The Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) is a music based program used to promote regulation, social engagement and resiliency. It focuses on the prosody of the human voice to help calm the child’s nervous system, reduce auditory sensitivities and foster improvement in one’s ability to listen, connect and socialize with others.
The SSP is based on the Polyvagal Theory proposed by Dr. Stephen Porges, which has documented parallels between dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) — the system that controls the fight-flight-freeze system. The theory proposes that the system functions like a platform that can facilitate or inhibit various types of behavior from spontaneous social interactions to aggressive/oppositional behaviors to shutdown (freeze responses). Essentially, our ability to listen depends on our ANS state. If we cannot regulate our physiological state, we cannot listen, socialize and connect with others.
The music is specifically designed to manipulate the muscles of the middle ear, so that the muscles are strong and flexible. This improves the child’s ability to attune to the higher frequency sounds of the human voice which are calming and less so on the lower frequency sounds of threat and danger (e.g. background noise). By focusing on the prosody of the human voice, the SSP music via stimulation of the Vagus nerve, helps to shift the child’s ANS state from a heightened, defensive state to a calm, responsive and socially engaged state.
- Regulation and Attention
- Auditory processing (listening)
- Social awareness and social engagement
- Social Problem-Solving
- Emotional expression