Volume 8 Number 4, 2001

Tricks of the Trade: Wearing Headphones
Sometimes a child will refuse to wear headphones during a listening session. In most cases, the child does not want to sit quietly in a room for a relatively long period of time. However, in some cases, the child is tactilely sensitive around his/her head and/or ear region. One way to desensitize these regions is to brush these areas using a soft hairbrush. (Note: if the brushing pressure is too light, tactile sensitivity may actually increase.) Parents and teachers can also place a telephone receiver against the child’s ears to familiarize him/her to the constant pressure against the ears.

For children who are not tactilely sensitive, another method, which works on occasion, is placing the headphones on the child’s leg or arm. The child will likely think this gesture is silly. The practitioner can then ask “Well, where are the headphones supposed to go?” The child may then say “on my ears” or “on my head.” At this point, the practitioner places the headphones on the child’s ears/head. This method really does work for some children.

Headphone slippage is sometimes a problem when children wear professional, adult headphones. Several things can be used to reduce this problem, such as wearing a headband, placing a sponge between the top of the head and headphones, and/or covering the headphones with a hood (i.e., wearing a hooded sweatshirt).

Children are often tempted to play with the headphone cord. By placing the cord behind the child’s back, he/she will be less likely to see and play with the cord. In other words, ‘out of sight, out of mind.’

It is also important that the practitioner check the sound output of the headphones either before or after each listening session. If there is a problem with the headphones, the listener may not be able to inform his/her parents nor the practitioner of the problem, which could include white noise in the output or even no sound at all.

If you know of other ‘tricks of the trade,’ please write to us so we can share them with our membership.

News and Notes
Results from SAIT’s 2001 Board of Director’s elections are as follows: Beverly Hall (practitioner), Sheila Frick (practitioner), Lorna Jean King (professional, non-practitioner), and Jonathan Kaunitz, M.D. (parent) were elected to serve 2-year terms.

The auditory intervention comparison table, which was published in the last issue of The Sound Connection (2001, Vol. 8, No. 3), has been posted on SAIT’s web site (www.sait.org). If you would like to receive a ‘clean’ black and white copy of the table, printed on 11” x 17” paper, simply contact us.

SAIT is currently organizing two booklets for parents. One booklet will contain previously published articles from The Sound Connection on auditory integration training (AIT). The second booklet will contain previously published articles from The Sound Connection on auditory issues and other, non-AIT interventions. Copies of these booklets will be mailed to SAIT members in early Fall.

SAIT recently sponsored a booth in the exhibit area of the Autism Society of America’s annual conference in San Diego. SAIT representatives, Terrie Silverman (Board member), Sally Brockett (President and Board member), and Steve Edelson (Vice-President) took turns working at the booth. They had a chance to talk to many parents and professionals who were interested in learning about AIT and other auditory interventions.

Comparison Table: Music Processing and Types of Music Used by the Various Auditory Intervention Programs

Click here to view the table.

Listening Fitness with the LiFTTM
The Listening Fitness Trainer, or LiFTTM, was developed by Paul Madaule and is based on the work of Alfred Tomatis. The LiFTTM is an educational device that is designed to improve receptive and expressive listening and voice production. The LiFTTM is based on the notion that “better listening leads to a richer voice and rich voice enhances listening.”

The LiFTTM program involves listening to pre-recorded music in which low and high frequencies are presented at random, and is rich in high frequency sounds (referred to as the ‘Receptive Phase’). The program also involves listening to one’s own voice (referred to as the ‘Expressive Phase’). When listening to one’s own voice, Madaule believes that one can develop a more functional ear-voice feedback loop, which is important for speech and language as well as self-regulation and self-control.

This program is not recommended for children and adults with neurological, degenerative, or psychiatric problems, including those with autism or Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD).

To be a LiFTTM instructor, one needs at least five years of professional experience in a related area (e.g., special education, music therapy). Instructors must complete a 3 ½-day course, and this is followed by supervision of seven clients over an 18-month period. The cost of the training course is $1,320.

Equipment for the LiFTTM program includes a Walkman containing a special microprocessor chip, a headset with an attached microphone, four compact discs or audiotapes (i.e., entitled “Smart Sounds”), and Earobics Series 1 and 2. The cost of this package is $1,570.

At the present time, there are no published research studies supporting the efficacy of the LiFTTM.

For more information about the LiFTTM program, call Sophie Garceau at 416-588-4136 (Canada), or visit their web site at: www.listeningfitness.com

More Gray Matter Volume in Musicians
In a study recently presented at the American Academy of Neurology (May 8, 2001), neurologists Gottfried Schlaug and Gaser Christian from Germany found significantly more gray matter volume in both the left and right sensorimotor regions in musicians than in non-musicians.

Schlaug and Christian used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sequencing to study 15 professional musicians and 15 age and gender matched non-musicians. High resolution anatomical datasets were compared on a voxel-by-voxel basis using SPM99 software.

There are two conflicting explanations as for why professional musicians had more gray matter volume in the sensorimotor regions of their brains. One possibility is that this resulted in their having received music training at an early age and having practiced and performed for many years. Another possible explanation is that these musicians were born with more gray matter volume in their sensorimotor regions. Consequently, they may have had innate musical talent; and thus, they were more likely to pursue a music career.

The researchers concluded that more research is needed to determine whether there is a causal relationship between music training/experience and structural changes in the brain.

New Early Learning Music Program
Early Advantage, the distributors of the popular BBC’s Muzzy Language series, recently released Ruth Spencer’s Early Learning Music Program. This program is designed for children ages 2 to 9 years and provides them with experience in listening, learning and creating music. According to Early Advantage, this music program will teach children to communicate nonverbally, improve their mental concentration, and help them build self-confidence.

The program teaches rhythm, pitch, phrasing, dynamics, articulation and timbre. The entire program can be completed in eight weeks.

The program sells for $119 and contains 84 music lessons, 200 activities, 24 flash cards, and a parent guide. The program also includes compact discs or audiocassettes containing music, songs, and sing-along songs.

The Early Learning Music Program was developed by Ruth Spencer, a music professor at City University of New York. Ms. Spencer has served as a music consultant to the New York City Board of Education.

For more information, call 888-248-0480, or visit Early Advantage’s Internet web site at: www.early-advantage.com

Mercury, Mercury Detoxification and Hypersensitive Hearing?
As previously reported in The Sound Connection (2000, Vol. 8, No.1), mercury toxicity can lead to painful hyperacute hearing. The mercury toxicity issue has recently become a major concern in the field of autism and other related neurological and physiological disorders because many vaccines contain large amounts of mercury, which has been used as a preservative but is now being phased out.

We have heard two reports from parents whose child’s auditory hypersensitivity was reduced after receiving auditory integration training (AIT), but the child’s hypersensitivity reappeared soon after participating in a mercury detoxification procedure. This is a surprising development.

If you know of anyone who was affected, either positively or negatively, after receiving mercury detoxification, please write to us. We are also interested in learning about instances where the child’s hyperacute hearing had been instigated by a vaccine. We will continue to inform our membership of any further developments on this matter.