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AIT is efficient with a total of 10 hours, 20 sessions of 30 minutes each, done 2 times daily over 10 or 12 consecutive days.  Berard AIT is a music therapy that  efficiently corrects hyperacute hearing and other auditory challenges.

AIT  permanently corrects   auditory distortions,   hyperacute hearing or painful  hearing issues common to the diagnoses of ADHD, Anxiety, Auditory Processing Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorders,  Depression,  Dyslexia,  OCD,  PANDAS / PANS, Sensory Processing Disorder, Speech and Language Delay, Vaccine Injury and other diagnoses.

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The Brain, Developmental Gains and Auditory Integration Training

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by Rosalie Seymour, SLP/A, Berard AIT Practitioner

Development Gains and Auditory Integration Training: Why Berard AIT Can Positively Impact Developmental Gains in Children

We learn so much about normal development by studying developmental differences, and difficulties.  It is when we watch a child struggling to speak that we realize what a complex behavior the act of speech is, and how marvelously we are made to have acquired such a skill so easily when we were young, and what a precious gift from God it is! When we see a teenager of 17 years still unable to read despite years of remediation, we may marvel at the intricacies of the brain’s development that allows some preschoolers to read with ease!

When development slows up, or goes wrong somewhere, a group of concerned adults (this may include doctors, pediatricians, neurologists, psychologists, educators, remediators and therapists) may gather to understand the factors involved, and to try and “solve” the problem, to get properly back on track.

Parents, especially, have been the ones who have sought for understanding of these factors.  Parents are usually the only members of the “team” of concerned adults who see the child’s behavior all the way through night and day; - who notice a collection of puzzling differences in these children that extend far beyond public behavior and scholastic success (or the lack of it!).

Social Skills Immaturity

One such common factor is that of poor pragmatic skills: the social skills aspect of communication.  These children almost without fail seem to have difficulty with social tasks that come so easily to others:- turn-taking, give-and-take, topic control or keeping to the topic, how to repair a misunderstanding or miscommunication …..  As children develop, these skills are employed with increasing ease, but these are tasks that never reach a competence level in the child with SLD, autism, or a language deficit.

This lack is what causes these children to be labeled “immature” in reports.  Usually, a child will make rapid progress in this area.  They learn socially acceptable ways.  The SLD or language – delayed child commonly does not acquire those skills as expected.  He seems to lag behind socially.

Impulsivity

This is not the only area of immaturity seen.  These children often are reported to be vague, unfocused, “dreamy”, and find it hard to concentrate for long enough  on one task for their age level.  They are seen to be impulsive, hasty, too quick off the mark, - sometimes to the point of rudeness.  These are aspects of neurological maturity that develop with age.  These children lag behind.

As for the child with autism, one of the distinguishing marks of this disorder is a severe lack of social skills. This lack of even the most basic social skills has led experts and parents to conclude that these children lack any interest in social interaction.  This is frequently a false assumption .  Many people with autism, who later were able to tell their own story, have told how they longed to part of society just like anyone else, but they were unable to “crack the secret code” of how to relate.  (Temple Grandin, Donna Williams, Jim Sinclair).

The Hearing Factor

Another common factor, is that of hearing problems.  An informal survey reveals that around 90% of children with Specific Learning Disability (SLD) have a history of repeated ear infection, upper respiratory infections, and allergies, that affected the ears.  It has also been seen that about 90% of children with autism have had this same kind of medical history.

Medical opinion is divided as to the significance of repeated ear infections in the histories of these children.  This is largely due to the way the terms are defined when doing research on this topic.  We need to understand the basic terms, especially “hearing within normal limits”.

What is “Normal” Hearing?

When an Audiologist tests hearing, she/he is looking for deafness, a hearing loss.  The degree of hearing loss is given in percentages, or in decibels (dB).  Normal hearing is between 0 to 25 dB, by usual standards.  A child or adult can have lost up to 25 dB of sound and still be classed as “hearing within normal limits”.

It must be understood that “hearing within normal limits” does not necessarily mean good hearing at all.  When you block out sound by putting your fingers in your ears, you may be losing as little as 15 dB only.  You know how this sounds, though – one can have blocked out quite a lot of sound, i.e.  lost quite a bit of auditory information.

When an adult loses this much sound, it doesn’t matter too much, because they have a store of knowledge and can “fill in the blanks”.  This is not the same for a child, especially a young child.  They are still learning about words, sounds, what things mean, etc,.

A child is still learning about his auditory environment.  He must still make connections, learn to listen, and take in knowledge that is best done via the ears, and for this he must have an intact auditory system.  He needs a good mechanism that will deliver all the auditory information for processing; - clearly, without distortions.

What About Auditory Processing Disorders (APD or CAPD)?

It is standard practice to test the hearing of the speech- or learning-handicapped child, to see if there is some hearing loss (i.e. greater than 25 dB).  In most cases, the hearing is said to be “within normal limits”.  This result was taken to mean hearing is good.  Not so!

We must also take into consideration that the child may have a Central Auditory Processing Disorder,(CAPD).  The existence of a CAPD can be expected when there are a number of problem behaviors in the area of listening:

  • the child has a slow response to what he hears

  • gets instructions wrong

  • forgets what he’s been told

  • has trouble spelling (phonics)

  • and learns poorly through the auditory channel.

It is as if the ear receives the auditory information, but some interference disturbs the proper, harmonious decoding process that should lead to understanding.  As a result, comprehension of the message may be poor. 

If the hearing system does not perform its task efficiently, if the message is received with distortions in it, the meaning will be lost in places, and the child will have to work very hard to “fill in the gaps”.

  • After a while, the child tires and loses concentration

  • he may give up and his attention wanders

  • perhaps he is still trying to process the question that was asked, instead of being ready to come up with the answer!

