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Auditory Integration Training

An Option for Behavior Modification Training

by Saroj Madan, M.S. & Neel Madan, M.D.

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Let's Hear It For Good Behavior

The principles of Auditory Integration Training (AIT) are simple and can be described as physical therapy for the ear. AIT is a method of correcting the root cause of many learning disabilities. Hypersensitivity, distortions, and delays in the auditory signals contribute to inefficient learning. AIT is a method of retraining the ear to listen and to process sounds in a more normal manner, without distortions and delays. How we listen and process sounds affects our alertness, attention span, concentration, information processing, and the way we express ourselves, both verbally and in writing. When the listening process is not working properly, it can interfere with our entire system and its ability to function.

Hearing and listening are two quite different tasks. You may have excellent hearing acuity (i.e. hearing within the normal range), but have an inaccurate perception of what is going on around you. Faulty teaming of the ears occurs when both ears are not working together. Those with faulty teaming of the ears as well as those with hyperacute hearing and/or sound sensitivities know that these problems can interfere with the ability to work and play efficiently and comfortably, and may even cause physical discomfort and pain.

Hyperacusis and imbalances in hearing between the ears may lead to a host of behavior and learning problems as well as have a negative impact on personal relationships.

An intense program of sound stimulation varying in pitch and intensity (using music and headphones), activates the middle and inner ear which then transmits sound to the brain via the auditory nerve. The sound stimulation improves aural flexibility and enhances the transmission of sound to the brain. In the auditory system, going from the eardrum to the brain cells, concise zones exist corresponding to low-pitched and to high-pitched tones. These parts are not anatomically similar on the eardrum, on the cochlea, and perhaps in the brain itself. If one or the other of these areas of the auditory system is stimulated by certain programmed alternating sounds, the same identical result as that obtained by mobilization of the elbow is achieved.

When an individual is hypersensitive to an intensity (volume) and/or frequency (pitch), the auditory system can shut down. The individual avoids certain sounds, places and situations. This person may cover his/her ears, "tune out," or display unusual or socially inappropriate behavior. Similarly, individuals who hear poorly at certain frequencies or who hear constant ringing in their ears, can begin to display withdrawn, aggressive or different behavior in order to deal with their hearing disorder.

There are areas and cells of the brain stimulated by different frequencies and/or intensities. If these sounds are not entering the system appropriately, the brain cells will not be stimulated properly. This will affect the processing of sensory input. With incorrect input, an individual will have incorrect output and faulty feedback. When an individual has confused pitch relationships, high/low pitches are not processed correctly. The same word spoken by someone with a high pitched voice will sound different when spoken in a low pitched voice. Children, in particular, can become confused, and performance may vary depending on the pitch of the voice.

All of these auditory problems contribute to cognitive fatigue and variable performance that is so common among children with learning disabilities and AD(H)D, These children use much energy trying to decode or translate the scrambled and distorted messages they receive. Their performance will depend upon the amount of energy, interest, and motivation they have at a given times. Other variables such as voice quality, pitch, and rate of speech delivery of the speaker, background noises, and visual cues also impact the performances of these children.

Because of the strong contribution of hearing to receptive and expressive abilities, those individuals who exhibit language/learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders (ADD), dyslexia, pervasive developmental delays (PDD), autism, and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) may be excellent candidates for AIT.

AIT is a technique to enhance the efficiency and normalize the auditory reception system (ear and brain) by reducing hypersensitivity and reducing hearing peaks and troughs as measured on an audiogram. This will improve the sensory input/output and feedback systems. Indirectly this will also improve listening, attending, cognitive abilities, behavior, and social skills.

Auditory Abnormalities (often not picked up in a routine screening) may include:

       greenball.jpg (1100 bytes)  Distortions caused by all frequencies not being heard with equal intensity

       greenball.jpg (1100 bytes)  Problems in response timing and/or retention of sounds

       greenball.jpg (1100 bytes)  Unusual level of fatigue from the task of listening

       greenball.jpg (1100 bytes)  Pain or discomfort from everyday sounds

       greenball.jpg (1100 bytes)  Difficulty identifying differences between frequencies

       greenball.jpg (1100 bytes)  Problems with laterality, which may cause timing complications in the brain

Although each individual is different, and the responses to the training process will vary from one person to another, the following benefits have been observed clinically.

Increased/Improved

       greenball.jpg (1100 bytes)  Attention

       greenball.jpg (1100 bytes)  Auditory memory

       greenball.jpg (1100 bytes)  Auditory comprehension

       greenball.jpg (1100 bytes)  Articulation

       greenball.jpg (1100 bytes)  Independent living skills

       greenball.jpg (1100 bytes)  Interest in communication

       greenball.jpg (1100 bytes)  Eye contact

       greenball.jpg (1100 bytes)  Social interaction

     

Reduced

       greenball.jpg (1100 bytes)  Hypersensitivity to sounds

       greenball.jpg (1100 bytes)  Irritability, agitation

       greenball.jpg (1100 bytes)  Self-stimulatory behaviors

       greenball.jpg (1100 bytes)  Impulsivity & restlessness

       greenball.jpg (1100 bytes)  Distractibility

       greenball.jpg (1100 bytes)  Echolalia

       greenball.jpg (1100 bytes)  Preseverative behaviors

       greenball.jpg (1100 bytes)  Lethargy

Treatment

The treatment consist of twenty half-hour sessions-two sessions each day with a minimum of three hours between each session. During these sessions, an individual will listen to music that is modulated by an electronic device called the AudioKinetron Ears Education and Retraining System (EERS). Various compact discs are selected containing music determined to be the best for the person receiving the training.

This music is then played on a standard compact disc player and fed through the AudioKinetron machine which randomizes the sounds between high and low frequencies as well as between strong and soft volumes. Depending on an individual's particular auditory profile, filters are used to eliminate certain frequencies at which hearing is hyper acute and painful or hypo acute. This altered music is then heard through a standard pair of headphones. Changes in behavior and language may occur at any time after the first session and up yo six months from the training.

Possible Side Effects

There is no evidence at this time to indicate that the AIT method is harmful. This is mainly due to the fact that the therapy only involves listening to modulated music. Some individuals experience side effects during and after the treatment such as sleep and/or eating disturbances, mood swings, headaches, nausea, aggression, and hyperactivity. Among these, however, the most common reaction is simply fatigue. These reactions usually disappear by the end of the 10 day sessions.

On-Site Groups

Arrangements can be made to provide services at your site for group of three or more.

Sound Advice

 Avoid wearing headphones to listen to music as the ear cannot defend itself against loud sounds. When energy (music) is placed in a short narrow tube (the ear canal), it causes higher pressure. This pressure causes the ear drum, middle ear and outer ear to work excessively.