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10.12) other tinnitus treatments: Auditory Integration Training (AIT)


This article is from the Tinnitus FAQ, by markb@cccd.edu (Mark Bixby) with numerous contributions by others.

10.12) other tinnitus treatments: Auditory Integration Training (AIT)

Auditory Integration Training (AIT) was originally developed by a
French doctor named Alfred Tomatis. Another French doctor who was
seeking a cure for his tinnitus (the crickets he kept hearing
everywhere he went) received Dr. Tomatis's training. Dr. Guy Berard
was so fascinated by the cure that he studied it and modified the
treatment. The original Tomatis auditory training is still available
today. It involves many hours of listening therapy, sometimes on the
magnitude of hundreds of hours of therapy. (See sound therapy, below.)

Dr. Berard's auditory training method is ten total hours of treatment.
The treatment involves listening to music that has been altered such
that the high frequencies and low frequencies are randomly shifted in
and out. The sessions are 30 minutes in length given twice a day
(treatments separated by four hours) for 10 days. Some practictioners
opt to run the program in two consecutive weekday blocks while others
run the program through the weekend. The music ranges from Gordon
Lightfoot to reggae. It sounds distorted.

The Berard method of AIT is described in Dr. Guy Berard's book,
_Hearing Equals Behavior_. The method was brought to the United States
in the early nineties by Annabel and Peter Stehli whose daughter
recovered from autism after receiving AIT in France. Their daughter's
story is documented in Annabel's book, _The Sound of a Miracle_.
Because of the Stehli's affiliation with autism, AIT is used heavily
by persons with autism and hyperacusis although Dr. Berard has used
AIT mostly for learning disabilities, tinnitus, and depression.

There are two different devices that are capable of delivering Berard
AIT: the audiokinetron, which was developed by Dr. Berard, and the BGC
which is designed and manufactured in the United States. Research has
not shown any difference in results according to which machine
delivers the AIT.

The preparation for AIT usually involves an audiogram to look for
hypersensitive hearing. A normal audiogram should be nearly flat (all
frequencies heard equally well) but sometimes a person may have an
audiogram that resembles a mountain range. If a person shows extreme
sensitivity to particular frequencies, then filters may be used during
AIT to eliminate those frequencies from the training. However there is
some feeling that by filtering out certain frequencies the
randomization of AIT is reduced and perhaps the effectiveness is

There is no scientifically proven theory explaining why AIT works. It
may be that the stimulation of the middle ear acts and physical
therapy for the ear. Since each frequency stimulates a different area
of the cochlea, it may be that the broad range of frequencies evens
out the cochlear response to sound.

Once a person has undergone AIT, they should not listen to music
through headphones as it may undo the training. Other factors that
have been known to reverse the benefits of AIT have been high fevers
(meningitis), general anesthesia, exposure to loud sounds, and
headphone use for music. Listening to voices (story tapes or language
tapes) is acceptable.

AIT treatments do not work on those with hyperacusis and can actually
worsen the condition - particularly the tinnitus, because it is
administered at uncomfortably loud sound levels.

For further information on AIT:

o Hearing Equals Behavior, by Dr. Guy Berard (translated by Simone
Monnier-Clay & Catherine Dodge), 192 pages, 1993, paperback
US$17.95, ISBN 0-87983-600-8, Keats Publishing Inc., New Canaan,
CT USA, +1 800 858-7014.
o The Sound of a Miracle by Annabel Stehli
o Dancing in the Rain, edited by Annabel Stehli. This is a
collection of stories written about children with special needs
who have undergone AIT.

AIT organizations:

The Georgiana Organization
P.O. Box 2607
Westport, CT 06880 USA
+1 203 454-3788

A packet on AIT as well as a list of AIT practitioners trained by the
Georgiana Organization.

Autism Research Institute
4182 Adams Ave.
San Diego, CA USA

A packet on AIT which includes research papers published by Steve
Edelson, Ph.D.

Society for Auditory Integration Training
Center for the Study of Autism
Boardwalk Plaza, Suite 230
9725 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy
Beaverton, OR 97005 USA
+1 503 643-4121

SAIT (Society for Auditory Integration Training) is dedicated to the
enhancement of the quality of life for individuals with special needs
through auditory integration training. The purpose or goal of SAIT is
to establish policies, minimum training and equipment standards and
guidelines for _all_ AIT practitioners, and to promote a professional
image. SAIT's objectives are: Promote professional and ethical
standards for AIT; Set procedural standards; Promote networking and
sharing of information; Advise and evaluate research on the efficacy
of AIT.

SAIT does not promote any single method of AIT (Berard, BGC, or
other). They will provide you objective information about many issues
concerning Auditory Integration Training (research, age
recommendations, after-care, etc.) and answer frequently asked
questions. They maintain a list of persons trained in _both_ the
Berard and BGC methods of AIT.

The SAIT Newsletter is published quarterly and is full of information
on AIT. Associate membership ($30) is open to anyone interested in
AIT. Professional memberships (reserved for practitioners who had
passed the examination for SAIT certification and who had the
appropriate educational backgrounds) have been temporarily suspended
pending FDA approval of the Audiokinetron and other AIT devices.
Currently a Practitioner membership is open to practitioners who have
been trained by an "approved" instructor. No certification of these
members will take place.

The recent FDA investigation of AIT has interrupted SAIT's efforts to
certify practitioners and to insure the ethical and professional
practice of AIT. Once the Audiokinetron and other AIT devices receive
FDA approval, SAIT will recommence its original mission. Currently
SAIT's first priority is to provide practitioners and families with
information about the current status and pressing issues of AIT. The
newsletter will focus on research, legal advice and other noteworthy
news. A supplemental paper on a related topic will also be distributed
on a quarterly basis to its members; such topics will include sensory
integration, visual training, and hearing anomalies.


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