What is The Listening Program?

The Listening Program is a sound-based listening intervention created by Advanced Brain Technologies, LLC. Though neither created nor overseen by The HANDLE® Institute, a number of HANDLE providers recommend The Listening Program in tandem with HANDLE.

Like many other sound-based listening interventions, The Listening Program is based on the principle of neuroplasticity.

The Listening Program is among the most gentle of the sound-based listening interventions, making it generally compatible with HANDLE®’s philosophy of Gentle Enhancement®. The Listening Program also works nicely with HANDLE’s use of at-home, parent- or peer-monitored neurodevelopmental training.

For more information on neuroplasticity, Gentle Enhancement, or Dr. Alfred Tomatis, whose work The Listening Program is based upon, click the “window shades” below:

What is “Neuroplasticity”?

“Neuroplasticity” refers to an understanding that the brain changes in response to specific stimuli. Specifically, neurons grow in response to stimuli that are done often (frequency), are sufficient to require attention but not to overwhelm (intensity), are done consistently (regularity), last only so long as holds attention (duration), are purposeful (intentional, goal-directed), and/or are surprising (novel).

The Listening Program is designed to leverage all of these aspects, in order to harness the power of neuroplasticity. The Listening Program features special, computer-processed music, which triggers attention to bursts of particular frequencies. Since not all listening is purposeful, the special processing applied to the music ensures sufficient novelty to elicit attention to particular frequencies and, over time, comfort with them. This occurs even during activities like sketching, bird watching, or looking at picture books, which don’t directly compete with listening. For optimum success, however, background distractions like TV and internal distractions like chewing gum are usually disallowed.

Generally, The Listening Program is done twice daily. When The Listening Program is done consistently, it can make an important contribution to improved auditory processing.

What is “Gentle Enhancement”?

One feature that sets The Listening Program apart from other sound-based listening interventions is its use of gradual transitions from “normal” music that hasn’t been specially processed through a computer, to “processed” music, then back again to “normal” music—each and every session—to effectively modulate intensity. These gradual transitions make listening easier and more pleasant.

When people are ready for a sound-based listening intervention (especially if their other sensory needs are being addressed through HANDLE), they generally have little difficulty listening to “normal” music. Listening to music in which high-spectrum sound has been amplified and low-spectrum sound has been extremely dampened, however, can be irritating—and a bit disconcerting—even for people without auditory processing difficulties. Thus, having a program gently shepherd a listener into listening to processed music… and then back again before a session is over… is a tremendous help toward ensuring Gentle Enhancement—the HANDLE principle of stopping an activity when a person's nervous system has been stressed.

Who was Dr. Alfred Tomatis?

Like many other sound-based listening interventions, The Listening Program is based on the work of Dr. Alfred Tomatis, the first to recognize: The voice can only produce what the ear has been able to hear. Although Tomatis held controversial theories about the contribution of mothers to their children's autism—theories with scant evidence for them and much evidence against them—Tomatis was also a pioneer in modifying sound frequencies to effect changes in sound perception, and he was among the first scientists to recognize the extensive role of the cochlear-vestibular nerve in (a) regulating human perception of sound frequencies and inertia and (b) allowing for human perception of acoustics and balance. These perceptions work in tandem with tactile perception, muscle tone, and vision to effect good visual-spatial integration.

If you, your spouse, or your child struggles with auditory hypersensitivities or auditory processing issues, you may find these issues abating as you do HANDLE. Auditory issues often diminish as vestibular and digestive functions improve. If you or your child has auditory issues that have not lessened greatly by your third or fourth HANDLE Program Review, however, feel free to ask about The Listening Program, to further support your auditory processing as you continue HANDLE.