Down Syndrome and Sound Therapy
Children with Down Syndrome need supportive measures if they are to reach their full cognitive potential. A delay in the comprehension of language results in a delay in speaking.
The impairment of language abilities delays learning in all areas and makes the task of education and socialisation more difficult. This results in behaviour problems which could be avoided if the language abilities were improved.
Children with Down Syndrome are highly prone to ear infections and wax impaction, due to a depressed immune system, a small Eustachian tube and narrow external ear canal.1 Repeated chronic middle ear infections result in fibrous adhesions which limit the movement of the ossicles, causing progressive hearing loss.
60-80% of children with Down Syndrome have a hearing impairment2. The voice can only produce what the ear can hear, which means that good hearing is a vital component of being able to speak clearly and intelligibly. It is very important for Down Syndrome children to have their hearing treated in the early years to assist with language development.
More information about supporting children with Down Syndrome can be found in the book "Why Aren't I Learning?" by Rafaele Joudry.
It is a great handbook for parents and teachers alike with drug-free treatments you can use at home or in the classroom.
Photo courtesy of Vanellus Foto.
How Sound Therapy can help Down Syndrome children
The greatest area of difficulty in learning is in auditory vocal processing. Children with Down Syndrome often have difficulty learning to manipulate the speech system, coordinating the tongue, lips, jaw and palate. Because they face much greater obstacles in producing speech sounds, it is vital that they receive assistance with their hearing to aid their speech as well.
Sound Therapy is a home based program used during daily activities on a portable player which stimulates the entire auditory system. Children listen through earphones to specially filtered classical music, stories and poems which have been selected for their educational value. The filtering process, using a specialist device designed by Dr Tomatis (called the "Electronic Ear"), adds tonal changes and extra high frequency sounds to enhance the stimulation to the ear and brain.
Regular use of Sound Therapy from an early age is a safe, non-invasive way to stimulate the middle ear apparatus and reduce infections and blockages. The protection and enhancement of hearing that may be achieved through Sound Therapy could have significant results for all areas of development of children with Down Syndrome.
As Sound Therapy restores hearing in the full range of frequencies, a greater range of tonality is available to the voice. This is very important for producing intelligible speech.
Improved hearing leads to a greater interest in the environment and what is happening, more liveliness, and more willingness to learn.
Language comprehension improves significantly, and because the links between learning language and learning about the world are direct, the child's education and performance in all areas will be enhanced.
Using Sound Therapy with Down's Syndrome children
The Sound Therapy International programs come pre-loaded on a tiny player with headphones suitable for different ages. Using the program is simply a matter of putting the headphones on, switching on the player, and adjusting the volume up to a comfortable level. The volume should be kept low, so that it is possible to have a conversation while it is playing.
For the first few months of listening, children should listen to Sound Therapy every day for a period of 30 to 60 minutes or longer if desired. If your child wishes to listen for several hours at a time it will do no harm. The auditory stimulation provided by Sound Therapy has a re-charging effect on the brain and children with Down Syndrome generally respond with enthusiasm. It can be used as desired thereafter.
It has been helpful for children with Down Syndrome to listen regularly to Sound Therapy on a long term or permanent basis to protect the ear against its tendency to become easily blocked and to stimulate the full range of hearing.
Parents should ensure that their children's ears are checked regularly and that they receive treatment for ear infections or wax impaction. In some cases, the recurrence of these problems will decrease with the use of Sound Therapy. The movement and exercise produced in the ear by Sound Therapy often results in a spontaneous expulsion of fluid from the ear and blockages may not recur.
It is important to continue language education through the life of someone with Down syndrome. This ongoing learning process may be greatly enhanced for people of any age by listening to Sound Therapy.
Which Sound Therapy International Program should I use?
The Family Program is the best option for Down syndrome, with the widest range of frequencies for stimulation plus the "Let's Recite' album for children to speak along with to improve their speech. It will give the most variety for ongoing use, and parents can also make use of the Listening Foundation program to de-stress.
Children can listen to Sound Therapy at home, at school, or even while sleeping.
- Pueschel, Siegfried M. March 1992. I. Published on The Arc website (no longer available online)
Quoted in Moss, K. "Hearing and Vision Loss Associated with Down Syndrome", TSBVI Deafblind Outreach
- Cohen, WI. (1996). "Health care guidelines for individuals with Down syndrome". Down Syndrome Quarterly, Volume 1, Number 2, June, 1996.