TSI: Focused Attention and Its Effects

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By Prachi Sinha
NACD Developmentalist, India

dev3I have the opportunity to be an NACD evaluator and plus oversee the implementation of the program at the NACD centre in India, and I am very excited about what I have been seeing with the Targeted Sound Intervention (TSI) – Focused Attention CDs. I felt that I should share my observations with other NACD families. I was very excited to use this program with 5 year-old Dev Ramprasad since I first heard of the concept, and now my enthusiasm has been justified. I had decided to write this article a few weeks back, but today I have even more to share. Each week has given us something more to get excited about.

When the CDs first arrived I went through all of them myself, and what I observed was that the tracks were all very interesting, melodious, and child-friendly. (Great work, John McCallum!) My next obvious observation was that I too can benefit from these CDs. The last two CDs were quite a challenge for me, and for the six minutes per day required to follow the program, I was more than happy to do it.

But what got me most excited was then implementing the program with Dev. Our priority with him has been his auditory processing and active listening skills. The first mammoth task before of us was headphone conditioning, and our past experience told us it wasn’t going to be easy. But when we tried it with him, between the interactive listening technique and the high-interest nature of the content, Dev did not even realize there were headphones over his head. We had bypassed the whole process of headphone conditioning that we had been dreading! The first day we put on the headphone with these tracks playing, he took to it like a duck to water. So with no headphone conditioning required and just 3-minute long tracks, starting this new program became a breeze. Dev now attempts to put the headphones on himself.

The first change I saw with Dev was that for the first time we could give him an instruction from a distance and he would follow it. The first time this happened, it took us by surprise. Usually we had to make him do things. Dev was being mischievous and I asked him to stop, which he immediately did. I pushed my luck by asking him to come to me, and he did. We then sat down together and did his favorite cards, while I kept trying to curb the excitement I was feeling. During this time Dev had also started sitting through my reading short story books to him. These were new and welcomed changes.

dev2The next surprise came a week and half later. Dev had been trying to climb on top of the coffee table while watching the Backyardigans. I looked up from what I had been doing, thinking I would have to pick him up and put him in his chair; but all I had to do was ask him to come down and he did. This was quite an achievement because my dear boy was extremely engrossed in his show. Our everyday interactions with Dev at home, centre and school were becoming more and more interesting, and we were receiving much more response from him than previously, whether smiles, angry noises, an annoyed look, or even just walking off. The school reported him being more involved in his inclusive class and being more attentive towards the class teacher.

The other day Dev followed a conversation being shared between his mother and nanny while watching TV. They were planning to put him down for a nap and decided to feed him later. This being unacceptable to him, he went and got his eating mat and handed it to them. Nothing escapes him anymore. In addition the school is reporting that he is doing better in noisy environments, and he is not covering his ears as frequently. Another pleasant surprise!

Dev has begun to interact much more with other people in his environment. He now tries to get attention from them, unlike earlier when we would be the ones trying to engage him with us. We now often pretend to ignore him so that we can see what new cute techniques he will come up with to get our attention. He makes sure everyone in the room is entertained so no one gets offended. He will cuddle, sit on you, tug on your hand, and vocalize to get your attention.

Another perk with this program has been Dev’s reaction to the program. The smiles and enthusiasm of my little buddy Dev proved how much fun the program was to him. I have now been using the program as a reward for Dev. The first thing he does when he comes in is that he finds his headphones and hands them to us. It has been such a positive experience, and now those 6 minutes of program are what Dev enjoys the most. As do we!

I am excited to see what more is in store for us!

Reprinted by permission of The NACD Foundation, Volume 23 No. 4, 2010 ©NACD