The Listening Centre in Toronto – Part One

I had the wonderful opportunity to spend the day at the Listening Centre in Toronto. The Director of the Centre, Morana Petrofski, was gracious enough to spend time talking to me about the centre and how their therapists help people retrain their ear. The Listening Centre is the first facility of its kind in both North and Latin America. It was co-founded in 1978 by Dr. Tomatis and Paul Madaule. Presently, Morana acts as a co-director and a clinical consultant at the Centre and leads a team of listening therapists. 

I was introduced to the centre by one of my clients, Luke, who has autism. He has been attending sessions to retrain his ear and strengthen the muscles in the ear and vestibular system (the eye-ear connection). I was invited to attend his sessions, as Morana and the team were interested in what I was doing with Luke to improve muscle tone and help with reflex integration.  I was immediately impressed with the connection between music, low muscle-tone in the ear, and the different techniques the centre uses to stimulate the vestibular system. I work on children with low muscle tone and find that they have several reflexes that are not integrated. The most common is the Tonic Labyrinthine reflex where individuals have low muscle tone in their neck. 
Harald Blomberg, with whom I’ve been fortunate to train, explains that the function of the Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex (TLR) is to link the vestibular sense to the proprioceptive and to develop a sense of balance. The vestibular sense responds to movements of the head. If the TLR is not integrated the effect will be that every head movement backward or forward changes muscle tone and confuses the balance centre. Individuals with unintegrated TLR may have difficulties in judging space, distance, depth and speed. They tend to have balance issues, coordination, and equilibrium challenges. In school, one might see the posture of the student being shrunken over their desk because it is just too much effort to hold their head up. 
It was a perfect marriage of the two therapies working together. The Listening Therapist invites children to draw, paint or play, while they receive sound stimulation through the headphones. Having Luke listen to sounds through his sound stimulation was analogous to giving the race car, premium gas. I in turn was excited to show the therapists how I use Rhythmic Movements. While Luke was combining his sound stimulation with the rhythmic movements, it was like giving Luke the best possible high octane gas for even greater success. 
I look forward to how I can bring this new relationship and knowledge to you all and how I can incorporate the ideas into the classroom and my workshops. 
To learn more about the amazing work at the Listening Centre, visit their site at 
Until next time, keep smiling. 
Liz Jones-Twomey 

Paul Madaule
Paul came from France to Canada in 1978 to help establish the Tomatis Method in North America. A director of The Listening Centre since its inception, Paul also helped create a dozen of other Centres throughout the US and Mexico. Paul graduated in Psychology from the University of Paris-Sorbonne in 1972. He spent several of his formative years working with Dr. Tomatis in his Paris Centre.  In addition to numerous articles on subjects related to the educational and therapeutic value of music, voice and listening training with children with developmental and learning problems, Paul is the author of a book When Listening Comes Alive (1993) that has been translated to a number of languages including Spanish, German, Chinese and Japanese. He has drawn from his 30 years of clinical experience to develop a portable audio-device called The Listening Fitness Trainer (LiFT®). He and his team developed Listening Fitness with the LiFT program and a professional training course, to make listening training available to wider audiences. 

Parents have their own room where they can benefit from a relaxation sound program at no extra cost while consulting information from the Centre’s resource library, comparing notes with each other, or simply enjoying the friendly and peaceful atmosphere of the Centre. From time to time, they visit with one of the Consultants to discuss the child’s progress, share their observations and concerns, and seek advice and recommendation. Home-based programs are available to certain clients for “boosts” and skill enhancement. 

Listening Training helps children with issues such as: 

Attention and Focus 
• Attention Deficit Disorder -with or without Hyperactivity (AD/HD) 
• Inability to Focus 
• Distractibility 
• Difficulty to concentrate 

Language and Learning

• Learning Disabilities (auditory-language and non-verbal LD) 
• Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) 
• Reading and Writing Difficulties (Dyslexia) 
• Speech and Language Delays and Disorders 
• Fine Motor and Organizational Skills 

Communication and Socialization

• Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)   
• Asperger’s Syndrome 

Other Developmental Issues

• Sensory Integration Dysfunction (‘Out of Sync’ child) 
• Global Developmental Delay 
• Cerebral Palsy (CP) 
• Down’s Syndrome and Other Genetic Differences 

Areas of progress experienced by children during and after
the listening training 
• auditory processing • attention span • focus • clarity of speech 
• spontaneity • curiosity • happiness • ease of expression • well-being   
• motivation at school • organizational skills • learning • reading • writing  • sentence structure • muscle tone • balance • posture • body awareness 
• gross & fine motor functions • coordination • eye contact • desire to initiate 
• socialization • nonverbal communication • assertiveness  
• flexibility • tolerance • confidence • responsibility • independence
• maturation • sensory integration • regulation •  visual-motor skills • motor planning 

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