Do you have a child with learning disabilities? Autism? Sensory Integration issues? Auditory Processing? Attention Deficit Disorder? Etc.?
In chapter eight of my book, Good Music Brighter Children I talk about how music can be a powerful catalyst for kids who suffer from a variety of learning disabilities.
As mentioned in other blogs, all learning disabilities begin with auditory processing. This means that the child can hear fine, but have difficulty processing what he/she hears. In order to help learning disabilities, you need to find something that strengthens the auditory cortex, and that something is music.
Today I want to introduce you to an educational therapist who uses acoustically modified music as one therapy to help learning-disabled children. Her name: Alene Villaneda. Her company: Integrated Learning Strategies.
Alene Villaneda, an educational therapist from Utah, uses amazing sound therapy programs called Integrated Listening Systems (iLs) and Advanced Brain Technologies (ABT) for her students. Since 1994 her company, Integrated Learning Strategies, has worked with children who have a variety of learning disabilities including: ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, sensory processing disorders, speech and language issues, and autism.
Specifically speaking, she helps children who suffer from issues relating to auditory processing (both receptive and expressive language), vestibular issues (the foundational system for visual and auditory), gross and fine motor problems, and memory and concentration, as well as anyone who wants to have better listening skills.
The iLs and ABT programs use filtered classical music; particularly the music of Mozart while the children are concurrently doing specific movements and engaging in visual stimulation. This network of sensory systems being simultaneously stimulated—auditory, visual, vestibular, motor, and even emotional control produces amazing results.
A nine-year-old girl came to Villaneda with severe comprehension and auditory processing problems, as well as attention issues. She also wore very thick glasses. Normally, it would have taken thirty months to fully address these problems, but by combining the iLs program with movement, the young girl experienced a remarkable turnaround in just eighteen months. She no longer has to repeatedly ask her teacher for clarification of what is said in class (auditory issues), she understands what she reads (auditory and comprehension), her attention span has drastically improved (vestibular/auditory), and even her vision has improved to where her glasses have needed adjustments.
Villaneda began working with an autistic boy when he was seven years old. Although he suffered from expressive language issues, he did understand what people said to him. At the time, he was in a special classroom at school and had difficulty with stemming—a term used to describe constant wiggling and shaking. Villaneda started him on the iLs program, and within six short months he was talking and reading. Today, he is now in a mainstream classroom. Although he is receiving additional intervention, his parents described his change as “an awakening.”
When five-year-old Monica came to Villaneda, she could not sit still and could not bounce a ball or catch or throw a beanbag. She was unable to focus on an object, could not coordinate her eyes, and never noticed anything around her. Monica appeared normal but would have severe temper tantrums and extreme bouts of anger. Additionally, she did not show any affection toward her parents or siblings. Within a few short months of being on the iLs program, Monica was transformed: she became grounded, she could throw and catch a beanbag, she became very observant of everything around her, she asked questions, and, best of all, she became a very affectionate child.