For people who have read about or tried Quickshifts Quickshifts: A Simple, Successful, and Easy to Use Treatment For Processing, Attention and Postural Activation, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about listening on headphones versus speakers, and why the music has this echo-y tone to it.
The use of binaural headphones allows the ears to hear the full range of sound with as little interference or absorption from the environment. It is important that the left and right ear are hearing the sounds separately. The echo-y sound? What you are hearing is the BBT; binaural beat technology.
It isn’t new. BBT has been used and researched since the 70’s. It is out there in many forms; you can even find it on YouTube. There are enough studies done to prove that this technology has real effects on alertness, attention and mood. It makes sense that therapists would like to use it to help kids with self-regulation issues.
BBT is helpful for learning and self-regulation, but only if you know what brainwave state you want, and why you want it. And that is where therapists can help.
But which one to use? I only use Quickshifts in my therapy sessions.
Why do I prefer Quickshifts to deliver BBT?
- Quickshifts entrain an alpha brainwave state. This state is associated with calm focus and, wait for it, interoception. Yup, the biggest new word in occupational therapy is interception, and there are some excellent studies done by neuropsych researchers that indicate that alpha brainwave states increase interoception. Yeah! Interoception is the ability to perceive internal states, and this includes basic physiological states such as fatigue, hunger, and the need to eliminate. So many of our clients struggle with knowing what they feel. Quickshifts can help.
- Alpha brainwave states are theorized to act as a gating mechanism for anxiety, and anxiety isn’t a great state for kids with ASD, SPD, or, really, any of us. Anxiety is a component of so many diagnoses, and it isn’t easy to do cognitive strategies like CBT or DBT with children under 10 or 11.
- The music used in Quickshifts is very carefully designed to enhance specific functional states, and every occupational therapist is all about functional performance. We don’t want just relaxation; we want engagement in life. The way that Quickshifts uses music allows BBT to address specific behavioral performance abilities. There are albums for attention, for movement, and for regulation. They all use BBT. At any particular time, one functional goal will predominate. I don’t need to induce a meditative state in a child that is working on handwriting. I need calm focus and movement control.
- The avoidance of pure tones means I don’t have to worry about seizure activity in most kids. If a child has frequent seizures, I can be confident that I am not increasing them.
- The choice of instrumentation on Quickshifts albums is often more grounding than other BBT choices. I want kids to feel grounded, not floating on a cloud. That state makes it harder to speak, move, etc. Being jolted into a high level of engagement without grounding isn’t great either. Remember: OT is all about functioning. That happens at that “just right” point of arousal.
- There is a progression of instrumentation and rhythm on many Quickshift albums that guides the brain into more environmental awareness and postural activation, but it is done gently. Getting to an alpha state is a goal, but improving functional performance with less risk of overload is most important to me. I have to give kids a chance to leave our session in a good place.