For many children, and even adults, hearing loud or intense noises is startling. But for those with auditory processing disorder, it can be debilitating.
Mary Vozza realized her 5-year-old son John had a sensitivity to sound when he was a toddler.
"We took him to the circus, and when the lights went down and the music started, he wigged out, for lack of a better term. And we literally had to pick up and leave," Vozza said.
Vozza struggled with John's meltdowns and was unable to participate in normal family activities.
So she turned to services of Marcia Hacohen, an occupational therapist in Larchmont, N.Y. Hacohen introduced John to the electronic auditory stimulation effect, or EASe.
"I decided to implement the therapeutic listening program. I started with the EASe program because it really works well for children who have a hard time tolerating certain sounds," Hacohen said.
The EASe program works by constantly playing sounds at a variety of volumes and intensity levels while the child completes normal therapeutic activities.
Laurette Olson, an occupational therapist and professor of occupational therapy at Mercy College in New York City, has extensive experience with therapeutic listening.
"What therapeutic listening allows a child to begin to do is to start with sounds in a simpler form. And the sounds are adjusted as the therapy continues," Olson said.
Therapists can change the settings of the EASe app to fit the needs of each individual child, and then receive a detailed report via email following each therapy session.
"It's a great way to measure, in very small increments, how a child is progressing," Hacohen said.
Although John has not been diagnosed with autism, the EASe program can also help treat the same sensory issues that many children on the spectrum face.
"Children with autism are sensory defensive and are particularly sensitive to sound, but there are a whole cluster of children who aren't autistic who also have sound sensitivities," Olson said.
The EASe app is catching on worldwide, according to Vozza, and therapists – and families – are seeing big results.
"We are able to do so much more as a family. It is like a big weight off our shoulders," Vozza said.
For more information on the EASe app, visit www.vision-audio.com.