Autism and Auditory Hypersensitivity: Causes and Treatment

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A recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicates that autism spectrum disorder prevalence has significantly increased to over 2% of all children in the United States, with an estimated 1 in 28 boys currently with an autism diagnosis.

Professionals working with children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may find that these children are overly sensitive to sounds. These professionals and parents are often concerned as to why children may have auditory hypersensitivities.

The journal Autism Research and Treatment recently published a peer reviewed article which discusses the neural mechanisms identified underlying hypersensitive hearing in people. I wrote this article with Dr. Jay R. Lucker of Howard University. Our article focuses on brain research to support the idea of the non-classical auditory pathways being involved in connecting the auditory system with the emotional system of the brain. We also discuss brain mechanisms believed to be involved in auditory hypersensitivity, and treatments for hypersensitive hearing.

This Wednesday, February 3rd at 8 pm Eastern, Dr. Jay R. Lucker will join me on The Listening Program Radio to discuss the topic of Autism and Auditory Hypersensitivity, the causes, treatment, and hope for those suffering from sound sensitivities.

Register here for this free program and to ask us a question we can answer live. You’ll receive an email with the call-in number and a web link to listen online 3 hours before the show.

Auditory Hypersensitivity and Autism

Sound is everywhere, it’s as much a part of our lives as the air we breathe and the food we eat. Yet, many people become stressed or uncomfortable with sounds in their own home, school, work, and public places, and aren’t even aware of it.The cause, NOISE!

Negative sound exposure has a scientifically proven impact on health, sleep, attention, learning, communication, listening, hearing, stress and more. A 2011 report from the World Health Organization and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre Burden of Disease From Environmental Noise states that “noise like this is second only to air pollution as an environmental cause of ill health.” There is no question noise is a major health concern, something my co-author Don Campbell and me wrote about extensively in our book Healing at the Speed of Sound®.  Each of us is impacted by noise, some more than others. But millions with autism spectrum disorders, sensory processing disorders and brain injury are not only impacted by noise, but often develop a negative emotional response to sound.

Dr. Jay Lucker, associate professor in the Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders at Howard University in Washington, DC recently co-authored an article with me for Autism Science Digest which explores sound sensitivities in a growing population of children and adults with autism that are known to commonly have hypersensitivities to sound. The article titled “Auditory Hypersensitivity and Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Emotional Response” is in the current issue 04, which is available at Barnes and Noble through July.

Article Abstract- Many children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder are described as having auditory hypersensitivities. This paper describes auditory hypersensitivities, the systems involved in hypersensitive hearing, methods for evaluating auditory hypersensitivity in children, and possible treatments. Auditory hypersensitivity involves the non-classical auditory system and is an emotional response to sound rather than an auditory response. Children described as being hypersensitive to sound have negative emotional reactions to sounds and situations in which the sounds are present. It is possible to desensitize these negative emotional reactions and reprogram the emotional memory system so that children are no longer frightened by sounds.

My company Advanced Brain Technologies today announced the launch of TLP Spectrum™; a new auditory program for at home use, to improve sound brain fitness and reduce sensory sensitivities in children and adults who are or who may become hypersensitive to sounds. This program is a gentle way to desensitize emotional reactions to sound.

TLP Spectrum consists of evidence-based instrumental music which contains proprietary sound technologies to exercise the brain, and filter out unwanted sounds, while keeping the listener relaxed during fifteen-minute listening sessions with headphones. The program is ideal for those most susceptible to sound sensitivity; including children and adults with autism spectrum disorders, sensory processing disorders, brain injury and developmental delays, as well as typically developing toddlers (my 2 year old son is on the program), preschoolers, and the elderly.

I’ll be presenting this article and introducing TLP Spectrum at the Autism One/ Generation Rescue Conference 2012 in Chicago next month. Hope to see you there!

Annoying Sounds Spark Major Rage

A couple days ago I posted an article Ouch That Hurts about an auditory condition called misophonia in which annoying sounds can cause major rage. This morning The Today Show did a segment on this topic that you can view here.

Most of the research into the cause of this and related disorders appears to be focused on auditory mechanisms.  However, Advanced Brain Technologies Scientific Advisory Board Member and audiologist Dr. Jay Lucker of Howard University has been researching strong behavioral reactions to sound in children and suggests it is the emotional reactions must be dealt with. This was his response to a question we posed on the Healing at the Speed of Sound Facebook page.

“I am in the process of revising a manuscript for publication on loud and annoying sounds in children. Findings revealed that this is NOT an auditory based problem in the overwhelming number of children seen in this study. The major problem is our negative emotional reactions to loud and annoying sounds. We must deal with the emotional reactions more so than the auditory based issues for most of our children with sound tolerance problems.”

Ouch! Do You Ever Find Sounds Annoying or Uncomfortable? What Are They? Post your response here.

ABT Symposium 2010

In the summers of 2004-2008 we ran the Advanced Brain Technologies (ABT) International Conference in the beautiful settings of The Canyons Resort in Park City, and Zermatt Resort in Midway, Utah. ABT providers, customers, professionals, parents and others would travel from the world over for 3 days of lectures, workshops, music, networking, food and friendship.  All of us united through a shared interest in helping people attain all they can in life by improving their brain health and performance.

When the global financial crisis hit we made the difficult decision to discontinue the conference until the economic recovery. And still we wait… While the right decision, we and those accustomed to our annual event have been feeling an immense void.  So, rather than put on the BIG EVENT, we decided to organize 1 day of great presentations, music, and networking at our first ever East Coast Symposium in New Jersey this October.

The ABT Symposium 2010 is taking place at Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey on October 24, 2010.

New research on Advanced Brain Technologies neurosoftware and neuromusic programs will be presented. Learn about the Lucker model of auditory processing and his theory about the effects of The Listening Program® (TLP). Discover Learning Ears, Ear-Voice training that works with TLP to improve learning, language and communication abilities. Hear about a TLP brain injury protocol being trialed at a pediatric rehabilitation hospital.Listen to diverse case presentations from practicing ABT providers. Experience live music performances which will demonstrate the effects of live music performance on group dynamics. Engage in a discussion about activity recommendations for listeners. And, Network with other therapeutic and educational professionals.

The focus of this highly anticipated symposium will be new information on research, treatment strategies, and programs for diverse client populations ranging from neurotypical to brain injured.

We have a great line up of speakers including Dr. Jay Lucker from Howard University speaking on auditory processing , music from world renowned artist Nacho Arimany, and much more… Early bird discounts are available for professionals through September 15th, and we have special pricing for students and parents. For those who may be interested in training as ABT Certified Providers of The Listening Program®, you can join us at the same location on the 22nd and 23rd of October for our certification course. Please join us! To register or for more information including a list of speakers, special hotel rates, etc.  please visit ABT Symposium 2010.