Music for Thinking

We all know that music soothes the so-called savage beast, but it can do much more than that.  I have written before about how beneficial music has been for Nigel, including helping him to sleep better. So in December, for Autism Twitter Day (organized by Bonnie of Autism Family Adventures), I was excited to win a new therapeutic music CD. And the results of listening to it have been pretty wonderful.

Advanced Brain Technologies has created The Listening Program as a type of Auditory Integration Training/therapy. The program, first available in 1999, consists of audio CDs containing psychoacoustically modified classical music designed to stimulate the different functions of the auditory processing system. This is accomplished by carefully selecting compositions which include varied orchestration, tempo, octave, meter, etc. Post-production techniques involve filtration, audio bursting, blending, spatial dynamics, audio morphing, and more. Case studies demonstrating the positive outcomes with ASD kids using this program are available here.

Or, you can just read this case study: In the past two weeks since Nigel began listening to Music for Thinking before going to bed, not only has he slept better, I have seen noticeable improvement in two other areas. According to Advanced Brain, researchers have made a link between the middle ear and social engagement that provides insight into why some ASD individuals may demonstrate behaviors and communication difficulties in certain situations and environments. I hadn’t yet made that connection when I wrote about Nigel recently wanting to go back to regular school to be with his peers and the fact that he did so well at a Boy Scout function last week. But it makes sense now, after reading the detailed literature included with the CD.

The other area in which I notice improvement is in his schoolwork. He is frustrated because he wants to go back to regular school, and his attitude reflects that. However, the quality of his work has improved, as well as his ability to organize his thoughts. Just last week he wrote a three-paragraph essay about one of his Scout camping trips. It was well-organized, full of wonderful details, and included a conclusion listing all the things he learned on the trip. We had worked so long and painstakingly on his writing skills, starting less than a year ago with his first fledgling paragraph. To see him go from a labored few sentences to a beautiful, well-planned and well-written three-paragraph essay, well, I’m filled with such pride and emotion that I can’t even describe it.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he was able to do this after listening to Music for Thinking for two weeks. I’m a firm believer, and we’ll definitely be trying more CDs!

11 thoughts on “Music for Thinking

  1. goodfountain

    Hi. De-lurking to ask if you listen to those with regular speakers (or earbuds) or do you use special headphones? My daughter did listening therapy for awhile with special headphones. Just curious. This sounds really neat. 🙂

  2. Tanya Savko Post author

    Hi goodfountain – Glad you de-lurked, and that is a great question. Nigel has worked with a couple different company’s CDs like this, and both of them strongly recommend headphone use for optimal benefit. Nigel can use headphones (earbuds) during the day, but it’s too hard for him at night. They bother him and make it difficult to fall asleep. So he doesn’t use them. But his hearing is so acute that he seems to pick up on the benefits just fine without the headphones.

  3. Tanya Savko Post author

    Mama Mara – I told him the music would help him to fall asleep. And because that boy just loves to sleep, I figured it would motivate him. Now he’s hooked.

  4. Bonnie Sayers

    Great review Tanya. Glad sleep was a good motivator. I have a set of the EASE CDs and bought the headphones but never got Matt to use them, although he did at school. Maybe I should send them a CD to use in class.

    I will have to pick out a CD for us to try out. Thanks for the recommendation and mention/link.

  5. Ginger Kenney

    “Tanya, I am so pleased to hear how well your son did with the Music for Thinking CD, that is wonderful! I am definitely going to share this with the rest of our staff and our founder, Alex Doman.

    I did want to clarify a couple of things though. The Sound Health® collection is classical music that can be listened to by anyone, almost anywhere, with or without headphones. The Sound Health albums can be very helpful as a prelude and as a supplement to The Listening Program®. For example if a child is resistant to headphones, he or she is often eased into wearing them by using Sound Health or Music for Babies® on speakers. The music selected for each CD is very carefully recorded and produced for the purpose. For instance the tempo of Music for Learning is slower than Music for Motivation, but faster than Music to DeStress, or Music to Relax. I use these CDs almost every day; based upon what I feel will help in a particular circumstance. If I have trouble sleeping for instance, I may listen to Music to Relax, but I would not drive while listening to it.

    The Listening Program, which is our music based auditory stimulation method, is different, though the same musicians perform the music. TLP is a home-based program administered through trained providers; typically SLPs, OTs, special ed teachers, psychologists, MDs, etc. It is available on CDs or on an iPod, and is listened to with high quality headphones, with or without bone conduction. You are correct in saying the music in The Listening Program is treated in post production, with audio bursting, filtration, Spatial Surround™, spatial dynamics, etc. Each module lasts for fifteen minutes; with a five minute phase of accommodation to relax the listener and prepare the auditory system, five minutes of the music with more treatments, and then the last five minutes is for integration and to relax the listener again. There is much more information available at

    I apologize for any confusion. I had asked our office to include information about The Listening Program when your Sound Health CD was sent, but didn’t think to explain that it was a different product. Nigel sounds like such a great kid, and again we are so pleased to hear that he responded so well to Music for Thinking!”

  6. Tanya Savko Post author

    Thanks, Ginger. I appreciate the clarification, and we look forward to trying more titles!

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