I have begun to work with a product called "Calming Rhythms" from REI Institute. Calming Rhythms is a CD with three 20-minute pieces of music/alpha-rhythms that are played for a calming affect. Jeff Strong, the head of REI, has tested the product on children with autism and found it to be quite effective, but with a few occasional side-effects - acting out behaviors in some children.
To get a feel for the therapy, I tried it out on myself. I tried it under 3 conditions:
1. At night before bed for 2-3 nights. This is per the instructions from the REI site. I slept deeply, awoke with deep calm and felt like I could handle anything.
2: During the day, during very stressful occasions. I didn't notice anything while it was playing, but within 30 minutes, I was very cranky, and snapped at someone. Later, I became even more irritable. Was it the music or the stressful situation? I am typically very easy-going and handle stress well. The next morning, I was calm and happy.
3. Several times for a few minutes throughout the day under stress-free conditions (on a Friday while treating children in the clinic) . Seemed fine at the time, and all weekend I've had a wonderful sense of calm and perspective as I deal with another stressful situation.
My conclusions: use it when the client is in a good mental state for just a few minutes at a time or at bedtime.
One of my clients,, Tommy, has what appears to be an undiagnosed case of ADHD. I am doing 15-20 minutes of Interactive Metronome (IM) with him once a week as part of his OT session. Since the IM can be very arousing, I thought to counter it with the Calming Rhythms. Jeff Strong told me that other therapists are using this same approach. I gave Tommy's mom the CD and instructions and suggested she try it at night over the weekend. I warned her to watch out for acting-out behaviors. Can't wait to hear how he did.
I think that this will be a good option for my hyperactive kids. By the way, if you want to try it, Jeff Strong offers a free demo download at his site.
4/18/08 Update: 3 parents tried the Calming Rhythms CD for 10 minutes just before bedtime for a few nights. One boy made noticeable decrease in hyperactivity. A second mom reported no change. The third boy, Tommy, liked the rhythms, however, his mom reported that he got up in bed and danced to them ... not exactly what we were hoping for ... but she planned to try it for another night or two and report back.