This is the part 2 of a two part post. To read part 1 please click here.
That WAS our beginning…but unlike a traditional story, ours does not have an “end” rather we are still writing our chapters of Elizabeth’s life. I was thinking about just how long we have been using The Listening Program® (TLP), and it is over 12 years. I was quite amazed to realize that number and to mentally review all that we have done and lived in those years with Elizabeth.
She has been through preschool and elementary school…learning how to act in class and be with other children.
She has been through middle school…how to navigate the “tween” years.
She is in high school and thriving…learning the subtle nuances of teenage social skills.
Because of Elizabeth’s disorders, some days she will feel very organized and calm, other days she will show signs of stress, be it from a new situation, a new skill she is learning or events in life that cannot be helped. Because TLP is guided by a trained therapist, they can make sure that the sequence of music used fits your child’s needs be it overall or related to current situations.
Unlike other therapies that one does at home, you are not alone with The Listening Program®. This is something that cannot be overstated because as parents of special needs children know, sometimes you can feel so alone trying to figure out what to do next or how to handle things if you are seeing a problem as opposed to a typical response to a new therapy. For us this was a huge comfort and if you would like proof of this please just ask our beloved therapist, Mary how many times I have called her about the music!
Because Mary knows our child so well, she was able to talk through the current situation and help us provide Elizabeth with the right modules or albums of music to use to help her through these times. Mary will joke with me that I would keep Elizabeth on album 4 for forever as it has the low frequencies that calm Elizabeth’s system and relaxes her.
I joke about album 4 but something that has been important for us to learn about the program is that there are albums that will very easy for them to listen to and others that will challenge their systems. As a result, the child can show signs of stress or frustration. When that happened in our case very early on, Elizabeth would appear to be overloaded and on the verge of a meltdown. But Mary would guide us through these times with sensory input given to Elizabeth. Mary assured us that “good will come of this” I watched for this good and it did come…new words…new abilities…more focus…sentence length…or it was her body being so calm that she exuded peacefulness. I share this information because like any new therapy being aware of what to expect makes things much easier to handle.
As I said before, so many years have passed and the music has been right there with us. I remember trying to explain this new music system to her elementary school teachers. The looks on their faces were ones of both disbelief and “isn’t that cute, this mom thinks music will help Elizabeth so much” So many educators simple do not know about it and therefore can be quite skeptical. I am so glad that through this blog and my book I can help to share about The Listening Program®.
Even though the educators were a touch skeptical I made sure to keep them up to date on what album we were on and what they could expect to see. With that said it was quite wonderful to read in a note sent home or hear them say that she was indeed doing what we had predicted.
Anecdotal evidence is a wonderful thing but concrete numbers seem to hold a significant more amount of “water” in the world of educators. I would like to share this story as one that to this day makes me smile….
It was IEP time and I was reading the narrative on it. I came to the narrative from the speech pathologist. Here is what she wrote about Elizabeth’s scores on the OWLS test (on the Listening Comprehension and Oral Expression portions) the scores went up 15 points from the original test date of 2006 to the new test date of 2011. “These tests point to steady growth in understanding of vocabulary and grammar…That indicates very good growth in comprehension.”
When I brought this up to her, she said “Mrs. Gianetti that is an amazing jump in scores. Standard scores should not go up much, maybe a point. But never this much…”
We were so happy…I remember telling the speech pathologist right then again about the music and that this is just what we were told the music could do for her. I know I even emailed Alex Doman at Advanced Brain Technologies to share this news.
I know we have done countless things for Elizabeth in her life…I can count many things done just this morning alone….it is called our life with Elizabeth. But I truly have to give credit for those scores to The Listening Program®.
Even though the sequence of the music is guided by a trained therapist and there is reason for the order of the albums to be the way they are, but we have also used the music to help Elizabeth cope with the extra stress that life brings. When my Dad got sick, Mary and I talked about which albums (iPod) would help to calm her system. Life, as we all know it, is full of ups and downs and we all have our own ways of coping. But for Elizabeth, her SPD can make the typical anxiety we all feel just that much more intense. With Mary’s guidance TLP helps Elizabeth navigate these very stressful times.
As I am writing this, I am watching Elizabeth ride a special bike on day two of a five-day biking camp. She is at this camp to learn how to ride a bike. I need not say just how much anxiety the idea of this camp has been to her. She and I have talked about it many times and I know that helps but until Elizabeth sees the camp for herself, the majority of her anxiety will not go away.
Elizabeth is on a break from the TLP program, as she finished her current round. But she needed something to help her so I used Sound Health music these past two mornings to help her feel calmer. Before she got out of bed she listened to the album titled De-Stress Sound Health is music that can be listened to by anyone at anytime and it appears on the iPod. You can choose which tracks to listen to based on your needs. Elizabeth likes waking up with the music, for her it is how she typically starts her day.
As you can see this music has become a mainstay in our lives. It has been on our journey for 12 years! We cannot say that about too many other things in Elizabeth’s life, as her needs change frequently, but the music has been there…and we have been thankful for its presence.
As most parents of special needs children may feel, the future is one that can look so overwhelming if you try to take it all in at once. Therefore, I try to take those little peeks ahead, while trying to be in the present. What does our future look like? What will Elizabeth do next? Those are truly wonderful questions but ones that I think cannot be answered right now. We want to foster her interests and put those supports in place to help her succeed. Whatever happens next or whatever interests she shows, we know that we want to be and do all we can to help this wonderful child succeed. We want her to reach for as high of a goal as is possible.
That WAS our beginning, this is life right now and I think it is safe to end with “to be continued”…
My name is Michele Gianetti and I am a mom to three wonderful children, they are my gifts from God. But our second child Elizabeth is the one who changed our world the most. She has special needs…specifically Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and dyspraxia. Our family has been on quite the journey since her birth in 1997. She has made amazing gains in life, I wanted to share our story, advice and thoughts and help others so I wrote a book about her life titled: “I Believe In You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey” The book’s title are the very words I have said to her every day of her life since she was one year old. My book is available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com and my website. Please visit my website to read more about her life: www.michelegianetti.com