What is AIT?
Auditory Integration Training (AIT) is a technique used to treat people with auditory processing problems. It was developed by a French medical doctor, Guy Berard of Annecy, France. Doctor Berard believes that auditory processing problems are caused by hypersensitive hearing. For example, he believes that if you are hypersensitive to sound frequencies at 2000 and 8000 Hz, but heard all other frequencies at normal levels, distortions in how you perceive the world around you would occur. Doctor Berard and his technique gained worldwide fame in 1990 with the publication of Annabel Stehli’s biography of her daughter Georgie, (“The Sound of a Miracle”) Ms. Stehli described how her severely autistic daughter, Georgie, had shed most, if not all of her autistic behaviors following a course of 20 AIT treatments in Doctor Berard’s clinic.
Therapists at Points of Stillness clinic consider AIT to be a form of sensory integration treatment that uses sound vibration to stimulate brain processing. In the past 20 years there has been much research to indicate that many individuals have sensory dysfunctions in one or more areas including their senses of touch, movement, smell, taste, hearing and vision. These senses might be hypersensitive and/or hyposensitive to stimulation. The senses facilitate our understanding of the world and enhance skill development. Sensory processing problems can impact on mastery of ﬁne and gross motor skills and social/emotional development.
In studies, differences have been found between those individuals who received AIT and those who received a placebo. Results indicate that those who receive AIT demonstrate increased attention, auditory memory, articulation, and comprehension and decreased self-stimulatory behaviors, impulsivity, distractibility and echolalic speech.
Auditory integration training involves listening to speciﬁcally selected compact discs that are processed through a machine that separates the sound frequencies and alters the low and high sound frequencies at random intervals. This distortion and randomization of the sounds massages the inner ear and the vestibular-cochlear mechanism located in the inner ear.
Therefore, many children who have vestibular based issues respond especially well to this. There are many theories as to why AIT works. Since language develops with hearing, Guy Berard focuses on the language system. While the language system of the brain is deﬁnitely important, it is important to know that the movement receptors are in the middle ear and they are responsive to vibration. The movement system has tremendous effect on total brain.
Areas of Improvement Noted During and Following AIT
Receptive and expressive language
Speed of processing for motor skill and language
Praxis, which is composed of the following:
1) Planning how to carry it out
2) Sequencing and timing the tasks
Affect, including facial expression and responsiveness
Gravitational security- decreased fear of movement
Modulation or ability to stay calm in varied environments
Decreased auditory hypersensitivity and fear of noises
Here is a link to a published article on Auditory Integration Training. It was published by Sally S. Brockett (1), Nancy K. Lawton-Shirley (2) and Judith Giencke Kimball (3)
Berard Auditory Integration Training: Behavior Changes Related
to Sensory Modulation
1IDEA Training Center (Innovative Developments for Educational Achievement, Inc.), North Haven, CT, USA. 2Points of Stillness, LLC, USA.
3Department of Occupational Therapy, University of New England, Portland, ME, USA.