Many children with learning difficulties also experience problems with processing sound and can appear to be slightly deaf, to the extent that parents and teachers find themselves continually repeating requests and directions. Instructions are only partially carried out, information is only partially learned or retained, academic skills and speech and language can suffer badly. Parents often have their child’s hearing tested, suspecting some kind of physical problem and are surprised with a normal test result, leaving a question mark in terms of the child’s listening skills. If the child’s hearing is found to be normal, what could be the cause of these difficulties? One reason may be that the child experiences problems with the way sounds, words and language are interpreted and stored in the brain.
Language is made up of tiny particles of sound called formants, which go to make up the shortest part of a word, a phoneme. If the audio processing system in the brain is not working efficiently, there may be a delay in processing the sounds that make up a group of words or a sentence. This delay makes it difficult for a child to take in and make sense of the information it receives.
Ear dominance is also an important factor. In more than 90% of people, processing should take place primarily in the left hemisphere, necessitating right ear dominance. Many children with developmental delay lack any dominance or are 'left eared', and will be forced to use areas of the brain not appropriate to speech and language. This in turn will affect how information is stored and retained within the brain. If a child also has retained primitive reflexes, these problems will be accentuated, further increasing the brain’s challenge to process sound accurately.
A comprehensive audiogram will test not just the overall volume that a person hears, but a range of decibel levels across a spectrum of different frequencies from 250-8000Hertz. The audiogram will reveal any oversensitive areas or ‘dropouts’ (these will create listening problems), and will also indicate any tendency to be ‘left-eared’ or have a lack of ear dominance.
The Johansen Sound Therapy uses certain frequencies and sound to dampen or stimulate the problem areas according to the result of the audiogram. This system is unique in being the only sound therapy to customise the treatment to the individual child or adult in question.
The programme consists of listening to a series of specially recorded gentle music for about 10-15 minutes daily, a course of treatment will last approximately 6 months.
The result is that the brain begins to retain accurate speech and language information, and is able to organize and store it in a more effective way. This enables the child to hear and process sounds more easily, making listening, understanding and learning more accessible.