Listening and Other Therapies for SPD

Listening therapy (LT)

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Listening therapy (LT) is a therapeutic program to improve the neurophysiological foundation for integrating sensory input by using specific sound frequencies and patterns to stimulate the brain. Like occupational therapy, LT is based on the theory of neuroplasticity, which refers to brain changes that occur as a result of experience. In the United States, a variety of listening systems is available to deliver LT.

One of these is Integrated Listening Systems (iLs), which is used in combination with OT at the STAR Center of Denver. The music is delivered via iPod in a portable waist pack. It is an enjoyable therapy and an effective complement to OT.

Combination therapy

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Occupational therapy (OT) may be combined with listening therapy (LT) to “jump-start” the change process in the nervous system, essentially accelerating the effects of treatment by stimulating the auditory as well as the other sensory systems directly.

These systems (the vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile, and auditory) play key foundational roles in motor planning, language, learning, and visual processing and contribute significantly to cognitive and emotional development.

Complementary therapies

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A number of complementary and alternative therapies, such as the “Wilbarger protocol” (commonly called “brushing”), have been developed to treat children with Sensory Processing Disorders. The Wilbarger protocol, craniosacral manipulation, acupuncture, and other alternative and complementary therapies may have a role within a comprehensive treatment program.

However, research has not yet confirmed their effectiveness. These and all therapies should be used only by a qualified therapist and should never be used as stand-alone techniques or by anyone who has not received specific training in the method.

In the future, effectiveness research will verify whether these techniques provide valuable enhancements to traditional therapy programs. In the meantime, isolated treatments are not a substitute for sound research-based treatment and comprehensive family-centered intervention.