|What if you found a program for students that would result in:
|Through the work of dedicated pioneers in the field, a whole new world of listening, communication, and success has been opened to our students.Sound has a profound effect on living systems. Unlike light, which bounces off the body, sound goes directly in. The vagus nerve, which connects the ear to the brain, also connects the ear to nearly every organ in the body.Have you ever gone into a teenager’s room, and felt like the music rattled you from head to toe? It did! Literally, inside and out.Many studies have been done to understand the effect of noise on people and nature. One study found that children on the train track side of a New York public school lagged a year behind in learning to read when compared to their classmates on the other side of the building. Other studies have found the same learning difficulties for children living near airports. The learning environment for the average student today is bursting with distracting, everyday noise. Overhead lights emit low buzzing sounds. Air conditioners, computers, traffic and construction noise, and voices in the cafeteria or gym classes bombard students’ brains and compete for their attention. This seemingly continuous barrage of environmental noise is a constant source of stress in an already stress-filled society. Yet, the brain needs sound. A diet of healthy sound can have amazing effects on our learning, communication, emotions, relationships, sleep, coordination, creativity, organization and general sense of well-being.|
|A Look at Auditory Processing (The Technical Process)
In order to think about and understand language, an auditory stimulus (sound) has to be received by the outer ear and channeled through the middle and inner ear to the auditory nerve. The ear’s job at this point is hearing. Once the signal is transferred from the inner ear to the eighth auditory nerve, it goes on a journey through the brain stem and the brain on its way to the cortex where language is processed. The Central Auditory Nervous System (CANS), where this journey takes place, is an intricate system dedicated to dealing with auditory information.When the signal gets to an area of the brain called Heschl’s Gyrus the transition from auditory processing to language processing begins. It is at this point that the brain begins to process speech and language from the auditory signal. The final leg of the journey sends the language signals to the cortex where the information is coded, organized, interpreted, and understood. A central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) occurs when the auditory signal is received accurately by the ear, but becomes distorted, confused, or compromised in some way before it is received by the language area of the brain.
|It’s Hard to Get the Message When You Have A Bad Connection
Perhaps the best way to understand a central auditory processing disorder in our “modern age” is to think about what it is like to be in an important conversation with a bad cell phone connection. You have to listen extremely hard, and any extra noise around you (i.e. kids, traffic, etc.) becomes extremely irritating and hard to block out. Because the signal is not clear, you miss part of what the speaker is saying and you find yourself saying, “What did you say?” and struggling to fill-in the gaps. You’re not exactly sure what the speaker said, but you don’t want to sound stupid or uninterested, so you make what you think is an appropriate response. Oops! That backfired. Now you have to explain about the bad connection and why you misinterpreted what they said and made an “off-the-wall” response. You do not quite understand the speaker, yet when you have a clear connection, you really don’t have a comprehension problem. It’s taking so much energy to keep up with this conversation, that you find your attention drifting. You’re feeling distracted and frustrated, and doggone it, important or not, you just want to get off the phone! Luckily for cell phone users, the way to a better connection is to hang-up and dial again. But for students with CAPD, this is life.
|Leading the Sensory Team
The auditory system is like the quarterback of the “captain” of the sensory team. It is the first system to function in utero and it is the system that allows the sensory team to work efficiently. When the auditory system is weak, it can affect the integration of information being fed to the brain and the nervous system by the other senses.An inefficient auditory system can inhibit the development of strong listening skills. There is a difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is passive. Listening is active and conscious and has a huge impact on learning.Inadequately developed listening skills can cause problems with information processing, attention, memory, concentration, relationships, motor coordination, language learning and communication.The ear is tied-in to the vestibular system (balance and movement), so coordination, posture, and sensorimotor integration can be affected by a weak auditory system.Through improved listening, we see improved spatial awareness which supports organization; better body control for sitting in a chair and posture; improved eye-hand coordination for writing and improved motor coordination and performance in sports.A well-functioning ear is like a battery which changes sound waves into electrical waves. These electrical waves stimulate the cortex (the thinking and learning part of the brain). Healthy sounds are nutrients that can stimulate the middle ear and charge the nervous system.Because the auditory system has strong interconnections on multiple levels across both sides of the brain and throughout the body, it can impact how energized or de-energized we feel, how well we process information for learning, and how alert and organized we are. Just as a healthy diet contributes to the physical and mental health, healthy sound makes healthier, more available learners.
|Music and Sound Therapy
Over the years at the Learning Center, we have found that the use of music has been a tremendous tool for opening the door to learning and communication. For students that were shut-down to learning because of constant failure, music was an avenue to renew hope and interest. Our interest in music therapy as a gateway with emotionally-blocked students gradually led us to the use of music and sound stimulation to strengthen and re-train the auditory system for learning, communication, comprehension, and language.Auditory stimulation and training has been effective in treating a variety of disorders, including auditory processing disorders, speech and language disorders, learning disabilities, autism and spectrum disorders, attention deficit disorders, and reading and spelling disorders.The focus of auditory stimulation and training is on reeducating the ear and auditory pathways.