Debbie has been living with severe learning disabilities and impaired hearing for her entire life. She lives at home with her parents and like a lot of families living with disabilities, they strive to ensure Debbie enjoys a high quality of life despite of the emotional and physical difficulties families like them can face.
Greg Hanford, our Director says “You would think that a therapy involving sound would not be an option for a person with the same pathology as Debbie. But Debbie is testament to the fact that Music Therapy can be experienced on so many different levels, and is a benefit to a broad range of people who would otherwise struggle with the simple, yet integral things in life such as communication and expression, that most of us take for granted”.
- There are over 9 million people in Great Britain Living with deafness ranging from mild to profound. That’s 1 in 7 of the population.
- 1 in 1000 children are born severely or profoundly deaf.
- Deafness is the third most common disability in the world.
- 24’000 people in the UK are deaf-blind.
Before Debbie met with Vibe she had never been exposed to music on this level. Debbie spends some of her time at a day centre run by Vivo Care Choices who offer support to people living with learning disabilities, autism and dementia. It is here where she first met with Vibe.
Our therapist started with placing Debbie’s placing hand on the guitar to feel the vibrations. From there we introduced a small vibration speaker by the company Damson that turns any surface it touches into an amplifier, in this instance the guitar.
This intensified the vibrations allowing Debbie to effectively “hear” the instrument being played by touch alone. This enables us to give Debbie a feeling of comfort, understanding and connection not only to the instrument, but also to the therapist, which enables her to express herself freely in a way she feels open to. From there we started to build Debbie’s confidence to explore a range of different instruments that she feels a connection with.
There are many levels of deafness and while profound deafness may present many challenges with audible communication it does not negate the potential for the vibrational qualities of musical instruments to provide a means of communication and expression. Musical instruments can be a incredibly active source of vibration such as acoustic guitar tops and many percussion instruments. Music therapy is all about communication between people and although conventionally this is done with the audible and music in this instance the same instruments are used in a specific way to support clients living with profound deafness.
Although we are relatively new to working with clients with hearing loss, but the success story of Debbie has taught us many things and we are already working with a company offering headphones which use bone conduction technology that delivers sound frequencies directly to your ear canal using vibrations. This is just one of the ways that we plan to make music therapy accessible to everyone.
Information on the speaker used can be found on Damson’s website HERE.