Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lent: Adding Habits

Lent...time to give up (not on yourself or people)...or give...or do extra. Traditionally, growing up, we always found something to give up.  As a kid, you might have been one to give up something easy. I remember Mom giving up Coke which is something she definitely enjoys. In college, I gave up dessert every year. It was very hard for me, but by the end I was proud of the discipline I had learned which taught me to withhold gratification or just wait. I also felt like it brought me closer to the Lord. Not that I learned exactly what he went through for mankind, but it encouraged me to think about what he gave up for us. I think sacrifice does give us an appreciation for what we have and also helps us to put ourselves in the shoes of others. Giving up meet on Fridays also reminds me that I am fortunate enough to be able to by good tasty meat and that it is important for me to take a day to eat something like fish that has health benefits.

Several years ago, I started something different for myself instead of "giving up" by "doing different" or changing habits and I found that many others were also "doing" this too. Giving up desserts, like I mentioned, helped me in a lot of ways, but I also went back to eating desserts regularly after lent too. I wanted to do something to change habits that I wanted to continue all year. Last year I focused on my response with tone of voice in moments of frustration. It's something I was trying to do anyway, but being lent, I had the extra reminder. I have another friend who a few years ago, decided she was going to go to bed earlier. She picked a time that she had to be in bed by which I think was 11:00 PM. She said it helped her to feel more refreshed in the morning although some nights she was practically running to hop in bed on time from whatever she was doing, but 40 days of it was good for helping to change a habit. 

This year I decided I am going to write in a journal every night.  A paper journal with a pen.  It doesn't have to be lengthy, but I'm going to write something about what I'm thinking, feeling, enjoying, or just something that happened in the day. I did this very frequently in college and it was very emotionally refreshing.  Sometimes issues that were bothering me seemed more clear after writing them down. I think that journaling every night may help me to be more patient in my family life, more relaxed, and feel like my mind is not racing.  Journaling in a computer is good too, but it feels different when writing with a pen and paper.  I have learned that different neural pathways in our brain are used with writing rather than typing.  It requires us to make "shapes" or "lines" when we write and not just push something.  It requires a bit more artistic side plus more.  There is some sacrifice involved with this too. I will have to sacrifice time to do this, but I think during and after, I will be glad. So this will be my extra. 

Just to add a little story to this lent post, I recently went to confession and was impressed by the penance the priest gave me.  He put the penance on me and said, "What do you think you should do to fix it?"  He gave advice, but also gave me some independence in solving the problem which I think is what great counselors do.  I told him I needed to make a plan on what I would do in that situation the next time. He said, "Okay good. That is your penance."  I appreciated his help in working to change habits. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Exploring Sounds- Auditory Skills

This week at home, for pre-school, I thought an exciting theme for discovery would be Exploring Sounds. There are a variety of auditory skills that are important to develop and can be learned and practiced through numerous enjoyable games. I use these games during music therapy evaluations to get an idea of any auditory sensory issues that might be going on with my students. 

Audition is the physical act of hearing or receiving sound).  It is passive and involuntary.  The ear is the transmission system and sends the information to the brain in a few areas including the auditory cortex and the pre-frontal lobe. The brain is "suppose to discard un-needed auditory information after evaluating its safety and informational features (Berger, 87).  The way we receive and process sound of course affects the way we receive and express language. 

The games we played this week include 

  • auditory discrimination 
  • sound localization
  • depth perception

Auditory discrimination is needed to tell the difference between sounds.  We can determine with this skill that language sounds are different than other sound effects like animals and machinery. We can also tell the difference between letter sounds like an "F" sound and an "S" sound. Sound localization is determining where a sound is coming from and depth perception tells us how far away or close it is. The absence of this skill can be a safety problem in situations like crossing a street. 

Auditory Discrimination

Game Number 1
I placed 4 different sounding instruments on the floor on one side of a wall where I was sitting. On the other side of the wall I placed the exact same instruments where my daughter sat. I sang a tune which I got from my supervisor with instructions to listen and then play what is heard.  The instruments included a drum, a maraca, a tambourine, and rhythm sticks. 

After she was successful at determining which instruments I was playing by listening I gave her a few more instruments to choose from.  These instruments required listening a little closer due to some of the new instruments sounding more similar to others such as the claves vs. the rhythm sticks and the tambourine vs. the bells.  With practice she was able to learn these too. 

Game Number 2
We also played a very simple auditory discrimination game by having her listen to sound effects I found on Spotify and having her guess what they were.  Some examples included birds, a fire truck, the ocean, etc. 

Sound Localization and Depth Perception
In this game I used my Bluetooth speakers and the music on my phone to play Music Hide and Seek. I hid the speakers while my daughter hid her eyes. When it was hidden I hit "play" on my phone and music played from the speakers.  She followed the sound to where she thought she heard it coming from, determining the direction (sound localization) and how far away it was (depth-perception). She took turns having me find it too. Even though she found it every time, she still asked me how I knew where it was. :) 

There are many other skills we did not do that include

  • Auditory figure-ground- what we hear in the foreground while putting non-important sounds in the background. 
  • Auditory focus- What one choose to listen to in a soundscape
  • blending of sounds-putting sounds together to form words and sentences.
  • Auditory tracking- The brain following and keeping track of a sequence of sounds.

Berger, D.S. (2002).  Music Therapy, Sensory Integration, and the Autistic Child.  Routledge.