This blog has been designed to help people learn about effective, simple treatments for attention deficit disorder, autism, auditory processing disorders, dyslexia, and even challenges learning a new language.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

About Auditory Integration Therapy - a brief history

Auditory Integration Therapy is not a new therapy. Many therapies don't become "mainstream" until they've been around for decades, because it takes that long for the research to prove it works, and for people to begin to hear about it, spread the word, and try it for themselves.

AIT has been around since the 1950's, when Alfred Tomatis developed the original system to treat hearing irregularities common to children with autism. That original therapy (still in use today) used recorded music and the recorded voice of the mother, since Dr. Tomatis felt that the hearing had not developed properly when the infant was in the womb. His patients listen to this music through headphones for two hours per day, for a minimum of three weeks at a time, and they repeat this treatment frequently. Some of the theory behind this original therapy was sound, while other parts were not. So one of Tomatis's students, Guy Berard, took the basic therapy and improved upon it.

Dr. Berard spent 20 years researching and refining his work, and developed a "perfect" protocol. His therapy technique involves listening to music that jumps around through all the frequencies over a range of decibels for one-half hour, twice a day, for ten days. This therapy forces the ear to work harder than it does normally, exercising the inner ear, so that it becomes more efficient at processing sound quickly.

In the late 1970's, Annabel Stehli's daughter, Georgie, recovered from extremely hypersensitive hearing following treatment with Dr. Berard. Annabel then began her life's work to spread the word about Auditory Integration Therapy. Because Georgie had been diagnosed with autism, AIT's introduction was made to the autism world.

It is now recognised that AIT can help a wide range of people with a variety of hearing-related problems. It helps people with autism, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, some people with anxiety disorders (where there is a connection to hypersensitive hearing) and some forms of depression. It also helps people who are struggling with language development -- either learning a 2nd language or the otherwise typically developing "late talker".

Recent developments in auditory integration therapies have brought about home-based versions of AIT. While these seem to be effective to some extent, the results are not as successful as Berard's AIT, nor is there research proving effectiveness yet. More on this in "How AIT works."

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