Sound Therapy

Benefits of Sound Therapy for: Learning Disabilities, ADHD, Dyslexia, & Auditory Processing*


Benefits of Sound Therapy for: Learning Disabilities, ADHD, 

Dyslexia, & Auditory Processing*

Posted on April 12, 2010 by Sound Therapy

Learning Difficulties

Learning difficulties and auditory processing problems: Learning difficulties is a general term meaning that a child (or adult) has difficulty learning in a typical manner because the brain has trouble processing information. A learning difficulty is not an indication of intelligence level, but it means the child will have trouble learning in the same way others do and may have trouble performing  certain types of tasks.

Global learning difficulties: If a child has “global  learning problems” then he will find all aspects of learning and understanding  difficult regardless of what method of teaching is used.  These children used to be called “slow learners.” Such a child will typically get a low score on IQ tests or other types of learning assessments.

Specific learning difficulties: Others may have “specific  learning difficulties” meaning that only certain aspects of processing  are problematic. These pupils are often quite bright but are sometimes misunderstood and mistaken for being lazy or careless, when in fact they are compensating for some type of sensory processing  problem. They may need a different type of instruction that suits their processing  style.  Specific therapeutic intervention may alleviate the difficulty considerably and enable these pupils to excel.

Can it be fixed? While a learning difficulty cannot normally be fixed completely, the right stimulation and inputs to the nervous system can significantly improve a child’s processing ability.  This can go a long way towards reducing the effects of the learning difficulty.

Remedial instruction, tutoring, speech therapy, etc. can be very helpful.  However, this type of individual remedial help will have a greater chance of working if the processing problem is addressed first. Sound Therapy is an easy, affordable, and effective way to improve sensory processing to address the cause of the problem.

Terminology: Some of the terms for different types of learning difficulties include dyslexia, dyspraxia, apraxia, sensory integration disorder, auditory processing  disorder or central auditory processing  disorder.


Posted on April 12, 2010 by Sound Therapy

The problem: Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder is a congenital problem which affects 20% of boys and 8% of girls. It is believed to be caused by a deficiency in the transmission system which relays messages between cells in various parts of the brain.  The majority of children with ADD/ADHD have auditory reception problems.  Although they can hear, they have difficulty making sense of what they hear.  They cannot tune out unwanted input and focus on selected sounds.  It is this indiscriminate reception of auditory input which leads to the inability to concentrate  their attention on a selected topic for any length of time.  Poor functioning of the frontal lobe means the child cannot think quickly enough to put the brakes on and control the impulse to act.  This impulsiveness and hyperactivity also leads to behavioral problems and poor social skills.

How Sound Therapy may help: By stimulating  the frontal lobe, Sound Therapy may restore the child’s ability to think quickly and put the brakes on before acting.  It may also retrain the listening capacity or the auditory reception process, so that the child can learn to focus on the desired sound and to relay the sound directly to the language centre in the brain.  Auditory reception problems are caused, in part, by the shutting down of the ear to certain frequencies of sound.  The ear muscles become lazy and unresponsive and must be stimulated  in order to regain the capacity to tune into the desired sound.  Sound Therapy has been shown to help provide this rehabilitation for the ear and may help to re-organize the auditory transmission in the brain.  This process helps to reduce stress and tension in the whole nervous system as the child becomes able to attend to a chosen stimulus instead of being constantly  distracted by every sound in the environment.

How to use it: Regular listening to Sound Therapy is essential to receive successful results. The child should listen every day if possible for between 30 and 60 minutes.  If it is possible to get the child to listen for longer than this each day, that will be even more beneficial. It may be difficult to persuade a child with ADD to sit still and listen – and although there is nothing wrong with listening on a personal cassette player while moving around, a child which is hyperactive may put the machine at risk!  Some parents have found they have more success in getting children with ADD to listen during sleep. If the child is a restless sleeper, the mini phones can be taped in to the ear with surgical tape, or you can use headphones that clip around the back of the ear.  Be sure to place the headphone marked R in the right ear. For listening during sleep, the music tapes are most suitable.

There is nothing wrong with offering incentives to get the child to listen.  The promise of a reward once the child has done say, 100 hours of listening may prove effective in some cases.

What it achieves: Very dramatic results may be achieved with Sound Therapy for children with ADD.  The first change you may observe could be a marked decrease in activity (for overactive children) while under active children may become more energized.  As listening discrimination is re-trained, memory and concentration improve so that learning can be achieved with a great deal less effort.  Sleep and appetite problems are resolved as the whole system becomes calmer and less erratic.  The behavioral difficulties, such as impulsiveness and aggression are now brought down to a manageable level.  The child may now be able to pay attention in class, understand and follow instructions  and be motivated to communicate and learn.


Posted on April 12, 2010 by Sound Therapy

The problem: Dyslexia, meaning “reading difficulty” was originally called “word blindness” and thought  to be a visual problem.  One of the earliest writers on the subject, Dr Hinshelwood, was an eye surgeon, which may account for the initial emphasis on visual difficulties.  Many more recent studies point to language and auditory problems as the fundamental cause.  Listening is the most basic skill required for verbal communication and a weakness in listening ability may hinder the development of a strong language base.  Consequently, the child encounters problems when it comes time to approach the more  complex linguistic tasks of writing and reading.  If the sounds of speech have not been accurately heard, they cannot be accurately conveyed by symbols.  The left hemisphere of the brain is the main centre for processing language.  In order for speech sounds to reach the brain efficiently the right ear must take a leading role in listening because the right ear communicates most directly with the left hemisphere.  Dr Tomatis contends that children with dyslexia have failed to achieve right ear dominance and that therefore the order in which they hear sounds becomes jumbled.  If they sometimes use the left and sometimes the right ear as the directing ear, sounds may reach the brain at different speeds, so letters will be jumbled.  This accounts for errors of reversal, such as writing “was” as “saw” or pronouncing “spaghetti” as “pisghetti”.

