by Grace Kelso, OTD, OTR/L
How does it work and is it right for my child?
What is iLs?
The Integrative Listening System (iLs) is a home-based program that uses the combined effects of music, multi-sensory input and movement to support better brain and body organization. The program involves wearing a special headset that both plays music and provides input via bone conduction to the vestibular system in the inner ear. The vestibular system controls aspects of how your body moves through space such as coordination, balance and body awareness. While wearing the headset, your child will perform a series of movement exercises as well as go about their usual routines at home. Consistent multi-sensory input (auditory, visual, vestibular) both strengthens these different sensory systems and supports them to modulate and work better together. The goal of the program is to use these graded multi-sensory experiences to help your child gain better control of their body.
How does it work?
iLs is based on the scientific concept of neuroplasticity, which means that we can change how our brain is “wired” through targeted, repeated experiences. There is an expression about neuroplasticity that says: “networks that fire together, wire together.” This means that stimulating different sensory pathways at the same time can help support better organization and inter-connectivity between them. The classical music in the iLs system changes as you progress through the program and is based on the properties of sound frequency. For example, lower sound frequencies are generally more calming and organizing, while higher frequencies are more alerting. The program begins with more low frequencies, but works in higher frequencies as you progress to build tolerance and resilience to the different forms of auditory input. This graded auditory input combined with bone conduction to the vestibular system and movement exercises provides a sensory-rich experience that supports these different systems to work together.
Who can benefit from iLs?
There are several different programs within the iLs system that can target different areas of need. iLs can support areas such as attention and self-regulation, auditory processing, sensory processing, reading, learning and speech-language. iLs has been used for children as young as 22 months, and there is no upper age limit. Many adults find iLs beneficial as well to support brain and body organization. Here is a link to examples of successful case studies of different ages and areas of need: https://integratedlistening.com/case-studies/
Is iLs supported by evidence?
Many studies have been done that support the effectiveness of iLs with different populations. Examples of benefits from research studies include:
- increased relaxation, fewer meltdowns and a generally calmer disposition for children with sensory processing challenges
- when combined with art therapy, an improvement in all areas of reading including cognitive, academic, and psychological areas for K-12 students
- for children with auditory processing disorder improvements were found with vestibular function, auditory processing skills, decreased medication use and improved ABR binaural summation (a measure of the coordination between both ears)
- for children ages 4-8 with autism, improvements were found with social skills, emotional regulation and overall functional adaptive behavior skills
To read about these and other research studies, visit: https://integratedlistening.com/research/
What will it look like for my child?
Talk to your therapist if you think your child might be a good fit for iLs and are interested in trying it out. During this extended time at home, iLs is a great home activity that can be done each day. You will rent the equipment and progress through the program under the guidance of your therapist. A typical rental goes for about 3 months, and the specific program will be customized to meet your child’s needs. Your child will wear the listening system for up to 1 hour per day. The minimum recommended “dosage” to support neuroplasticity is at least 4 hours of wearing the system per week. Your therapist may be able to have your child try the headset on during a session to see if they can tolerate wearing it before renting.
Check out the website: https://integratedlistening.com for more information!