Results of Pilot Study Published in Journal Music and Medicine Reveal The Listening Program Helps Children With Down Syndrome Improve Speech Skills

Advanced Brain Technologies today announced results demonstrating that a modified music program followed for ten weeks, improved speech skills in children with Down syndrome. The results of the study, conducted in Nottingham, United Kingdom, were published Monday, in an early online before print version of the article scheduled to appear in the journal Music and Medicine(i).

It is well documented that children with Down syndrome have difficulty with hearing, auditory processing and language development. This pilot study was undertaken to trial tests and questionnaires for suitability for use with the children, to determine if any benefit could be established from the use of The Listening Program® as a prelude to a more formal study. The Listening Program was developed by Advanced Brain Technologies (ABT) as a modified music method to improve auditory processing, self regulation and brain performance.

Nine children between the ages of 5 and 12 years took part, acting as their own controls. They used The Listening Program over a 10-week period. Each child listened to acoustically modified music, through headphones, for two 15-minute sessions, 5 days a week, for 10 weeks. A battery of tests recommended by specialists in speech and language and human communication, were performed before and after intervention. In addition, questionnaires were completed at the end by parents and teachers involved.

Although the children only completed half the recommended twenty week protocol due to time constraints, all experienced positive changes in speech and listening. Some made improvements in a number of additional areas. These positive findings are consistent with previous research studies using The Listening Program with children with learning difficulties, auditory processing disorder, and autism; among other issues.  

“There is a great need to have a cost-effective, non-invasive approach to improving speech and language skills in people with Down syndrome,” said Alex Doman, founder and CEO of Advanced Brain Technologies.  “While further study into the impact of The Listening Program is required for this purpose, the pilot study demonstrated this approach could be a very useful tool in improving communication in children with Down syndrome”.

Down syndrome is a genetic condition that causes delays in physical and intellectual development. It is the most frequently occurring chromosomal disorder, present in one of every 800 live births.  

(i)  Jeyes, G., Newton,C. Evaluation of The Listening Program in Assessing Auditory Processing and Speech Skills in Children with Down Syndrome. Music and Medicine August 2, 2010 doi: 10.1177/ 1943862110371809

Music Program Helps Children with Down Syndrome

Hearing and speech are common challenges for children with Down Syndrome or Trisomy 21.  Susceptible to chronic ear fluid and infections, auditory development is a crucial area of  focus when taking a comprehensive approach to helping these children reach their innate potential.

If hearing is impacted, so is  listening, auditory processing,  receptive and expressive language, and cognitive function. One broken link in the chain creates a domino effect in terms of  development of learning, behavior and communication.

Music listening therapy is a viable intervention for children with Down Syndrome. We have seen wide and varied success with The Listening Program® over the years, with the greatest success when the music is provided with a specialized audio system we developed called the ABT Bone Conduction Audio System™  that connects to an iPod or portable CD player and delivers the music simultaneously through air conduction and subtle vibrations through bone conduction. This integrated approach delivers a more reliable auditory signal to the brain helping to train it to discriminate sound and support other functions of the autonomic and central nervous systems.

A study was conducted by Gwyneth Jeyes and Caroline Newton in the UK in which a group of kids with Down Syndrome completed just half of the recommended minimum 50 hour protocol of The Listening Program® which is spread over the course of several months, with daily listening sessions of 15 or 30 minutes. These kids ages 5 to 12 yrs listened for just 25 hours and without the added bone conduction training. Even at this level of intervention all but one of the nine children showed improvements in listening, speech and language skills based on parent surveys. Other improvements were also seen in several of the children.

These results were presented in a Poster Session at the 1oth World Down Syndrome Congress in Dublin back in August. While the study is small, the outcomes are consistent with reports from Speech and Language Pathologists and other practitioners using The Listening Program® with their clients with this chromosomal anomaly.  I am hopeful that we will see interest in see a larger, controlled study.

Read or download the poster.