount of questionnaires.  Joshua was evaluated by Doreen on September 9th and I was set up with weekly questionnaires to fill out and send in as to how Joshua does, week by week.  Some of the delays Doreen noticed in Joshua was  in the learning hierarchy, as he is stuck both in the Primitive Reflexes and Postural Reflexes of the Learning Hierarchy (with the remaining levels as Motor Patterns, Perception, Language, Conceptualization and Academic Higher Level Functioning.  The following  website tells more about The Importance of Integrating Reflexes, by Sonia Story, which is really quite interesting: ) Doreen  gave us additional information on the Learning Hierarchy, which, according to Claire Hocking, Educational Kinesiologist and Brain Gym Instructor in Australia,

if the foundations, the primitive and postural reflexes are unstable, weak or have gaps in their development, they will undermine all other levels to some degree.  The motor, perception, speech and conceptualization will also be unstable and breakdown in any or all of these areas can occur causing the higher-level functioning areas to also be affected.  Although these stages do overlap to a certain extent, if a stage is missed, interfered with or not fully integrated, it can prevent full development of subsequent stages.  Unfortunately, the child will not “grow out” of their learning and behavior problems.  The problems may alter and appear to improve as the child learns to compensate in other ways, but he weakness in their system will remain, causing stress on their system.  They may also resurface when the child moves to more intensive learning situations where the demands of higher learning are greater and the pressure for academic progress more urgent.

Doreen encouraged me to get Joshua on her waiting list for after the study was completed so she could continue to work with him to overcome these delays.  I’m hopeful we can get him on an insurance she contracts with, so she can continue working with him.  Considering her high demand, we are going to go ahead and put him on her wait list, which is 6 months long, anyway.

To prepare Joshua for the study, Doreen loaned us a CD player with ear phones so as to help him get used to wearing ear phones, as he will need to wear them 1 hour a day, 5 days a week, while doing some prescribed activities.  The trick is to have him keep them on at least 30 minutes at a time, so we are building up his tolerance.  He did really well on Monday, wearing them while working on a floor puzzle with the kids.  He needed some redirection at first, but lasted the entire 30 minutes.  He wore them again on Wednesday, for another 30 minutes and later, for 20 minutes more until he dropped the compact cd player, causing it to stop working.  We will use one of the girls’ MP3 players until the equipment is available for him to use, and Doreen assured me it’s much more sturdy and will withstand Joshua dropping it on occasion.  In the mean time, filling out the weekly questionnaires have been quite helpful as to what behaviors to be aware of with Joshua to note his improvement.  As it is, he seems to be talking a little bit more, seeking out interactions and humming.  He’s quite delightful, despite his episodes of having occasional meltdowns for unknown reasons.  We will see how this program can help Joshua.  I am hopeful, which is what every parent of an autistic child needs:  Hope.

Joshua practicing wearing headphonesJoshua practicing wearing headphones


This entry was posted on Monday, September 26th, 2011 at 2:19 am and is filed under General Autism Info. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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