Students with Dyslexia often present a complex picture especially when Dyslexia co-occurs with other learning difficulties such as ADHD and Developmental delays.
Dyslexia is NOT a sign of poor intelligence. In fact students with Dyslexia often have a very high IQ but this doesn’t stop them feeling “dumb or stupid. The emotional consequences of frustration, anxiety, poor self-esteem, low motivation, tantrums often occur because there are “gaps” in the individual’s developmental sequence. .
At Active Listening we look into the underlying causes of Dyslexia and the developmental skills required before optimal, cognitive learning can occur. The learning triangle is a small section taken from the Learning Pyramid which identifies the major senses that need to work together to improve learning.
Currently the school hearing and vision assessments are very limited and often miss vital information that children need to learn. Just because your child passes these assessments does NOT mean their hearing and vision is functioning well enough for learning.
Attention is the capacity to select and maintain awareness of an exterior event or a thought. It also corresponds to "being on high alert' during waking hours, which allows the nervous system to receive any form of incoming information rather than being able to select what to pay attention to. When attention is dysfunctional it impacts many cognitive functions and is not only very costly in an academic sense, but is also a source of difficulty and even considerable suffering for a child in a school setting or any learning environment.
Children with ADHD or ADD often have audio-processing difficulties. For some children they “hear too much” and can become overwhelmed easily. This often indicates the air and bone conduction are not working together and the person is unable to regulate what sounds they need to pay attention to and which ones they do not. When the bone conduction is very sensitive the child is likely to have poor behavioural control, poor concentration, poor organisation and poor social skills. Often there is also a vestibular link – those who constantly seek stimulation with fast movements such as swinging, running, spinning (hypo-sensitivity) and those who avoid stimulation and prefer to stay still or move slowly –(hypersensitivity).
Listening programmes work on reducing the bone conduction sensitivity and help the ear muscles regulate auditory information, thereby improving concentration, motor skills, social skills and behaviour.
Audio-processing difficulties are often difficult to recognize because they change very quickly. Audio-processing difficulties are very common among those with learning difficulties and rarely picked up in school hearing checks. Just because a child passes a hearing check does not mean they can hear every frequency in both ears or through both bone and air conduction at the same time. Nor does it show if a child needs instructions at a high volume before they can hear them or that all the vowel sounds (a, ae, ea, u, etc) sound the same to them.
Some symptoms of audio-processing difficulties in children include:
A listening test will show which areas of audio-processing abilities are not working as they should and listening programmes can be tailored to adjust HOW a child listens and processes auditory information.
Low or tense muscle tone in one area (such as the ear) are often a sign that other muscles are also affected. The small muscles in the inner ear should work together to regulate sound and the different frequencies of sound play different roles throughout the body. Planning movement should be automatic and smooth but when there is hesitancy there is often a problem in the cerebellum or brain stem.
Our listening programmes work through both air and bone conduction at the same time as the vestibular system. The action of the Tomatis® listening programmes work on the vestibule, allowing the body to regain vertical posture by repositioning the skeleton. Indeed, under the sustained effect of listening sessions, the consistency of the messages sent to the brain via the vestibule of both the right and left ears is synchronized. As a result, motor responses are noticeably more coordinated, and become more fluid and better organized. This is why the Tomatis® Method has beneficial effects on motor disorders. Moreover, the vestibule plays a fundamental role in integrating the rhythms of both music and language due to its intricate network of connections to the brain.
Speech development involves many different muscles and the ability to understand clearly audio information. Ear infections and frequent colds damage the audio-vocal connections and under-developed spoken language often leads to other learning difficulties and poor social skills. The sound of our voice is mainly transmitted to the ear by the vibration of the bones of our skull, a process called bone conduction.
Alternatively, when sound waves in the air enter our ears, this is called air conduction. The sound is then analyzed by the brain, which directs a response with the voice. There are constant exchanges of information happening between the ears, the brain, and the voice.
This auditory feedback loop is sometimes disrupted—usually because of cognitive or emotional reasons—leading to a breakdown in listening, and eventually in verbalizations as well. This breakdown can impact the rhythm, tone, or intensity of our vocal productions.
By improving the relationship between the ear, brain, and voice, the Tomatis® Method also helps individuals with language skills. An important foundation for language learning is phonological awareness. Phonological awareness is our ability to recognize and manipulate the sounds used in language. The sounds of language include a complex system of pronunciation, rate, rhythm, and tone. For some, mastering such aspects of language is challenging and sometimes occurs at a slower rate than their peers.
Instruction of phonological awareness is essential to language learning and there’s a way to make this process more efficient. By training the brain through air and bone conduction, the Tomatis® Method promotes enhanced perception of the fundamental sounds of language, which solidifies the foundation for further language learning. More information on the ears and learning is available in the additional information section.
Learning and behavioural difficulties frequently stem from developmental issues or delays in the early years. When the baby is born they use unconscious reflex actions to survive, BUT the baby starts learning and developing its brain when it consciously starts moving its body. Many of the foundational skills (see learning pyramid) required before academic learning are learnt through sequenced developmental movements which build upon each other, rolling, crawling, walking etc. When this developmental sequence is not ideal the foundations for learning are weakened. Adding academic learning to a weak foundation puts the foundation under pressure and results in anxiety, behavioural and learning difficulties.
Movement programmes stimulate and integrate the vestibular, proprioception, tactile and visual systems all at once. They are designed to give the brain the opportunity to “rewire” the neural pathways and strengthen the foundations so academic learning becomes easier.
The learning pyramid shows the many foundational skills that children need before academic learning. These early skills should develop naturally and in sequence to enable the body and the brain to work together.
Primitive reflexes are survival mechanisms which begin developing in utero and should serve their purpose and then be placed into “hibernation”. Postural reflexes should naturally develop after primitive reflexes and are used to support the body to complete movements easily and automatically.
Reflexes that are retained can cause blockages to learning and make academic learning much harder than it should be.
The Spinal Galant reflex is an example that can have a negative impact on learning. This reflex should be used when the baby is born naturally. It is the final push when the baby is expelled. However, if the baby needs assistance to be born such as caesarean section, forceps or suction cap the reflex is often retained.
The effects of a retained Spinal Galant reflex can include:
Usually if only one or two reflexes are retained they do not cause a problem. However, if there are several reflexes learning is often negatively impacted.
More information on reflexes is available in the additional information section. After a detailed questionnaire and an assessment of movement skills a developmental sequenced programme can be developed to help your child put these reflexes into “hibernation” and develop greater confidence and improve their self-esteem.
Movement programmes will also work on sensory integration, vestibular system, posture, motor planning, body schema, hand / eye co-ordination, the development of bi-lateral integration and ocular motor control. For greater effectiveness it will be necessary to complete specific exercises every day at home as it takes 6 weeks of repetition for new neurons to grow and automaticity to occur.
One to one tutoring is available at the Active Listening centre or online. Tutoring programmes will be discussed on an individual basis as every child will need different things and have different starting places. Tutoring can include combinations of:
In many cases students tutoring will be more effective after a listening programme to address foundational skills as shown in the above pyramid.