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Case StudySSPAutismSocial and Communication Difficulties

Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) supports child with autism in increasing regulation and openness  

🕑 3 minutes read
Posted November 29, 2023

The information presented in this case study was submitted by the identified provider and reviewed by the Unyte Clinical Team. Modifications to the text have been made solely for the purpose of enhancing comprehension and clarity for the reader’s benefit, and were carefully applied while ensuring the accuracy and integrity of the original submission. Unyte Health makes every effort to use updated terms and inclusive language, this case study retains the author’s original descriptions to be most sensitive to the client’s identity and preferences.


About the Provider

Name: Jennifer Radonicich
Disciplines/credentials: Occupational therapist (OT)
Modalities: Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP), Sensory Integration, Floortime, Reflex Integration


Client Background

Name: John (pseudonym)
Age and Gender: 10-year-old boy
Program Delivered: Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) Core (Hours 1-5); Balance (Hour 1)

John presented with autism and had become very angry over the past year, struggling to regulate himself. He had seen his OT, Jennifer Radonicich, from the age of four to eight and completed various sensory motor strategies to improve his regulation, motor and play skills. 

John lives with his parents and sister in a supportive home. His mother reached out to seek support to address his anger, which had caused difficulties in his school environment. The goal was to address John’s regulation skills.


Implementation of the Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP)

The SSP was delivered through a hybrid delivery model: he first listened to the SSP remotely alongside provider Jennifer Radonicich, then completed the remainder of the program at home with his family. His SSP listening sessions tended to be five minutes per day, completed over a four-month period. John used his already established calming strategies, such as weighted items and a sensory swing, when needed. 

Jennifer and John’s mother met every two weeks to review any concerns and discuss additional strategies as needed. In-person OT sessions resumed after he completed the five hours of SSP Core. Play therapy was also used to address emotional issues that may have arisen.

Response

Jennifer shared that John had improved his ability to communicate his feelings, which resulted in improved regulation and social interactions at school and beyond. His parents also reported improved routine transitions and flexibility in accepting other people’s perspectives.

By the end of the SSP Core, John initiated a conversation with his parents that seemed to explain his increase in anger over the previous year. John shared that he had felt rejected by a friend last year. He attempted to regain the friendship, but the peer unfortunately no longer wanted to have a friendship with John. This had been difficult for him to accept.

Discussion

John had benefited from auditory therapy in the past, so it was expected that he would like the SSP music. His family found it easy to integrate the SSP into their routine, and found the virtual meetings to be helpful in interpreting changes and providing strategies when needed. After completing SSP Core, John started SSP Balance. He enjoys starting his day with the SSP. 

“I was able to feel confident in the communication between myself and the client as I had previous experience working with them,” Jennifer said. “If I am still developing a rapport with a family, then I would have done more remote listening sessions to ensure proper follow-through.” 

“The Safe and Sound Protocol was easy to implement with my son. He loved the music and reminded me when it was time to listen to it,” John’s mother said. “Through the process, we noticed he became less reactive and observed more introspection. He has become more relaxed and has improved his self-regulation in social situations. We have also noticed that he is more tolerant of sounds that, prior to SSP, he would have found upsetting. Overall, my son is calmer and more open and willing to participate in his therapies.”

Discover the Safe and Sound Protocol

Developed by Dr. Stephen Porges, the SSP is a non-invasive acoustic vagus nerve stimulator that helps clients connect with themselves, others, and the world from a foundation of physiological safety.

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