Integrated Listening Systems (iLs) is an additional therapy that is used at Jacob’s Ladder that supplements a student’s individualize program. As part of their repertoire of services, iLs has recently added a new service to their therapies, the Safe and Sound Protocol. The Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) is an “innovative intervention designed to improve an individual’s social communication behaviors by reducing hearing sensitivities and improving the ability to process human speech.” SSP is a 5-day non-invasive therapy that utilizes modified music to designed to retune the auditory sensory system. In addition to providing iLs to our students, Jacob’s Ladder has recently begun integrating SSP with a few of our students.
Bryson, one of our Hope School students, is a 15-year-old male with a diagnosis of Autism. Overall, he is conversational when centered and present in the moment, however he will verbally perseverate on topics and engages in scripted language when disengaged with his environment. However, Bryson has challenges with processing auditory stimulation. He presents with a hypersensitive response to a variety of environmental sounds and loud noises. He has difficulty with filtering auditory information and has challenges when listening and concentrating in academic or social settings with peers and providers. In addition to auditory stimulation, Bryson’s vestibular functioning is significantly hypo-sensitive. This integration of auditory and vestibular challenges has led to deficits in impaired spatial awareness, focus, learning, language, and overall arousal and engagement with his environment.
The goal for implementing SSP was to address emotional and behavioral regulation. Bryson completed the Safe and Sound Protocol for 4 days, utilizing the child’s playlist. Music is typically not a preferred activity for Bryson, but he quickly acclimated to the tones and frequencies of the music. Bryson chose to complete the intervention while relaxing in a beanbag in a quiet room in his classroom building; the bean bag provided slight pressure input and he preferred to have play-doh on hand as additional tactile input while listening to the music. Following the first day, Bryson had the following things to say about the protocol:
After completing the Safe and Sound Protocol, Bryson’s teachers noted marked improvement across several domains. There was increased engagement with peers and providers in both social and academic settings and an increase in spontaneous language and original thought. Teachers also noted that Bryson is better able to comprehend what is being said to him and has begun responding appropriately. In relation to improvements with behavior, there has been a decrease in auditory sensitivity and escape behavior as a means to avoid the environmental auditory stimulation. In situations that typically result in heightened behavior and emotionality, Bryson has presented with an increased level of calmness and decreased levels of anxiety. One week following the last day of the protocol, Bryson’s teachers have continued to see positive shifts in his participation across a variety of social settings and in his ability to regulate his emotional state.
We are looking forward to continuing to use this new additional therapy with our students!