Autism and Auditory Hypersensitivity: Hope for Relief

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Helping individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) achieve their greatest potential has been something close to my heart throughout my career. This interest has lead me in many directions including; research, developing scientifically optimized music for brain training, conference presentations, board positions in autism organizations, and writing.

One of my questions has been why do people with ASD so frequently demonstrate behaviors related to sensory over responsitivity (SOR), specifically auditory  hypersensitivity, also called hyperacousis and misophonia? This is a condition that touches not just the majority of individuals with autism, but many others including the so-called “neurotypical”. Sound hypersensitivity can be absolutely debilitating. It is heart-wrenching to see a child or adult suffer pain or perception of pain from everyday sounds.

In the quest to help, I’ve been so fortunate that Dr. Jay R. Lucker of the Department of Communication Sciences at Howard University and I share this interest. For years we have collaborated on research related to this phenomenon. Our first joint article on the topic “Auditory Hypersensitivity and Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Emotional Response” was published in Autism Science Digest in 2012. We then wrote an extensive follow-up to the Autism Science Digest article which is a deeper exploration into the neural mechanisms involved in auditory hypersensitivity which was just published in the peer reviewed journal Autism Research and Treatment.

Abstract

Professionals working with children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may find that these children are overly sensitive to sounds. These professionals are often concerned as to why children may have auditory hypersensitivities. This review article discusses the neural mechanisms identified underlying hypersensitive hearing in people. The authors focus on brain research to support the idea of the nonclassical auditory pathways being involved in connecting the auditory system with the emotional system of the brain. The authors also discuss brain mechanisms felt to be involved in auditory hypersensitivity. The authors conclude with a discussion of some treatments for hypersensitive hearing. These treatments include desensitization training and the use of listening therapies such as The Listening Program.

If you are a parent of a child with autism, caregiver, educator, or therapist who is touched by someone with autism, or you yourself are on the autism spectrum I do hope this latest research article provides some answers, and hope for relief from over sensitivity to sounds.

 

New Autism Study Demonstrates The Listening Program Improves Auditory Skills

A new study in the UK demonstrates The Listening Program® developed by Advanced Brain Technologies improves auditory skills in children with autism.

“A Study to Establish Whether the Use of The Listening Program is Effective in Improving Auditory Skills for Children with Autism” was presented by Gwyneth Jeyes  at the Developmental Practitioners Association Conference “Children Matter” In Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom back in September.

Twelve children on the autism spectrum ranging in age from 5 yrs. 8 mo. to 12 yrs. 4 mo. in Northern Ireland participated in the study. Results from the SCAN-C test for Auditory Processing Disorders demonstrated improvements in auditory skills in all children who completed The Listening Program® method of music listening therapy.

The Listening Program® has been widely used for more than a decade to reduce auditory hypersensitivites, improve auditory discrimination, increase communication skills, and social engagement for children on the autism spectrum. The outcomes of this research are encouraging, consistent with other studies,  and warrant the design of  a larger, controlled study to explore the feasibility of more widespread use of this music listening therapy method to improve auditory processing skills for children with autism spectrum disorders.

To read the full study

Autism Awareness Month-Best Possible Life

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It’s Autism Awareness Month. This is a time the world is bringing autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to light, so they can be better understood and appreciated.

The autism community is unfortunately divided. Lines are drawn in the sand, Accept/Cure, and on. This post will not delve into the divide. I am not a parent of a child on the spectrum and  have not walked in their shoes. 

However, I am someone who cares deeply for families touched by autism as my family has for generations. What I think important is that we recognize each individual labeled as having an autism spectrum disorder as the unique and special person they are. For they like everyone I want nothing more than the BEST possible life they can have.  And, for those that love them to appreciate they have infinite potential. We should do all that we can to understand the cause(s), develop reliable early indentification, and provide sufficient opportunities for growth, learning, and personal development.

My company is the developer of The Listening Program® method of music-based auditory stimulation. It’s used by parents, educators, and healthcare professionals with hundreds if not thousands of people diagnosed with ASD’s on a daily basis.  I am vested in this discussion.  We work with people across the globe challenged with how to provide the best opportunities for families touched by these disorders.  Ultimately we all want the same thing, a happy, fulfilling life for those we serve. That’s where my awareness centers, today and everyday. 

Here are a few links I hope you find helpful:

AutismSpot www.autismspot.com

Autism Hangout www.autismhangout.com

Autism Research Institute www.autism.com

Autism Treatment Center of America www.autismtreatmentcenter.org  

Autism-Asperger’s Digest Magazine www.aspergersdigest.com

DIR®/Floortime www.icdl.com

Dr.Charles Shidlofsky www.dr-s.net 

Enzymedica www.enzymedica.com

National Association for Child Development www.nacd.org 

SI Focus Magazine www.sifocus.com

The Listening Program® www.thelisteningprogram.com

Autism: What the Experts Know http://tinyurl.com/dd583n (Disclaimer, while a contributor to this resource I in no way see myself as an expert on autism).