Here is the third in the series from Dorinne Davis on the importance of sound in comprehension. Dorinne will be continuing this series in future issues. This is a great opportunity for all of us to gain an understanding of the complexities that sounds present for learning and subsequently for making meaning out of our sound driven world. — ED
The Root System refers to one’s sense of hearing, not so much with hearing loss as over responses to how one hears sound. To date, there is only one sound-based therapy that addresses the function of hearing. Auditory Integration Training refers to the sound-based therapy developed by Dr. Guy Berard, who believes that hypersensitivity, distortions, and delays in the auditory signal contribute to inefficient learning. His method retrains the ear and helps it process sounds in a more normal manner, without distortions or delays. It is through one’s ability to process sounds that we remain alert, concentrate, and process information correctly. When hypersensitivity is present, the person hears the sounds around him more intensely than necessary and this creates pain, discomfort, anxiety, distractibility, and/or confusion in comprehension.
Dr. Berard described his method as one of “hearing re-education”. He developed his theory: “the behavior of a human being is greatly conditioned by the way he hears”1. The quality of the perception of sound that one hears is equal to the behavior of the individual. His method uses an audiogram, a graph representing the person’s hearing threshold level, or the smallest sound that the person hears.
Although typically measuring hearing loss, Dr. Bernard’s audiogram, often identifies “better than normal” hearing sensitivities. This is referred to as a “Hearing Sensitivity Audiogram”. This test measures hearing threshold levels, Uncomfortable Listening Levels, middle ear functioning and the acoustic reflex muscle. It is this reflex muscle that controls the loudness of sound transferring to the cochlea, which then sends sound to the brain.
Research has demonstrated that Auditory Integration Training retrains this muscle2.
The muscle helps attenuate the low frequency sounds entering the cochlea so that the high frequency sounds can be heard. If this muscle reflex works at a too soft level, then the appropriate levels of loudness are not reaching the cochlea. Distortions may result that impact the processing of sound. The stapedius muscle attenuates loud, abrupt sound and if it is not attenuated properly, the incoming sound may be painful to tolerate or difficult to process.
Auditory Integration Training introduces specially chosen music through a device that modulates the sound and filters specific frequencies. There are two approved devices: the Audiokinetron and the Earducator®. The program includes 10 continuous days of listening, one half hour in the morning and one half hour in the afternoon separated by no less than 3 hours. There is an initial assessment, a mid audiogram, and a final assessment. Typically the program is used with children ages 3 and up.
Dr. Bernard’s method retrains a disorganized auditory system. By improving the acoustic reflex, the brain has less sensory overload. Once the acoustic reflex is retrained, the central nervous system has a chance to reorganize the circuits sending information to the brain and at the brain level. By improving the system, the listener improves over all and learning is easier.
Additional benefits of Auditory Integration Training are: 1) stimulation of the vestibular section of the inner ear–one’s balance and coordination center, 2) increased blood flow to the auditory centers in the brain, 3) stimulation of new, “cleaner” sound messages to the brain, and 4) stimulation of surrounding brain centers such as speech, language, and motor planning.
AIT is strengthening a weak muscle and in turn helps make structural changes and functional improvement within the central auditory nervous system. The muscle is being regularly exercised by the length of the program and is challenged through the intensity levels presented to it.
Some people with hypersensitivity, actually react as hyposensitive because they have blocked out the overstimulation and turned off the sound. If noises block out the important needed sound cues, then a person may respond by creating an internal wall that block out these cues. They do not have the skills to determine what is important to specifically tune in to. They respond to the internal world and block out the external world. This impedes learning.
One’s hearing is always working. If we mentally have been unable to tune out the unwanted sounds, our bodies tend to over-react or turn off the sound. This hearing ability then, can be seen by some as a psychological response to life and the environment-hence Dr. Bernard’s theory that “hearing equals behavior”. To maximize one’s ability to learn, it is important to receive the incoming sound message accurately. With Auditory Integration Training, the psychological response and the physical response are in better balance so that the incoming message is clearer and learning can take place more easily.
The Root system of The Tree of Sound Enhancement Therapy incorporates therapies for changing hearing. If the individual has weaknesses at this level, yet the higher levels on The Tree are addressed first, maximal learning will not occur because the foundational function of hearing was not solidly in place. When the DETP indicates the need for Auditory Integration Training, it is important to receive this therapy before addressing the more academic skills.
1 Berard, Guy. “Hearing Equals Behavior”, Georgiana Foundation, Pre-publication issue, 1992:1.
2 Davis, D S. “Sound Bodies through Sound Therapy”, Kalco Publishing, LLC, Landing, NJ, 2004:168.
Dorinnes book Sound Bodies through Sound Therapy is available through amazon.com
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