How Sound Therapy may help: The balance between the two hemispheres of the brain is of fundamental importance  in overcoming dyslexia.  Both hemispheres play a role in processing language, but the roles they play are different.  The eye must combine with the power and the quality of the ear to make sense of the written sounds.  This co-ordination happens easily when the left hemisphere deals primarily with audition and the right hemisphere deals primarily with vision.  In dyslexia, the route which allows for phonic analysis has been damaged.  Sound Therapy may help restore the functioning of this route and reduce the cause of the problem.  Tomatis says, “We read with our ears … the ear is the organ of language, the pathway to language assimilation, the key that controls it, the receptor regulating its flow.”  Sound Therapy may help stimulate and exercise the ear, encouraging it to receive and interpret sound in an efficient manner.  Music is a highly organized series of sounds that the ear has to analyze.  Therefore, listening to music is an excellent way for a child to learn how to perceive sounds in an organized fashion, or in other words, to listen.  The higher volume of sound to the right ear, which is built into all Sound Therapy recordings, means that the right ear is encouraged to become the directing ear.  When this right ear dominance is achieved, the problem of reversal will likely disappear.

The added benefits of confidence  and self esteem: Children with dyslexia often have feelings of inferiority after repeated failure. It is unfair that they must try many times harder than anyone else to achieve only mediocre results. Sound Therapy may offer immediate emotional relief because it is a method of treatment that requires no extra effort from the child.  A therapy that does not require the child to struggle with the problem area of language enables him or her to feel let off the hook for once and enjoy a treatment that is not a constant reminder of his or her own inadequacies.  The basic cause of the language difficulties may be remedied by Sound Therapy. Once the child is able to receive and interpret sound accurately and easily, his or her ability and motivation to communicate is greatly increased.  Thus the problem learner is transformed into a receptive and motivated learner.

How to use it: A child with dyslexia should listen to Sound Therapy every day for 30 to 60 minutes or more if desired.  Listening can be done during sleep, play, homework or travel. If the child wishes to listen at school, parents can ask for the consent of the teacher.  This will likely be granted as listening in the classroom will often help the child to concentrate and perform  better.  The reading aloud exercise while holding an imaginary microphone in the right hand has been particularly helpful for children with dyslexia.

Children who are experiencing difficulty with reading can begin this exercise after the first ten to twenty hours of listening.  The child sits in an erect but comfortable posture and reads aloud while holding the right hand near the mouth, as though holding an imaginary microphone.  This has the psychological effect of ‘switching on’ the voice.  At the same time it encourages right ear dominance, which is necessary for the successful conversion of visual symbols into sound.  This exercise should be done for fifteen minutes each day, and can be continued until the reading problems are resolved.  Encourage the child by making it into a fun game. Give your child positive attention while he or she is reading and this will create a positive association with reading aloud.

Auditory Processing

Posted on April 12, 2010 by Sound Therapy

Common to most learning difficulties is auditory processing disorder.  Even if the primary functional problem is a visual or motor problem, this processing is highly interactive and involved with the auditory system.  This is because the brain is a highly integrated structure where each sensory system interacts with other systems to help us make sense of our world.

The auditory sense is, in many ways, the sense with the most profound  impact on our learning ability.  Language is how we communicate about all topics, and hearing is more highly integrated into our nervous system than any other sense.

For this reason, any child with a learning difficulty is likely to benefit from Sound Therapy.  Sound Therapy definitely assists auditory processing, but it has also been found to improve other types of sensory processing (visual, motor skills, balance), as well as integration between the senses.

Successful listening and learning depends on good auditory processing.  Auditory processing means the ability to translate the stream of vocal speech sounds into words and meaning, and then recreate those sounds as speech.

Effective auditory processing  depends first on accurate hearing.  A child must be able to see the letter, hear the sound of the letter, say the sound, relate the sound to the written symbol for the letter, register it and store it in the auditory cortex so that in the future they can relate the letter symbol to the sound again and recreate it vocally.  Then they need to be able to blend the letter and its sound with all the other letters that form a word.  Therefore there is a great deal more than hearing required for successful use of language.

A fractional delay in any stage of this perception and vocalization can lead to great difficulties when it comes to learning the complex literary skills of reading, writing and spelling.  While difficulties in speech may go unnoticed in the early years, they become magnified under the pressure to perform at school and translate spoken into written skills.

Timing is a very crucial aspect of auditory processing, because a slight delay can mean the sounds are heard or perceived or reproduced  in the wrong order. Such difficulties with linear sequential processing  make it extremely difficult for the student to accomplish  note taking and writing.  Poor auditory memory may be part of the problem and a person who is otherwise quite intelligent may have enormous difficulties performing  academically when these functions are impaired.

How Sound Therapy may help

Right ear dominance: Sound Therapy recordings are made so that the sound is louder in the right ear.  This improves the efficiency of the brain in processing language because the right ear connects to the left side of the brain, which is the language centre.  The result is an improvement in reading and vocal skills.

Sound Therapy stimulates the brain pathways which enable very fast transmission of information from ear to brain and from brain to vocal apparatus.  When the processing speed is increased it is easier for the student to keep up and not be constantly struggling with information which is jumbled and mixed up because of being received in the wrong order.

* Full credit for this material and questionnaire is given to Sound Therapy International.  See for the original work.