Three of our kids are living with ADHD and, needless to say, it makes life interesting! But it also makes our days rather challenging, especially because we are dealing with sensory processing issues with two of them as well.
If you’ve ever considered music therapy for ADHD, learn about how our experience with Integrated Listening Systems worked out!
Disclosure: I received access to this product in exchange for this post and I was compensated for my time. All opinions are my own and I was not required to post a positive review.
What is Music Therapy for ADHD?
To get the full details about music therapy for ADHD and how it works, visit the Integrated Listening Systems website for information. iLs has been used at some of the top clinics in the world that provide treatment for learning problems and the company also offers in-home therapy programs, including the Total Home Focus program. Since we’re trying to avoid medication (for now), the program, which uses movement and activity, was a wonderful option for us.
The Total Home Focus Program comes with everything you see above. For more about what each item is, see our initial post about getting started with iLS. But to summarize: It’s a therapy program that includes classical and ambient music for kids (and adults) to listen to as they relax or do guided motor skills exercises.
The real secret sauce is the bone conduction headphones that let you actually feel the music in your body. It’s a great immersive experience and it helps to focus attention on the music, rather than being distracted by everything else (which often happens to people with ADHD).
Since Pooh has had long-standing sleep issues related to ADHD, iLs graciously allowed us to try out the Dreampad as well. It’s a special pillow that uses bone conduction to relax and ease you into sleep while playing ambient music.
Once I hook it up, he’s usually out like a light. This is the same boy that typically awakens with enormous bags under his eyes in the morning. He asks to use the Dreampad every night.
How Music Therapy Helped Our Family
Many families have been helped by using the iLs Total Home Focus Program. Here’s our experience:
Week 1: I focused on starting Roo with the program first. He’s our six-year-old and his ADHD is the most severe. He has extreme trouble sitting still for any length of time. He has serious mood swings and he can be a big sensory seeker, crashing and bumping into things on purpose.
I learned that he hating simply sitting still and listening to music, so I tried to give him a simple and quiet activity to do while he listened: drawing.
Week 2: Roo still wasn’t a huge fan of the program. When I’d tell him to get the headset, he’d give me the “Aw, Mom!” routine. During week 2, I changed up his activity, letting him play with Unifix cubes instead of drawing. He seemed to do better with those.
Week 3: During Week 3, I introduced Pooh to the program. His temperament is very different from Roo. He’s content to sit quietly and read while listening. Interestingly, he said that his playlist made him feel sad, so I changed up the tracks a bit.
Week 4: Our home coach recommended that we hold off on the exercises until the kids were more accustomed to the program, so we started with them gradually in week 4. I gave Roo the balance board to practice Balance Board Sitting – an exercise from the Early Developmental Program. He actually liked it! Plus, it kept him still for 5 minutes straight!
Week 5: Tigger, who’s 11, doesn’t really care for doing an activity as she listens to the music. She’d rather just lie back on her bed and listen quietly. Since she has struggled with coordination issues for some time, I’m really anxious for her to start with the exercises, but our home coach told me not to push the exercises with the kids, so I’m not. I think she’ll want to try them on her own in time.
Week 6: In Week 6, I found that the kids have got to be separated when one is doing therapy. Otherwise, they start to talk and chatter over the music and the whole point of the therapy is lost. Since all three are using the program, they take turns going to their rooms or to the dining room table ALONE to listen and work. Live and learn.
Week 7: Roo was ready to try some of the other exercises in his program, so we added a few that used the enclosed beanbags.
What happens when you hand a sensory seeker a beanbag? He immediately squeezes it to his face, proclaiming how much he loves how it feels. 🙂
One of the exercises we tried this week was called “Drop, Catch, and Under Leg”. It works on coordination, especially with crossing the midline. Roo is ambidextrous, so he’ll just switch hands when he has to cross his midsection. This exercise helped him work on using both hands on both sides. He liked it because it reminded him of dribbling a basketball.
We also tried the “Dog Walk”. Roo crawled from one end of the room to the other while attempting to keep a beanbag on his back. We added difficulty by having him close his eyes, based on the exercise suggestions. When he did that, he instantly started crawling crooked. We will definitely keep practicing this exercise for a while.
Week 8: This week is week 8 and Roo has adjusted well to using the program regularly. He even asks if he can do his music therapy in the morning! I cannot tell you how much that helps me, because he wakes up first and he often becomes restless and noisy, which disturbs his siblings. Now, he gets up quietly, asks for his headphones, and goes to the table to listen and do a quiet activity. It’s a big change.
Why We Loved the iLS Total Home Focus Program:
- It’s customizable. You can adapt the program to what is best for your child. After we filled out our initial assessment, our home coach suggested a program for each child to follow based on his or her needs. Then I adjusted as I saw fit. Roo couldn’t handle more than 30 minutes per session. Tigger, though, could do a full hour at a time.
- There is plenty of support. Our personal home coach Sharon was wonderfully helpful. She was very attentive to us, checking via phone and email regularly. And she welcomed all of my questions and concerns, listening to our situation and offering helpful suggestions.
- It’s not a magic cure. iLs never advertises itself as a magic cure for ADHD and SPD, and it’s not. Instead, the program is designed to be used continuously over several weeks, gradually helping clients improve focus, attention span, and self-control. I like that it’s part of an overall lifestyle change – one that we’ve really benefited from making.
Be sure to contact Integrated Listening Systems to learn about how the iLs Total Home Focus program can help your family! And learn more about music therapy for ADHD by following Integrated Listening Systems on social media: