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Ask The Expert - Alexandra Freer
08/30/2011

Ask The Expert - Alexandra Freer


Alexandra Freer
Key to Me Therapy
514 Main Street, Suite 4
Bradley Beach, NJ 07720
(732) 776-7302
www.keytometherapy.com



Alexandra L. Freer, Certified Professional Listening Therapist, founded Key to Me Therapy in Bradley Beach, New Jersey five years ago. Through her practice, she  has helped hundreds of individuals with auditory processing issues, learning  difficulties, sensory processing issues and spectrum-related challenges improve  their sensory and auditory processing abilities. Alex has 19 years experience  implementing remediation programs as an educational consultant to major school  districts around the country and has published several educational texts as well as  multiple articles on sensory and auditory issues. Key to Me Therapy helps  individuals with processing and developmental challenges make neurological  changes in processing using innovative technology-based therapies including  Dynamic Listening and Interactive Metronome.



Sensory and auditory pro­cessing are two very impor­tant issues that are impacting our children and their ability to learn. Can you share with our readers what these sen­sory and auditory  processing issues really mean?

We all perceive the world through our senses–it is the only way we know what is going on. Our pri­mary sensory systems–visual, auditory and vestibular (move­ment)–work as networks that  integrate information from all the body’s senses in order to provide the brain and body with the  in­formation it needs to successfully navigate its environment. If these systems develop differently  in the early stages of life, misperceptions can occur, which means that an in­dividual may receive  the sensory messages but that those messages do not always match reality. For example, if a child does not crawl (or has an unusual crawl, like the “commando crawl”) before walk­ing, that child may be having difficulty with movement percep­tion. The same child frequently experiences other motor or move­ment misperceptions in the fu­ture, which can impact everything from balance and coordination to the ability to sit and attend. Like­wise, if a child has chronic ear infections during crucial times in language development, that child may experience delays in speech, articulation issues and academic challenges down the road. It is important to understand that the child’s hearing may be perfect, yet what the child hears (or more ac­curately perceives) does not match what is being said.



What can be done about sen­sory and auditory processing?


Proper identification of the issues is important and not always easy. Once identified, accommodations and support, especially at school, are helpful. Remarkably, process­ing issues can also be treated and improved. The brain has a natural ability to change when given prop­er input (called neuro-plasticity). Therapies that work to change the brain’s perceptions at the neu­rological level–vision therapy, sensory integration therapy and listening therapy, for example–can dramatically improve an individu­al’s processing.



How does listening therapy work?

Let’s take the example of the child with ear infections. If fluid was present when the child first began to imprint the “TH” sound, he or she may not have developed proper perception of the frequencies as­sociated with “TH.” Therefore, whenever the child encounters the “TH” sound, he or she may actu­ally hear a slightly different sound, for example an “F.” Frequently, this child will make errors in spelling, reading and writing or may even have articulation errors around this sound. Listening therapy uses music that is enhanced by a com­puter to introduce the missing or misperceived sound frequencies to the brain. The brain then develops a pathway in response to the mu­sic and that new pathway, which correctly perceives the frequencies associated with the “TH,” will now accurately perceive the “TH.” The child will naturally show improved use of the “TH” once he or she is able to “hear” it.



Can you share an example of recent clients and their im­provement over time?


Yes. A child we’ll call John came to us at seven years old. He was struggling to learn to read, had poor spelling abilities and was also having difficulty remaining atten­tive in class. He was  socially well-adjusted, although he tended to be bossy and was not always a good sport.  Although generally physical­ly-inclined, he avoided balance ac­tivities–wouldn’t ride a bike, tried  to skateboard but couldn’t, etc. Upon testing, it was discovered that John was having difficulty  processing specific frequencies that relate to vowel sounds and softer consonant sounds. These  same frequencies have an impact on balance and grav­itational perception. He participated in Dynamic Listening Therapy–listening therapy coupled with sen­sory-based play activities–and with­in four months began to read. He still needed some help with spelling, but his confusion of vowel sounds went away. Within a short time he was reading age-appropriately, found it easier to pay attention in class and also began to ride a bike. By im­proving his perception of specific sound frequencies, John’s abilities changed. With help and practice, he was then able to progress academi­cally and personally.




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