Auditory Integration Training ( AIT ) is an educational intervention that efficiently retrains the auditory system and repairs any processing disorders. It is a non-invasive treatment designed to alleviate hearing discomfort, particularly hyperacusis (painful hearing). It aims to address the sensory problems such as hearing distortions and sensory processing anomalies, which may be the cause of discomfort and confusion in persons suffering from learning disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders. These hypersensitivities can interfere with attention, comprehension and the ability to learn.
Dr. Guy Berard, of France developed AIT as a procedure to efficiently retrain a disorganized auditory system. During his 40 plus year career, he treated over 8,000 patients and determined that if hypersensitivity to sound and hearing distortions are present, the information is not processed correctly, and can lead to inefficient learning. This can produce many symptoms of confusion and mania. A fact often overlooked is that Dr. Berard's primary work with AIT was for clinical depression and suicidal tendencies in adults. His work with autism came later and during recent times, has overshadowed his remarkable results with the adult population for issues of severe anxiety.
What is AIT - DAA?
Digital Auditory Aerobics is a sound and music therapy that consists of randomly modulated and filtered music played through headphones for half an hour, twice a day, for ten days. The FDA permits the following statement: Auditory Integration Training remediates impairments in auditory discrimination (sound sensitivity and auditory distortion) associated with autism, learning disabilities, and related disorders - ADD, ADHD, and Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD).
How does it work?
Research confirms that Berard AIT retrains the acoustical reflex (stapedius) muscle of the inner ear. How we listen to and process auditory information and sound affects our alertness, concentration, attention span, information processing, and the way we express ourselves, verbally and in writing. When the listening process is not integrated, it can interfere with our entire system and our ability to function optimally in all areas of life.
What could have caused my problem?
There can be a number of causes resulting in damage to auditory processing and thereby produce sound sensitivity, hypo or hypersensitive hearing or hearing distortions in people of all ages. Some possible causes include birth trauma, vaccine damage, frequent ear infections, overuse of antibiotics, heavy metal toxicity, exposure to loud noises, head injury, brain injury, stroke, use of ototoxic (side effects of chemical drugs, some commonly used) medications, and other chemical and environmental factors.
How can AIT/DAA benefit my child (or me)?
Typical reports for children include improvements in socialization skills, expressive language, sleeping, and academic performance and a reduction in the need for medication. Adults generally report decreased tension levels and depression and increased focus and concentration.
How do I know if my child or I need AIT?
Here are checklists for children and parents to make a basic assessment:
Checklist for Children
Has a history of hearing loss.
Does not learn well through use of the auditory channel.
Has a history of ear infection(s).
Cannot always relate what is heard to what is seen.
Frequently misunderstands what is said.
Forgets what is said in a few minutes.
Daydreams -- attention drifts -- not with it at times.
Experiences problems with sound discrimination.
Notices sounds before others do.
Constant humming or audible self-talk.
Does not comprehend many words, not grasping verbal concepts appropriate for age/grade level.
Is considered to have autism, dyslexia, pervasive developmental disorder, Central Auditory Processing Disorder, Asperger's Syndrome or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Does not pay attention (listen) to instruction 50% or more of the time.
Demonstrates below average performance in one or more academic area(s).
Has difficulty following verbal directions -- often necessary to repeat instructions.
Cannot attend to auditory stimuli for more than a few seconds.
Says "Huh?" and "What?" at least five or more times per day.
Has a short attention span.
Easily distracted by background noise.
Has "startle" response to sudden sound or movement.
Gives unusual descriptions of sounds, auditory stimulation or sensation.
Needs frequent "quiet time" to regain mental energy and composure.
Has a language problem (morphology, syntax, vocabulary, phonology).
Has an articulation (phonology) problem.
Checklist for Adults
have a history of hearing loss.
have difficulty following verbal directions and/or often request that verbal instructions be repeated.
rely on lip-reading, gesture, context -- or just plain guessing -- to understand what is being said. say "Huh?" and "What?" at least five or more times per day.
experience problems with sound discrimination.
give unusual descriptions of auditory stimulation or sensation.
need frequent "quiet time" to regain mental energy and composure.
am often negative or depressed without identifiable cause.
experience growing fatigue as the day progresses.
have difficulty taking notes during speech or lecture.
notice that sounds upset or agitate me but not others.
frequently notice sounds that others do not hear.
am considered to be dyslexic.
have problems relating an entire story.
have problems with directions, such as left and right.
need constant activity or visual stimuli.
suffer from tinnitis (ringing or other sound in the ear).
experience overriding stress over things inconsequential to others.
have feelings of fragmentation and loss of orientation throughout the day.
engage in excessive internal arguing: "What to do about . . .," "Why am I the way I am?", "Why did I do that?", etc.
have a history of ear infection(s).
have difficulty following conversations.
frequently misunderstand what is said.
am easily distracted by background noise
have "startle" responses to sudden sound or movement.
engage in constant humming or audible self-talk.
can be irritable or picky "by nature".
have difficulty organizing the day.
have difficulty keeping track of a sequence of actions.
experience painful discomfort with sounds that others do not find troublesome.
frequently notice sounds before others do.
can learn a foreign language through reading and writing, but have difficulty learning a foreign language by listening to conversation.
am unable to sing on key.
have problems with balance, equilibrium or coordination.
have a strong preference for sitting in a corner or next to a wall.
try theories, groups, seminars and workshops one after another in an effort to find physical and mental health.
have problems with sleep.
have frequent compulsive thoughts and feelings.
avoid social contact or interaction.
What is the procedure?
We schedule AIT appointments over the course of two weeks, two appointments per day, Monday through Friday of each week. There needs to be a minimum 3 hour gap between the appointments. Generally morning and afternoon appointments seem to work better, especially for children.
How are you different from other AIT practitioners?
Over the years, our method of AIT evolved to include the use of some of the other modalities employed at Holistic Health. We've found that this greatly enhances the efficacy of the treatment, and often, improvements are reported before the end of the treatment, though we tell all patients that results may not be seen for some time, weeks to even months, after the treatment. For example, J.G.'s mother reported recently that her son no longer feared riding in the elevator on the 7the day of the treatment; whereas, prior to that time, he was terrified of it, and would ask her to pick him up. This six year old boy insisted on riding the elevator each time after that.
What do you do differently?
In addition to the actual training of listening to the modulated music, filtered or not depending on the audiogram results, through special, high quality headphones, we include the following three modifications:
1) We have devised a way to balance and energize the entire acupuncture meridian system using magnets, and this is a good companion to AIT. Various sizes and strengths of magnets are attached to the body at specific locations, while the patient is relaxing during the AIT training. These are removed at the end of the treatment. Magnet therapy is a valid field on its own, and here we utilize it effectively to cleanse and rejuvenate the whole body, while giving the brain its AIT workout. There is a small additional fee for this service.
2) A specially formulated homeopathic medicine, particularly made for the patient with regard to his or her sound sensitivities is offered FREE.
3) If the patient is a child, a parent, usually the mother, is offered the entire AIT training for FREE, if the child does not get any filters. If the parent wants to be treated properly for her or his conditions, there would be a nominal charge for the two required audiograms, but the entire AIT training is still FREE. The reason we offer the entire AIT session for free for the parent is twofold: first, it helps the child relax and bond with the parent, as they often do the treatment together (in the case of no filters); second, the parent, whether or not he or she has any significant auditory processing issues, is often exhausted and would benefit from the relaxing as well as therapeutic effects of AIT. This is a gift to the parent from Dr. Partha, who is herself a mother of a child with autism, and understands well the stress of other parents.