Friday, January 16, 2009

Jam-packed therapy

Here is a story about using Interactive Metronome (IM) and Therapeutic Listening (TL) simultaneously. AND, mom and dad put on the headphones, too.

"Gary" is a very sweet 12 year old who suffered severe deprivation in early life. His parents are now able to provide him with a safe, loving environment, but he still has tons of stuff to work through (sensory seeking, emotional neediness, act-out behaviors, plus some motor planning problems), and it is hard on the entire family.

He was referred to me for Interactive Metronome (IM), and that made sense as an initial approach. Four to six weeks of IM can provide breakthroughs in a range of body-brain areas and make therapy go faster. However, it turns out that Gary is bullying other kids at school and has act-out behaviors at home, too. He needed some self-regulation. IM provides that, but it takes a few weeks to kick in. In the meantime, it can ramp-up personal intensity. In the end, that is a positive effect, but I was worried that it might increase the outbursts at school and home in the short term.

And so I thought of Therapeutic Listening or Samonas. Sound therapy programs focus first on self-regulation. But they too, have a drawback. They work more slowly and a person can go through weeks of emotional passivity while the brain reorganizes. The other side of a bully is an insecure human being. I didn't want Gary to flip-flop. I also wanted to make faster progress. With sound therapy, Gary might invest several months before getting to the heart of many issues.

In the end, Gary's family opted to do both therapies simultaneously. And so began some jam-packed therapy sessions in which Gary would independently do his IM program while mom, dad and I discussed strategies for home and in the community. During Gary's breaks, he would play on the sensory equipment, try out sound therapy disks or join us for some discussions about behavior. Within a couple of weeks, mom and dad asked if they might benefit from listening to the sound therapy CDs, too. Why, yes. Of course. It had been a long road for them, as well as for Gary, and the music would help to remove some of the built up trauma that they had undergone.

Last week, Gary finished his IM program. He will continue to listen to Therapeutic Listening and Samonas CDs for another 6-10 weeks, depending. His dad gave me an update. "The changes are subtle, but they are deep." He was very pleased. He was seeing cooperation and motivation to change where there was none before. Parents sometimes miss these changes in their children. But they are profound and grow with time.

Gary told me that everything in his life felt a little easier. I measured Gary's performance on motor-skills tasks, and he gained 18-24 months in fine motor skills and upper body movement and coordination. The results for cognitive and sensory gains are not in yet.

Gary's parents seem to have relaxed several magnitudes since I first met them. In early sessions, they spoke through clenched teeth. Now there are smiles.

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