Music is the Key to Unlocking your Child’s Potential

How can I help my child to be calmer, to listen better, to understand more, to express himself better, learn more and enjoy interacting with other children?

In Music is the Key to Unlocking your Child’s Potential, consultant in speech and language therapy Karen O’Connor describes how children with autism, Asperger’s syndrome, dyspraxia and other developmental challenges make remarkable progress with the help of music-based sound therapy.

She describes how these children become more regulated and calmer, how their attention and concentration improve and how language and learning develop.

Children such as three-year old Theo, who came to Karen with a tentative diagnosis of autism, two years later Theo is a fun-loving little boy going to his local school, with no additional support. Or Raphael, who came to see her ‘as a last resort’.

He had very little speech and was not interacting with others. Now he’s speaking just like any five-year-old and enjoys playing with his friends.

Music is the key to Unlocking your Child’s Potential is the first in a series of books that will give hope to parents and children by telling the stories of children like Theo and Raphael who overcame their developmental challenges by means of music-based sound therapy.

Music is the Key

Karen O’Connor, has over twenty years of experience of working with children with many developmental challenges.
Music is the Key to Unlocking your Child’s Potential

Speech and Language Therapy: A new way of learning and thinking

Speech and Language Therapy: A new way of learning and thinking

  • How can I help my toddler to talk?
  • My son’s almost three and still not putting words together. What can I do?
  • My son’s teacher says he needs help with his speech. What can I do at home?

This exciting and inspiring How-To programme has been developed by Karen O’Connor, specialist in Speech and Language Therapy and director of The Child Development Centre. It is designed for parents and other professionals working with children who have speech and/ or language difficulties. This programme is specifically suited to children of 1-7yrs. It offers tools to help you to:

  • Assess your child’s speech and language skills in the comfort of your own home
  • Develop a home programme of sensory activities to help your child listen and concentrate
  • Create a home programme of speech and languge activities to develop your child’s skills
  • Provide information about who to refer to and why

 Praise for the Child Development Centre series

“At last a unique and comprehensive programme that leaves no questions unanswered” – Dr. K. Dunne, Paediatrician

“So easy to use – insiring and empowering …. Worth its weight in gold” – Child Development Centre Parent

With simple, user-friendly techniques you can develop your child’s speech and language skills at home while you are waiting to be seen by a specialist in  Speech and Language Therapy.


Speech and Language Therapy: A new way of learning and thinking

speech and language therapyJournals and Articles…

To view some of these documents you will need to download Adobe Reader. Then, to save an item to your computer, simply right click and ‘Save Target As’

The Effects of Auditory Stimulation on Auditory Processing Disorder: A Summary of the Findings by Deborah Ross-Swain Swain Center

Clinic for Speech Language and Learning Disorders and Research

The study’s purpose is to determine the efficacy of the Tomatis Method of auditory

stimulation as a therapeutic intervention for Auditory Processing Disorders (APD).

Forty-one subjects (18 females. 23 males; 4.3-19.8 years old) were evaluated for APD. Performance on standardized tests indicated weaknesses with auditory processing skills. Each subject participated in a 90-hour Tomatis Method protocol and, once completed, each subject was re-evaluated to measure improvement.

All subjects demonstrated improvement with skills of immediate auditory memory, auditory sequencing. interpretation of directions, auditory discrimination, and auditory cohesion.

Pre- and post-treatment comparison indicated statistically significant differences in the aforementioned skills. These findings suggest that the Tomatis Method of auditory stimulation can be effective as an intervention strategy for APD.

Click here– 17 page article to download as a PDF

Sensory Processing Disorders and Visual–Motor Delays by Leah Hall and Jane Case-Smith.

This study investigated the effects of a sensory diet and therapeutic listening intervention program, directed by an occupational therapist and implemented by parents, on children with sensory processing disorders (SPD) and visual–motor delays.

A convenience sample was used of 10 participants, ages 5 to 11 years, with SPD and visual–motor delays. In the first phase, each participant completed a 4-week sensory diet program, then an 8-week therapeutic-listening and sensory diet program.

The Sensory Profile was completed by the participants’ parents before and after both study phases. The Draw-A-Person test, Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration (VMI), and Evaluation Tool of Children’s Handwriting (ETCH) were administered before and after each phase.

Over 12 weeks, the participants exhibited significant improvement on the Sensory Profile, increasing a mean of 71 points. Parents reported  improvements in their children’s behaviours related to sensory processing.

Scores on the VMI visual and ETCH legibility scales also improved more during the therapeutic listening phase. Therapeutic listening combined with a sensory diet appears effective in improving behaviours related to sensory processing in children with SPD and visual–motor impairments.

Hall, L., & Case-Smith, J. (2007). The effect of sound-based intervention on children with sensory processing disorders and visual–motor delays. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 61, 209–215.

