Listening is the ability to actively focus on desired sounds and protect oneself from unwanted sounds. Its function is to focus and protect the ears, in much the same way as vision functions to focus and protect the eyes. The eyes and ears, along with the touch sensors of the skin, are the teleceptors that most commonly inform us of incoming sensory information. The brain then interprets that information so that the person can make an organized motor response. The focusing aspect of this sensory motor loop helps an individual orient themselves, as well as other objects, in space and time. The protection aspect of this sensory motor loop helps determine if the incoming information is harmful or pleasant.
LiFT (Listening Fitness Trainer) is modeled after the work of Dr. Alfred Tomatis, a French ear, nose and throat specialist, who developed the first method of listening training using sound stimulation. (click here for more on Dr. Tomatis) Dr. Tomatis began his research after working with Opera singers who were suffering from strained vocal cords, while at the same time studying the effect of excessive noise on the hearing of factory workers. Dr. Tomatis recognized the ear-voice feedback loop as the critical factor in listening fitness or health. The revolutionary discovery of this loop, as a powerful sensory-motor integrator of the body and the mind, has allowed for significant advancements in treatment. Simply put, Dr. Tomatis’ research determined that listening is dependent upon the quality of hearing our own voice; hence, better listening leads to a richer voice and richer voice enhances listening.
The LiFT Program:
Listening Fitness is an educational modality that uses our own voice and music, rich in high frequencies, to develop and improve listening skills. The LiFT is a portable audio device used for the Listening Fitness program. Consisting of a microprocessor with headset attached to a microphone, the LiFT is suited for people of all ages and may be adopted to meet individulal needs.
The LiFT assists our natural abilities to fine tune our perception of incoming sounds with greater ease. The rich, high frequency sounds of certain musical compositions are able to train the listener’s ears, and modulate our ability to attune and protect.
The LiFT Program begins with a standardized questionnaire and intake interview (click here to request a quetionnaire, and schedule an interview) designed to determine the person’s Listening Profile. The Listening Profile helps to set achievable goals and set the pacing of the program. The client then completes 2, 15-day training series with the LiFT while participating in other prescribed multisensory, posture building, academic, motor coordination and relaxation activities. During the second training period, voice work is introduced with the use of a microphone in order to improve the ear-voice feedback loop for more sustainable results.
Common results of the program include: improved reading, writing and communication skills; heightened development of self regulation, which includes better breathing, sleeping and eating patterns; as well as increased attention span, social adaptability and bowel/bladder control.
Common presenting issues and diagnosis:
Children with listening problems may present from hyperactive to withdrawn. They may be shy in social situations, or have difficulty with concentration. Some children with listening problems may be misunderstood as defiant because they may not hear when their name is called, or avoid eye contact. Some children are overly sensitive to environmental sounds, causing them tostartle; or some children will hum a lot, trying to drown out the background noises. Many children and adults also experience tactile defensiveness (sensitivity to touch), and find certain textures and foods displeasing.
Adults with listening problems present with a wide variety of issues. Some adults present with decreased vitality and energy level, poor memory and concentration, and feeling disorganized; while others complain of difficulty relaxing or feeling centered. Those whose work involves speaking in front of groups; like salespeople, performers, teachers and executives; often requiregreater voice quality, confidence and projection for more effective public speaking. Adults learning a second language also benefit from a new ability to tune into unfamiliar sounds with improved listening skills.
Other diagnoses which will improve from LiFT Listening Fitness are auditory and sensory processing disorders, attention deficit disorders with or without hyperactivity (ADD or ADHD), Down syndrome, autism, pervasive development disorders (PDD), Asperger’s syndrome, dyslexia, learning disabilities, speech and language delays, fine motor coordination delays, and poor posture or coordination.