Avoiding the Summer Slide: How Families Can Continue with Therapeutic Listening® When School Is Out

As summer approaches, anticipation is rising at schools across the country. When you glance around the school, it is hard to tell who is more excited at the thought of warm summer days—the students or the staff. Summer is an exciting time for many, filled with a sense of freedom from the structure and routine of the school year. As therapists, this time of year often means a discontinuation or decrease in services for the summer months as kids are no longer in school, families are traveling, and swimming pools and summer camps fill kids’ days.

A change in routine doesn’t require a change in treatment

However, this change in routine does not necessitate a discontinuation of Therapeutic Listening®. While natural breaks occur within the course of treatment, in some instances families are not ready to take a break from the music. With a few simple recommendations from the treating therapist, families and their children can easily continue with Therapeutic Listening–even during an extended break or ultimately when discharged from therapy.

Suggestions for Developing a ‘Therapeutic Listening® Tune-Up Progression’:

1. Re-evaluate progress towards short-term and long-term goals; discuss with families their goals for the break.
  • Use this information to inform therapist of anticipated outcomes during the continuation of Therapeutic Listening® while on a pause from therapy.
2. Review client’s previous Therapeutic Listening® musical progression.
  • The therapists should give careful consideration to the albums that provided the greatest progress towards the underlying sensory motor foundations (i.e. levels of arousal, core postural activation, breath regulation, attention and focus, social engagement, etc.) necessary to achieve functional outcomes
3. From this list, select 5 or 6 albums that have proven to be the best matches for the child, given the goals and functional outcomes you and the family have identified.
4. Create a customized Therapeutic Tune-Up protocol:
  • Determine the progression of selected albums: therapist will organize the albums in the recommended listening sequence.
  • Frequency and timing of listening: identify if the client should listen once or twice per day; determine if listening at a specific time of day is important for this client.
  • Establish how often client alternates between the selected albums: If the client is using this progression as a continuation of Therapeutic Listening® when therapy services are not available, then have the client change modulated albums every two weeks as indicated for a typical Therapeutic Listening® progression. However, if the client is planning on taking a break and subsequently using Therapeutic Listening® as a boost prior to the start of school, then therapist may recommend changing the albums every week (Profile 1 or 2) or even implementing a faster progression by changing albums every day (Profile 2 or 3) for several weeks.
  • Provide family with Therapeutic Listening® recommendations that outlines the customized progression and sequence.
5. Identify and teach family any additional core/posture and breath activities to carry over as part of home programming recommendations (i.e. scooter board activities, Astronaut Training, gym ball routine, bubbles/whistles that extend the exhale, etc.).
6. If it is anticipated that services will resume after the break, provide the family with feedback forms to gather data on progress achieved during the Therapeutic Listening® Tune-Up. This detailed information from the family will support therapist’s clinical reasoning and treatment planning when services resume.

With these practical recommendations, a break from therapy does not obligate families to take a break from Therapeutic Listening®. It is our hope that families will feel empowered to continue to support the growth and progress of their children through the year. Enjoy your summer!

If you are interested in learning more about incorporating Therapeutic Listening® into your practice or becoming a trained provider, try our Therapeutic Listening® course.

~Tracy Bjorling, M.S., OTR/L

*Note these Tune-Up recommendations are only suitable for clients who have already completed an initial Therapeutic Listening® progression with their therapist trained in Therapeutic Listening®. The recommended Therapeutic Listening® protocol outlines that each album is selected one at a time and changed every two weeks based upon client’s individual progress and goals. Selecting a series of 5 or 6 albums is not acceptable as a recommendation when first starting Therapeutic Listening® with a client.


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