Researchers Seeking Hypersensitive Children For A Sound Therapy Study

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — A new study at University of the Sciences is recruiting children ages 5-12 with hypersensitivity, to participate in an upcoming 12-week blind study exploring the potential physiological and behavioral benefits of using sound therapy during overnight sleep.

“Lack of sleep in children with hypersensitivity often leads to poor behavior, including the inability to socialize and engage in daily activities,” said Dr. Rondalyn V. Whitney, interim director of the occupational therapy doctoral program. “This study allows us to use science to aid the technological development of products that could help individuals with sensory impairments.”

“Our study will help determine if overnight sound therapy sessions have a positive impact on the behaviors of children with autism and hypersensitivity,” said Dr. Varleisha Gibbs, director of doctoral projects and assistant professor of occupational therapy. “If children are not sleeping, the chances are likely their parents are not either. Unfortunately, that is a recipe for a very stressful household.”

After attending a seminar introducing a tech company, Integrated Listening Systems, Dr. Gibbs was intrigued with its sound therapy products, and reached out to CEO Randall Redfield. Dr. Gibbs and Redfield discovered a strong connection between the company’s research desires and the agenda of the occupational therapy program at USciences. That’s why the company is providing USciences with 30 sound therapy products to be tested during this research.

Dr. Whitney and Dr. Gibbs will select 30 children who have a history of fear or overreaction to touch, sound, smell, and sight. Children with hearing and vision loss, or severe and aggressive behavior, will not be considered for this study. Research is slated to begin in October.

For three weeks, the children will listen to classical, ambient, choral, or overtone music at night for two hours while asleep. In turn, their parents and guardians will complete an observation chart regarding their findings. The participants and their families will also undergo weekly meetings with a trained research assistant, such as an occupational therapy student from the University.

The intent of this research is to measure the extent to which sound therapy improves behavior and family quality of life in children with hypersensitivity. Anyone interested in participating in this study, or acquiring more information, can contact Dr. Gibbs at or 215-596-7347.

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