Sound stimulation listening training has produced consistent dramatic breakthroughs in communication, language, movement, socialization, academics, and eye contact for children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Improvements can occur for those with foundational, developmental, adequate, and proficient competencies.
A dozen different Auditory Therapies have developed in the past two decades following on the heels of the Tomatis Method, the originating Auditory Therapy first used in the US thirty years ago. Each of the Auditory Therapies provides varying degrees of intensity, content, length of training, type of assessment, mode and location of delivery, and levels of success. Costs range from hundreds to thousands of dollars and lengths range from weeks to months and years. All acknowledge their origins in the pioneering work of Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis (1920 – 2001), a French ear nose throat physician who discovered a systematized training method with technology as its base that used sound as a therapeutic and educational intervention. Tomatis also discovered the following:
Hearing is different from listening. Hearing is the passive reception of sound, and listening is the active, motivated tuning in and tuning out at choice. Good listening results in well-organized auditory processing and vestibular control of information.
Listening plays the fundamental role in processing all language information, and hence all information learned through language.
The motivational and emotional need for communication begins with listening.
One role of the auditory system is to connect or relate self to self, others, and environment.
The brain needs sound energy to enable the thinking processes and the development of intelligences.
Sound stimulation technology can be used as a tool by professionals with different backgrounds to assist people of all ages to improve their listening.
Listening is a skill that can be both lost and recovered.
Poor listening can begin at any age and for any number of reasons.
An increasing number of professionals work with one or more of the now developed methods, machines, software, and/or music discs that comprise the evolving Field of Sound Stimulation Listening Training to provide Auditory Therapies. The professionals are trained, certified / licensed to work with one or more listening technologies for the purposes of correcting or enhancing the following:
Neuro-developmental maturation (of speech, language, motor skills, etc.)
Communication skills (language-based, social, and vocational applications)
Listening to the body, movement in 3-D space, and motor control
School learning skills and abilities
Attention and the organization of behavior
Social relationships and increasing engagement
Listening with appropriate sound sensitivity level
Auditory Therapies train the ear to better attend to, locate in space, distinguish between, and organize sounds of language, music, and noise. They decrease distortion of this analysis so that incoming information is not confusing and can establish a foundation for learning. Changes in processing translate into improvements in academic performance, self esteem, and emotional intelligence.
The objectives for Auditory Therapy are based in improving at least the following functional capabilities of the ear, which can be altered at any age:
Ability to select/distinguish differences and the direction of the differences between sounds. Sequenced pure tones are presented to both the right and left ears through air and bone conduction. This ability is linked to reading, letter and number confusion, sequencing problems, self-confidence, music ability, memory, and lack of access to clear information about one's past experiences. Regarding reading, poor sound distinction makes it difficult to transform sounds into symbols and symbols into sounds and to see relationships between words that have similar sounds. On one end of this ability spectrum is someone with a partially or totally closed (non-distinguishing) ear, who cannot discriminate between some or all sounds. On the other end is someone who can distinguish between isolated individual sounds.
Ability to consistently attend to incoming sounds more easily than one's own thoughts and to tune out distractions. This ability is related to problems with attention span, memory, behavior, following instructions, relationships with others.
Ability to process information similarly with both ears. This relates to one's ease with comprehending incoming information, sense of organization, and rhythm.
Ability to identify the source of direction where sounds originate. As tones are presented to the right and left ears through air and bone conduction, the person must identify the origin of the source of the sound. This ability is related to problems with reading processing, sequencing, confusion of left and right, and spatial organization.
Ability to process information so that highly energizing consonant and overtone sounds are gradually more easily perceived than lower frequency sounds when developing language, whereas lower frequency sounds are enhanced for motor development. Ideal listening curves were established for good musical and linguistic ears by Tomatis. This relates to ease of comprehending incoming information, one's musical ear, voice quality and clarity, speech clarity, thought clarity, creativity, level of energy, and sense of well being.
Individuals listen from 5 minutes to two to two and one-half hours each day, depending on the specific Auditory Therapy protocol, to unfiltered and/or filtered music and voice that is either preprocessed on a disc or then processed through equipment or software and delivered through earphones with air conduction or with bone and air conduction. While a minimal program typically occurs over several weeks, longer programs are recommended until full potential is achieved. Auditory Therapy basically trains or conditions the ear until the individual is capable of retaining the benefits without the training.