Click here– 7 page article to download as a PDF

The Rollercoaster Question

Understanding How to Identify Sensory Integration Dysfunction in Children

Extreme Sensory Modulation Behaviors in Toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Written by Ben-Sasson, Cermack, Orsmond, Tager-Flusberg, Carter, Kadiek, and DunnAmerican Journal of Occupational Therapy (AJOT) September/October 2007, 61, 584-592

This study examined the incidence of extreme sensory modulation behaviors in toddlers with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and investigated the consistency of sensory information across measures.

Parent report of sensory behaviors in 101 toddlers with ASD was compared with 100 toddlers who were typically developing matched on chronological age and 99 additional infants or toddlers matched on mental age.

Measures included the Infant/Toddler Sensory Profile, Infant Toddler Social Emotional Assessment, Autism Diagnostic Interview Revised, and Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule Generic. Toddlers with ASD were most distinct from typically developing groups in their high frequency of underresponsiveness and avoiding behaviors and their low frequency of seeking.

Within the toddlers with ASD, there were significant associations across sensory parent report measures, but parent report was not correlated with clinical observation. Findings point to the early onset of an extreme sensory profile in ASD. Occupational therapists need to assess multiple domains of sensory
behaviors to accurately identify the needs of toddlers with ASD. Click here – Nine page article to download as a PDF

Behavioral Indexes of the Efficacy of Sensory Integration Therapy

Roberts, J. E., King-Thomas, L., & Boccia, M. L. (2007). Behavioral indexes of the efficacy of sensory integration therapy. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 61, 555-562.

CONCLUSION. Classical sensory integration therapy may be associated with improved self-regulatory behaviors.

Click here – Eight page article to download as a PDF

Validating the Diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorders Using EEG Technology

Davies, P. L., & Gavin, W. J. (2007). Validating the diagnosis of sensory processing disorders using EEG technology. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 61, 176-189.

CONCLUSION. These results present empirical evidence that children with SPD display unique brain processing mechanisms compared to children who are
typically developing and provide external validity for the diagnosis of SPD.

Click here – Fourteen page article to download as a PDF

Collecting Data for the Sensory Processing Measure (SPM)
Lessons Learned By Diana A. Henry, MS, OTR/L

Administrators in U.S. public school systems are increasingly requiring evidence-based interventions, based on the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, as well as the 2004 re-authorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Generating and using evidence is also an essential component of the American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA’s) Centennial Vision. As a pediatric occupational therapy practitioner in the “trenches” in a school or a clinic, you are probably excited about contributing to and participating in research through active data collection.

Although data collection is extremely rewarding, it does have some challenges. In this article I present issues to ponder so you can be successful, and contribute to evidence-based practice (EBP).

Click here – Six page article to download as a PDF.

Not Too Old For Sensory Integration

By Diana A. Henry, MS, OTR/L

In 1972, when Dr. A. Jean Ayres first defined the sensory integration (SI) process as “the ability to organize sensory information for use”, her research focused on identifying specific subtypes or patterns of dysfunction among children. Unfortunately, the emphasis placed on the plasticity of the young brain has been incorrectly interpreted by some to mean that individuals older than age 7 can no longer benefit from sensory integrative intervention. As clinicians, we can now turn to a scholarly and newly published textbook, Sensory Integration. Theory and Practice (1991), and find the following:

Click here– Two page article to download as a PDF.

Sensory Integration: It’s Not Just For Children

“…We believe that the sensory integration framework can be a useful lens for interpreting behaviors and a guide for implementing strategies to enhance occupational performance in clients across the lifespan… This article makes a case that because humans are sensory beings and sensation is inherent in all occupations, the sensory integration framework is relevant to occupational therapy practice beyond pediatric…”Authors: Renee Watling, PhD, OTR/L, Stefanie Bodison, MA, OTR/L, Diana A. Henry, MS, OTR/L, CWT, and Heather Miller-Kuhaneck, MS, OTR/L, BCPPublished: 12/2006 in the AOTA SI SIS Quarterly

Click here – Four page article available to download as a PDF.

1. Mahoney, S. (2004).What was he thinking? Don’t blame hormones. New research shows what really causes your teen’s weird behavior and what to do about it. Prevention Magazine, 56, 3, 159-165 &199.

2. Butler, K. (2006). Drinking may take big toll on teen brains.

3. Pfeiffer, B., Kinnealey,M., M.,Reed, C., & Herzerberg, G. (2005). Sensory modulation and affective disorders in children and adolescents with Asperger’s disorders. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 59, 335-345.

Sensory Processing Disorders: Through The Eyes Of Dysfunction

Have you ever wondered what children or adults with sensory processing disorders feel like, or have to deal with?
I certainly have.Now I would like to give you the opportunity to see SPD “through the eyes of dysfunction”. This can, in turn, lead to acceptance, understanding, and avoidance of blame and judgment. Please open your hearts and minds to the struggles individuals with sensory processing disorders go through on a daily basis.We can see the behavioral signs of distress with too much input, or the energy of not enough input. But,

what does the child/adult really go through while trying to take in and effectively process the bombardment of daily sensory input?

