During the first three years of life our ears ‘tune in’ to the sounds of the language spoken around us. This is a very precise process – the difference between sounds such as ‘a’ and ‘e’ or ‘f’ and ‘th’ are subtle. If there are interruptions in this developmental process for any reason, a child may not hear accurately, which could result in difficulties acquiring literacy skills at school.

Ear dominance plays an important part in speed of processing and listening skills. Our speech and language processing centres are normally in the left side of the brain. The right ear should, therefore, be the dominant receiver of speech sounds, sending the signals directly to the left brain. If the left ear dominates, the signals travel first to the right hemisphere and then have to cross over to the left. This can take twice as long, causing the left eared child to get ‘left behind’. It can seem as though they are not listening or concentrating and they find it hard to follow a list of instructions.

A thorough audiometric test can pick up these difficulties.

Various types of Sound Therapy have been developed over the years by ENT Surgeons, Physicists and Educationalists. They are all based on the same principle of direct stimulation to the speech and language processing centre to encourage maturity and better performance. People listen through headphones. The sounds cover all the language frequencies and act as ‘gentle physiotherapy’ for the hearing system. The aim is to make individual sounds clearer and easier to discriminate and to encourage right ear dominance.