Interactive Metronome: A computer game to help your special needs child
Computer-based programs often entertain children, but a unique program called Interactive Metronome is not only fun, but also successful in improving a wide spectrum of childhood and special-needs issues, including attention, concentration, auditory processing, cognitive speed, executive functions, language processing, memory, motor-control, coordination, phonological awareness, reading and math fluency, self-control, aggression and impulsivity. In addition, IM providers are beginning to report improvements in apraxia of speech, sensory processing and stuttering.
How It Works
The heart of the Interactive Metronome program is a computer-based timing training system. The program consists of hand and foot triggers, both connected to the computer. Children are first asked to clap when they hear a metronome beat, either overhead or through headphones. The computer measures within a tenth of a millisecond how close the child was able to clap with the beat. There are 13 exercises in all using the hand and foot triggers, from simple hand clapping to more complex exercises, such as tapping one-handed and tapping one toe.
Once a child has mastered clapping to the beat, auditory and visual cues are introduced to help the child further work on his or her timing. For example, when a child claps, a different auditory cue (usually coming from the right or left instead of above) alerts them if they are clapping too early or too late. There is also visual feedback of the error on the computer screen. As the child learns these cues, they can then quickly adjust their timing before the next beat.
Once a child is able to adjust their timing and sequencing with auditory and visual cueing, the number of repetitions in each session increases. By the end of the program the child will be concentrating on one task for 20 minutes or more. This allows them to slowly train their attention and cognitive speed, which helps with tasks such as test taking and attending in class. Current research has shown that repetition is the best way to make a permant change in the brain.
Who It Benefits
The Interactive Metronome program has not only proven to be beneficial for children with ADHD and with academic training, it has even been used to help professional athletes change their ability to time and sequence at a much faster rate. The program is also used with adults who have traumatic brain injuries, such as stroke and other neurological and motor disorders.
A double-blind placebo study demonstrated children with ADHD showed significant improvement in attention, coordination, control of aggression, impulsivity, reading and language processing. A motor control study demonstrated that children who completed IM programs demonstrated significantly better motor control and motor coordination as shown by two different independent tests. Several different independent academic studies have shown gains of a year or more in the areas of math, mental fluency and processing speed.
Children are able to complete an Interactive Metronome program in a clinic setting or through a home-based program. Check out www.interactivemetronome.com for further information and additional research data.
Jessica Hunt is the Director of Occupational Therapy and Sensory Integration Programs at the Kaufman Children’s Center. She is certified in Interactive Metronome, including pediatric IM and IM home programs. For more information on Interactive Metronome and other available programs, call 248-737-3430 or visit www.kidspeech.com.