  • In a classroom such a child will be accused of daydreaming.  The child has no idea that things sound differently to him than to others – all he sees is that everyone else is coping better than he does, and gets into less trouble than he does. 

  • Discouragement begins to grow. 

  • Added together with frustration, this leads to bad behavior, and he either becomes disruptive in class, or withdraws (disengages).

Auditory Processing Disorders (APD or CAPD) Can Cause Developmental Problems

A difficulty with auditory processing may occur anywhere along the auditory pathway to the brain, even in the way the ear prepares itself to receive the sound; i.e. attention to the signal, or in the way the nerve cells respond to a sound signal.  The system may be so dysfunctional that even a soft sound may elicit a strong response – a sound that doesn’t bother anyone may cause this person acute discomfort.  This is called hyperacusis.

Research has shown that about 40% of autistic people have hyperacusis, but it likely that the percentage is much higher than that.  It is also found that about 40% of learning disabled people suffer from this condition.

Treatment of Auditory Processing Disorders APD is Auditory Integration Training - Berard AIT

Until lately, there hasn’t been much that could be done about this condition of Central Auditory Processing Disorders (CAPD) directly.  The treatments have been supportive, e.g. teach the child to use a diary, check that he’s heard you correctly.  Any textbook about learning problems will have many chapters on what to do for visual problems, but very little about how to help children with CAPD.

Lately, a new option has come to the fore.  A French Ear-Nose- and- Throat specialist, Dr. Guy Berard, developed a method of using electronically modulated music to bring the hearing mechanism to more effective function.  By doing this, one can remove the obstacle to developing good auditory processing.

This method is known as Auditory Integration Training.  It was developed by him to treat his own progressive hearing loss.  His search for a treatment for his condition led him to develop the AUDIOKINETRON.  This electronic device distorts the music that is played through it, with rapid and random switching from low sounds to high sounds.  These sounds are played to the listener over headphones for 20 sessions each lasting half an hour.  At the end of this time, the hearing mechanism has adjusted itself, and has become an efficient transmitter of auditory information.

Dr. Guy Berard likens the effect of this electronic modulation of the music to a type of physical therapy of the hearing mechanism, a sort of aerobic work-out.  It starts out at a medium loudness level, like a moderately-paced exercise session, and then increases in intensity until one reaches the optimum level of intensity.  This level is maintained then for the remainder of the sessions.

Signs of Change During and After Auditory Integration Training

  • During Auditory Integration Training, there are sometimes changes in behavior that can be attributed to fatigue and the person’s reaction to changes in their “perceptual field”. 

  • fatigue is common

  • sometimes headaches occur

  • or a change in sleeping or eating patterns

  • sometimes there is a spurt of challenging behaviors

  • occasionally the child may revert to earlier behaviors

  • these changes are of a temporary nature, and disappear shortly after the end of the course of treatment.

The improvement in the auditory processing mechanism continues to impact on the child’s behavior and learning over the next three months or so, and one commonly sees a slow, but sometimes dramatic, improvement that is sustained. 

The checklists that have been used to chart the behavior improvements are:

  • the Connors Scale

  • Fischer’s Auditory Problems Checklist

  • and the Aberrant Behavior Checklist, and a recent addition

  • the ATEC (Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist)

  • Various neurological measures have also been used, e.g. EEG’s, brainstem measures, and PET scans, as well as urinary peptide analyses. 

  • Parent and professional reports are favorable, with no negative effects being reported from the treatment.

A listening test is done at the beginning, middle, and end of training.  The final graph usually shows some changes, towards a more even graph, with less extreme peaks and valleys evident.  Occasionally there is a minor improvement in hearing threshold.

Georgiana Stehli’s Case: Auditory Integration Training for Autism

In Dr. Berard’s case, his progressive hearing loss was prevented from worsening, and slightly improved, and his tinnitus disappeared.  This effect has remained over 40 years, with occasional repeats of Auditory Integration TrainingHe found the training was also of benefit to children and adults with learning disorders/dyslexia.  Some autistic children with dyslexia were brought to him for help, and so it was that Georgiana Stehli, age 11, was brought to him for help.  Thought to be retarded, diagnosed autistic and dyslexic and psychotic (Bellevue, USA), Georgie’s extreme auditory sensitivity underwent such a profound change during Berard AIT, that she has recovered from autism.  She graduated from college with a magna cum laude, speaks five languages, and is married and the mother of a lovely girl.

Is Auditory Integration Training a "Cure"?

Not all results are this dramatic, but many people have been enabled to live less restricted lives, move out of special education, improve social responsiveness, and often become more confident people after Auditory Integration TrainingBerard AIT is not a cure, and practitioners of this intervention have not hailed it as one.

Where this term has been used, is in the popular media, as an attention-getting device.  This word has also been thrown at practitioners of AIT by various professionals in an attempt to discount the value of Berard method of AIT.  Those with better insight and information regarding Berard AIT understand its value as another part of the tool kit to get the job done.  What is so exciting about Berard AIT is that it is a valuable tool that reaches deeper than we’ve been able to go thus far.  For the moment!  It may be that soon someone else discovers an even better tool.  It is hoped so!

These changes in children with autism, and learning disabilities after AIT, have challenged previously-held beliefs about these conditions.  It does seem that the ear is a significant part of these disorders, and that Berard AIT may be a helpful part of the solution.  There is indeed something that can be done about auditory processing disorders, and it seems it can be done in ten hours of stimulation.

It seems that Berard AIT lays a good foundation for further therapies in problems like speech and language disorders, autism, dyslexia, and a variety of problems of neurological origin.  Auditory training has always been the logical starting point in speech therapy, and remedial education, and AIT seems to be a powerful new intervention to fit in this slot.


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