Stanley Greenspan, the author of ” The Challenging Child ” (1995) has an insightful analogy

to help us understand what people experience when they can not effectively process, or interpret, sensory input. He describes it this way:

“Imagine driving a car that isn’t working well. When you step on the gas the car sometimes lurches forward and sometimes doesn’t respond. When you blow the horn it sounds blaring. The brakes sometimes slow the car, but not always. The blinkers work occasionally, the steering is erratic, and the speedometer is inaccurate. You are engaged in a constant struggle to keep the car on the road, and it is difficult to concentrate on anything else.”

It’s no wonder children with sensory processing disorders feel out of control, exhibit a whole host of behaviors, and have difficulty concentrating and focusing at school! Now, also imagine being a parent of one of these children. Many parents have expressed how exhausted, rejected, lost, incompetent and alone they feel in trying to live with, and understand, their child.

I challenge you to remember this beautifully painful quote the next time you encounter a child with sensory processing disorders and begin the process of awareness, understanding, and treatment to help them take control of their bodies, minds and self-esteem. It is so very difficult for them. Let’s acknowledge that and do our best to understand and help them!

Let me put this another way for you, from an adult perspective. I
once did a presentation in a conference room full of adults that worked in day care and preschool settings. I wanted them to relate to and understand the children they saw in their classrooms that struggled with sensory processing disorders. I explained it to them this way…

Recommended Reading.

Music is the Key: to unlocking your child’s potential. Karen O’Connor – Londubh Publishers. (ISBN 9781907535277)

When Listening Comes Alive. Paul Madaule (1993) Ontario: Moulin Publishing

Listening with the Whole Body. Sheila Frick OTR (2006, 2009) Vitallinks, Madison, Wisconsin

The Out-of-Sync Child

Recognising and Coping with Sensory DysfunctionCarol Stock Kranowitz MA – Perigee (ISBN 0-399-52386).

The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun

Activities for Kids with Sensory Integration Dysfunction Carol Stock Kranowitz MA – Perigee.

Answers to Questions Teachers Ask about Sensory Integration: Forms, Checklists, and Practical Tools for Teachers and Parents

Carol Stock Kranowitz MA – Perigee

Sensory Integration and Learning Disorders. Jean Ayres (1972). Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services.

Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight: What to Do If You Are Sensory Defensive in an Overstimulating World

Sensory defensiveness in children aged 2-12: An intervention guide for parents and other caretakers. Patricia & Julia Wilbarger (1991). Santa Barbara, CA: Avanti Educational Programs.

Building Bridges Through Sensory Integration

Therapy for Children with Autism and Other Pervasive Development Disorders (Spiral-bound) Ellen Yack, Paula Aquilla, Shirley Sutton (2002).

The Gift of Dyslexia

Why Some of the Brightest People Can’t Read and How They Can Learn Ronald D. Davis, Eldon M. Braun.

Development Coordination Disorder

Hints and Tips for the Activities of Daily LivingM. F Ball. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London (2002).

Helping Children with Dyspraxia

M. Boon. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London (2006).

Aspergers Syndrome and Sensory Issues

B. Smith Myles, K. Tapscott Cook, N. E Miller, L. Rinner, L.A Robbins. A.P.C. Kansas (2000).

The Goodenoughs Get in Sync

: A Story for Kids about the Tough Day When Filibuster Grabbed Darwin’s Rabbit’s Foot and the Whole Family Ended Up in the Doghouse–An … Introduction to Sensory Processing Disorder (Hardcover)Rby Carol Stock Kranowitz (Author), T. J. Wylie (Illustrator)

Gut and Psychology Syndrome.

Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD (2004)Medinform Publishing. (ISBN….)

Optimum Nutrition for Your Child.

Patrick Holford and Deborah Colson (2008) Piatkus Books.

Neurobiological., basis of speech: A case for the pre-eminence of temporal processing, In: Temporal information processing in the nervous system: Special reference to dyslexia and dysphasia

P. Tallal, A. M., Galaburda, R. R., Llinas and C. Von Euler (Eds), Annals of the NewYork Academy of Sciences, 682, 27-47.Tallal, P., Miller, S Fitch, R. (1993).

Language learning impairment: Integrating research and remediation, Scandinavian Journal of Psychology

v. 39, no.3,p. 197-199.Tallal, P. (1998)

CBT Workbook for Children and Adolescents – A Young Person’s Guide to Thinking Straight. Dr. Gary O’Reily [online] Available from:

A user’s guide to the brain: Perception, attention and the four theatres of the brain.

J.J. Ratey (2002). NewYork: Vintage.

The Ear and Language.

Dr. Alfred Tomatis (1996) Ontario. Moulin Publishing.