Now that school seems to be in full swing and teachers are communicating with parents, we are starting to get questions about the use of headphones for students that have completed the AIT program. Some of the questions are, “Would it hurt if it was for just a few minutes each week,” or “Would it hurt if the volume was kept low”. The answer is, yes, it could hurt.
To give a specific example, I had a 6-year-old girl with extreme hypersensitivity to sounds. After AIT she didn’t have to cover her ears or get overloaded by certain sounds. A few weeks after she had finished, her teacher insisted that she listen to music with regular headphones. Unfortunately, a few days later, she started to complain to her mother that her sound sensitivity was back. Obviously, when the mother found out that the teacher insisted on headphones, even though it was only for 10 or 15 minutes, she was very upset. We tried to counteract the set-back by doing a set of 6 sessions. The mother said it helped but not as much as when she did the full 20. Eventually, she repeated the AIT after about 6 months and again got good results.
We have found that there is an option called “open-back” headphones that have small holes in the back of the ear pieces. This allows air between the speaker and the ear so that it baffles the sound. The downside is that the quality of music will be affected slightly, but for school applications, this is an option that will allow the student to be able to participate in media activities with their peers without the risk of losing the benefits gained from the AIT program. A quick Google search should give several options for purchase, or you can call our office for assistance in finding a good pair.
Also, let us make the offer to speak with any parent or teacher who would like a more detailed explanation of our recommendation to restrict headphone usage. Please call our office to schedule a phone consultation with our AIT practitioner if you would like to learn more about headphone usage after AIT or any other aspect of the AIT program. Our office number is 828-683-6900 and we can arrange daytime, evening or weekend appointments.