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.

 

Autism Symptom Remission NIH Patient Study Recruitment

The NIH is running a study that many of you will find of interest. Please read below and consider sharing with parents you know who have children on the autism spectrum who have had a reduction in  symptoms. I am very encouraged to see NIH investigate the growing reports of recovery and symptom remission in children diagnosed with asd’s.

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Patient Recruitment Announcement at NIH:

Identification of Characteristics Associated with Symptom Remission in Autism

We are recruiting children and adolescents (ages 7-17) who, since being diagnosed with autism, have made significant improvements such that they no longer meet criteria for a diagnosis of autism.  We are also recruiting children who continue to meet criteria for autism, as well as typically developing children.  Our goal is to better understand how children who make remarkable improvement may differ from children who continue to meet criteria for autism.

The study involves several inpatient and outpatient visits to Bethesda, MD, that may occur over a few days or several weeks, depending on what works best for the child and his or her parents.  The study involves an autism diagnostic evaluation as well as a thorough neuropsychological and medical evaluation.  A summary of all clinically relevant study findings including results of the neuropsychological exam will be provided. There is no cost to participate and children are compensated for their time.  Travel assistance and lodging may be provided.

For further information please call the study coordinator at 301-435-7962 (TTY 866-411-1010) or email autismoutcomestudy@mail.nih.gov

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This study announcement is from the NIH Patient Recruitment web site:

Visit the NIH Patient Recruitment home page at http://patientinfo.nimh.nih.gov/

Occupational Therapy International Publishes Research on The Listening Program

Occupational Therapy International has just published a peer-reviewed special issue paper on the effectiveness of The Listening Program®. 

 

This purpose of this single-subject case design was to explore the efficacy of using The Listening Program® (TLP) method to improve overall sensory processing, and receptive/expressive language skills in a child diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).  

 

This research was conducted by, Amy J Nwora, Occupational Therapy Department, D’Youville College, Buffalo, NY, USA and  Bryan M Gee, Department of Physical and Occupational Therapy, Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID, USA.

 

Quotes from Nwora and Gee*

“He demonstrated increased eye contact with his teacher/music leader, caregivers (smiling and waving) and improved interaction with peers.”  (p.33) 

 

“Results of the Sensory Profile section summary also indicate marked improvements in function from pre- to post-intervention” (p.34)

 

With my company, Advanced Brain Technologies being the developer of The Listening Program® I am naturally very happy with the findings of this case study. Larger scale studies need to be conducted in order to help us bring this important intervention to the countless children on the autism spectrum that can truly benefit. This paper takes us one step closer.  

 

To view the abstract or to download the full article please visit http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122205224/abstract  

 

* Amy J Nwora, Bryan M Gee (2009). A case study of a five-year-old child with pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified using sound based interventions. Occupational Therapy International,16 (1). 25-43.