Since our first clinical study in 1994, we have focused on how to reduce anxiety and induce calm. For ten years our research examined children and adults on the autism spectrum. This population proved to be an excellent anxiety-based arena for two reasons:
1. People with autism often have a lot of anxiety. And anxiety can rule much of their behavior. A child may tantrum when asked to enter a noisy, stimulating environment like a restaurant or shopping mall (or school lunchroom) or an adult may react aggressively when sharing mealtime with others.
Observing anxiety in people with autism is easy and noticing changes, however small, becomes simple. The cessation of crying in a tantrumming child or halting of aggressive behavior in an over-stimulated adult is an obvious measure of a reduction in anxiety.
2. Because autism is characterized by an inability to socially engage in an appropriate manner or an inability to communicate wants or needs, many people with autism have little to no awareness that some music (or other intervention) is going to be calming. And if they have such awareness, many have no idea how to self-regulate to calm on command.
This effectively removes the placebo effect. And because we are not using self-observed changes in anxiety, but instead use behavioral measures, we further remove any effects of the participants' expectation from the studies. Either a tantrum stopped or it didn't.
Our first study was conducted in a public school setting with children between 6 and 12 years old. In this study we tracked immediate anxiety reducing effects as well as long-term changes in anxiety levels. In other words, we wanted to see if listening to REI Rhythms would reduce anxiety as it happened (ending a tantrum, for example) and whether any residual calming effect would result in changes of overall behavior. Immediate calming effects were significant. Nearly all the participants were calmed most of the time. The average frequency of time calmed by the recordings was 86.4%.
As far as overall changes in anxiety levels, we also saw significant changes as an average based on the pre and post tests. In the pre-test, average anxiety was listed at 82 on a 100 point scale. Anxiety on average after the study was reduced to 38 on a 100 point scale. This represents a significant reduction in anxiety over this 8-week period when the REI Rhythms were played quietly in the background.
Follow-up studies with autism as well as other conditions such as Anxiety Disorders, Attention Deficit Disorders, and Sleep Disorders, showed similar reductions in anxiety while listening to REI music.
For example, a study conducted in a residential facility for adults with severe autism showed significant changes in anxiety levels both facility-wide and in individual behavior.
One resident was extremely aggressive before the study began, often injuring other residents or the staff. Before the study, incidents were reported several times per week. Within two weeks of beginning using the REI recording, his aggressive outbursts virtually stopped. And they remained rare for the entire study period and extended follow-up of 6 months.
In another recent study, children within a public school showed significant reduction in anxiety-based behaviors while listening to REI rhythms. This study followed 10 students and showed reductions in behaviors in the following areas:
• Generalized anxiety
• Emotional outbursts
• Aggressive behaviors
• Self-stimulatory behaviors
• Sound sensitivity
As the study states: Anxiety reduction can take many forms, especially with the large variation of symptomatic behaviors and characteristics present in children on the autism spectrum.
Everyone's stress and anxiety are different. Some people just need a way to slow down to relieve the stress of the day while others might experience a deeper-seated anxiety. BSR's music-selection algorithms coupled with our extensive research means that you get the right level of anxiety or stress-reducing music for your needs.
Simply select the Calm category upon logging into Brain Shift Radio and choose the intensity level for your stress-reducing needs. We'll choose the music for you. Then as you give us feedback about your experiences with our choices, we'll refine the mixes to offer better results over time.
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Copyright 2020 by Strong Institute, Inc.