Healthy Sound Practices Podcast

alexdoman_michaelseng_podcast

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Michael Seng on the Oneness Approach podcast. During our conversation, I explained the harmful effects of noise pollution and how we can use sound to heal, reduce stress, anxiety, the effects of ASD and other health problems.

Listen in by following this link  http://www.onenessapproach.com/podcasts/alex-doman/ to learn what healthy sound practices you should incorporate into your daily routine to reduce stress, increase focus and improve your listening skills.

 

Should we seek silence?

Andre's Bogota

Many of us crave relief from the cacophony of our often noisy world. I’m one, generally a quiet seeker, searching for solace when my surroundings get too loud, but not always… When I’m in a noisy environment, and enjoying myself, I seem to have an increased tolerance to the din of amplified sound levels. Mood and emotion play a large roll in our ability to remain comfortable in the presence of loud sounds.

Just over a week ago I was in a unique and well known restaurant in Bogotá named Andrés. This place is nearly indescribable; a visual feast, crowded with well over two thousand locals and tourists laughing, eating, drinking, and dancing into the early morning hours to the latest Latin Reggae rhythms.

This is an environment that would normally overwhelm me; my decibel meter app was registering over 100 dB! But on this particular night, I was having such a great time with new friends, being immersed in the local culture, that the amplified sound levels energized me and elevated my mood. Perhaps the local sugarcane derived, anise-flavored spirit Aguardiente “firewater” provided some hearing protection along with mood enhancement? If I didn’t enjoy my company, the music, or the environment, this multi-sensorial combination of steakhouse and rave could just as easily have been overwhelming, but I was having a great time!

What got me thinking about this is an article by David Hendy from the BBC the dark side of silence wherein Hendy argues convincingly I may add, that the quest for silence, relief from the noise in our lives can come with a price.

Had I sought quiet on this particular evening, I would have missed one of the most fun and memorable travel experiences in recent memory. Consider this… Are there times we should embrace loud sounds, just as we do other things that at times may seem intolerable?

Sound’s Dual Personality

Sound's Dual Personality

Dual personalities, when it comes to people, we understand the connotation. But did you know that sound also has a dual personality? One harming, and the other healing…

This is the premise of the feature article in the Winter 2013 issue of Hearing Health Magazine from the Hearing Health Foundation. Journalist Elizabeth Stump interviewed me, and my friend, neuroscientist and author of The Universal Sense, Seth Horowitz, for an exploration into the fascinating world of sound. You can read it starting on page 26 of the online edition here. You can also find my interview on the importance of respecting sound on pages 30-31.

Please share your comments here, or on Facebook.

Quieter TV Commercials

mute button

Finally, you can take your finger off the Mute button! No longer will we need to reach for the remote to protect ourselves from the aural assault that comes from loud TV commercials.

On December 13th the “CALM Act”, (Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation) was put in force requiring TV broadcasters to guarantee that commercials air at a volume no louder than the programs in which they appear. HURRAY!

How nice it will be not to be blown out of our seats by the latest, greatest, wiz bang widget ever to be sold on television for a limited time!  I for one am thankful to see meaningful legislation being passed that will make a positive impact on reducing the toxic noise in our lives.  How about you?

For an amusing list of other noise mitigation bills under consideration, check out this post from Linda Holmes at NPR.

We’re Going Green!

Green

We’re Going Green! It seems I see this statement everywhere I go.  It has become ubiquitous in a world where we’ve come to realize the fragile balance of meeting the energy demands of a growing population, while attempting to preserve our natural resources. I believe in the importance of energy conservation, am aware of my carbon imprint, recycle, and teach my children to be mindful of energy use. However, I think there are instances where energy conservation is taken too far. More on this later.

On Tuesday evening I flew to Las Vegas to visit a friend and colleague. His name is Julian Treasure. Julian was speaking about sound at a conference attended by audiologists, auditory research scientists, and other interested professionals. The subject of his talk was sound, noise and listening in the modern world. A topic I spend a great deal of time on myself. We were at a lovely resort with a minimalist architectural design. Julian and I spent hours discussing our mutual interests, namely listening and sound. In fact, if you’d would like to hear a short portion of our conversation, you can listen to it here on audioboo.


A day spent discussing sound really sets your attention to it. Which is why I am writing this post about a trend that is an increasing concern of mine.

In the elegant restrooms of this lovely hotel are hand dryers. Not the industrial white dryers we are accustomed to seeing on the walls of gas station bathrooms, but sleek European dryers that greatly appeal to my sense of visual aesthetics. You’ve likely seen them. They look like something straight out of Star Trek. You stick your hands inside and whoosh they’re dry! I think this is great, with one exception. THEY ARE LOUD! How loud? Well… to find out I pulled out my iPhone, launched a decibel meter app and measured. The result? Over 90dB at ear level! That is too loud, especially given that safe sound levels are below 75 decibels.

This level of sound is at minimum annoying, and for some extremely painful. I cannot imagine subjecting my nearing three year old son to one of these. Thinking about the many people we serve with hyperacousis (overly sensitive hearing), I cannot imagine what the experience would be for them. You might say, just use the towels if you don’t like the noise. And that would be a great solution. But this hotel, like so many public places, have removed towels from restrooms. You have no option to these noise machines, other than drying your hands on your clothes or shaking them dry.

As you see in the photo, the justification for these hand dryers is the preservation of our natural resources. OK, I get that. But how much energy does it take to force hot air at such an intensity that my hands are dry in five seconds flat and it makes my ears ring? My ears are a precious natural resource!

I’m not alone in my concern. When I posted this picture on Facebook Tuesday evening it got quite a response.

Do you agree this is a problem? Please share your comments.

Turn it Down! Talking Noise and Tweens

TURN IT DOWN! Sound familiar? This is a phase nearly every parent of a tween or teen will undoubtedly find themselves shouting over the din of whatever music is blasting out of their kid’s headphones.

As our sons and daughters head back to school its a great time to talk to them about safe listening habits. In Healing at the Speed of Sound® Don Campbell and I write extensively about the dangers of noise exposure, especially for our children, who often spend countless hours listening to music through ear-buds. Take a look at the Noisy Planet website to learn why you need to worry about noise and how to start a conversation about Noise Induced Hearing Loss with your children sooner than later.

From Noisy Planet— We are surrounded by noises, many of which have the potential to cause hearing loss. This also is true of kids, who take part in a variety of activities that put their hearing at risk. Any loss of hearing by children can have lifelong implications for learning, social relationships, and job opportunities.

In response, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) has launched It’s a Noisy Planet. Protect Their Hearing. The Noisy Planet campaign is NIDCD’s new public education effort aimed at preventing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) among children ages 8 to 12, or “tweens.” This age range presents a window of opportunity to teach children about the causes and prevention of NIHL while they are developing their own attitudes and habits related to their health, including their hearing health.

Adapted from the It’s a Noisy Planet. Protect Their Hearing campaign (http://www.noisyplanet.nidcd.nih.gov), a program of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), National Institutes of Health.”

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!