Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

Using Auditory Stimulation with Students at Lavelle School for the Blind

Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

Using Auditory Stimulation with Students at Lavelle School for the Blind

Article excerpt

In working with students with visual impairments (that is, those whose impairment ranges from low vision to total vision loss), the development of sensory-processing skills in the auditory system are crucial to daily functioning, as well as being a means to compensate for the loss of visual information. Using music-based auditory stimulation can affect change in the auditory system by improving the way information is processed in the brain. Use of appropriate auditory stimulation with the right duration, frequency, and intensity can improve auditory processing, and thus impact many areas of functions (Advanced Brain Technologies, 2009). The Listening Program (TLP) is one method of providing music-based auditory stimulation for students with visual impairments. Clinicians, teachers, and parents who have used the program with both children and adults have reported successes (see, for example, Jeyes, 2004; Lawrence, 2003; Nwora & Gee, 2009).

This Practice Perspectives essay describes two students attending the REACH program (in which students are actively preparing for adult roles and responsibilities) at the Lavelle School for the Blind who used TLP, while also receiving occupational and speech therapy and orientation and mobility (O&M) services. Although there were a number of students using TLP at the school, Anna and Larry (pseudonyms) were the only two students within the 2009-2010 school year that were able to complete one cycle of TLP.

Improvement in the behavior of each student was reported by their teacher and two service providers, who were interviewed informally. Decreased body rocking, better sitting posture, more verbal communication among peers and teachers, better balance on unstable surfaces, and improved learning ability were reported.

Although many factors may impact students' progress in school--including other services like O&M, speech and occupational therapy, school curriculum, classroom environment, growth and development of the student--this positive findings of this essay warrants further study on the use of music-based auditory stimulation with visually impaired students. Integration of TLP into the school curriculum is a necessity in order to ensure daily listening, in addition to use of objective data collection of functional outcomes.

THE PROGRAM

Using modified music to provide auditory stimulation acts to normalize the auditory system so the full spectrum of sound is processed without distortion (Doman, 2005). Use of modified music can impact many areas, including listening skills, attention, speech and language, self-regulation, sensory integration, physical balance, and coordination. Listening is one of the primary skills needed in the classroom in order for learning to occur. For individuals with visual impairments, listening is also a primary sensory system that is utilized for spatial orientation, environmental awareness, and safe travel indoors and outdoors. In addition, poorly regulated sensory systems can include self-stimulatory behaviors such as body rocking or covering the ears, impeding attention and participation in the classroom. Therefore, use of music-based auditory stimulation can provide wide range of benefits for students. Even those with hearing loss, hearing aids, or cochlear implants can utilize the program and obtain similar benefits. Although the hearing loss cannot be regained, listening skills with the current level of hearing can be made better with auditory stimulation.

TLP was first manufactured by Advanced Brain Technologies in 1999. It is based on the work of a physician, Alfred Tomatis, who began using sound-based interventions as treatment modalities for various medical diagnoses in the 1950s (Hall & Case-Smith, 2007). Dr. Tomatis ascertained that specific frequencies of sound relate to different areas of bodily function (Advanced Brain Technologies, 2009). TLP uses certain classical music that produces sound waves in organized patterns of time, space, frequency, and volume, which is designed to affect the nervous system. …

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