What’s Before AIT, What’s After AIT?
By Sally Brockett, M.S. Director, IDEA Training Center
With such a vast array of interventions now available, parents and professionals are sometimes uncertain as to an appropriate sequence to follow. Due to individual differences and unique needs, it is not possible to set any hard and firm sequence that would be appropriate for all people. However there are some factors that should be given consideration.
If one considers the hierarchy of development as a guide, it is logical to pursue biological interventions first in order to build a strong foundation for the other developmental areas. When the body is free of toxins and is nutritionally well balanced, it is likely to respond better to other types of interventions. If the individual has sound sensitivity that is caused by a deficiency in magnesium, yeast overgrowth, mercury toxicity or use of aspartame (Nutrasweet), the biological treatments may correct the hypersensitive hearing.
It is especially important to attend to ear health prior to pursuing an AIT program. If the listener has a history of chronic ear infections, tonsillitis and adenoid problems, this should be addressed before AIT is started. Proper intervention will help assure that the child will be able to successfully complete the training program without interruption due to infection, and will maintain the benefits across time.
Biological treatments vary in the length of time needed to see improvement. While many treatment results may be evident within weeks, some require much more time (i.e. mercury and yeast detoxification may take months to a year or more). If the child is experiencing sound sensitivity to such a degree that it interferes with daily life activities, and/or the child is quite delayed in language development, parents should consider proceeding with AIT in order to improve this situation as quickly as possible. In a case such as this, it is often best to plan another session of AIT after the biological treatments have been completed in order to “fine tune” and stabilize the system. AIT is usually more consistently maintained when the biological dysfunctions have been corrected.
The minimum age for auditory integration training (AIT) is 3 years, and if the child is an appropriate candidate, the only behavioral requirement is that the child accepts headphones. Since AIT may provide such fundamental and comprehensive benefits and sets the stage for further development in many other areas, it is often the first choice by professionals and parents in regard to sound-based interventions.
Some children respond well to AIT following craniosacral or chiropractic treatments since these address some structural problems and may help the sensory defensive child accept the headphones. These treatments may also help reduce problems with chronic ear infections/fluid that can interfere with getting AIT done. Thus, there may be cases where it is best to pursue some of the biological interventions before providing AIT, while in other cases, AIT may give the child some immediate benefit that will outweigh reasons for delaying it.
Activities can be done during and after AIT to help the individual integrate and adjust to the changes derived from AIT. Many practitioners recommend participation in sensory integration activities even during the 10-day period of AIT and in the following weeks. This can help reduce any irritability and hyperactivity that may occur, and may help reorganize the system more quickly.
A variety of interventions can be provided after AIT to facilitate the development of skills that failed to progress due to the inefficient auditory system. Computer software programs such as Earobics (www.earobics.com) and SoundSmart by BrainTrain (www.braintrain.com) can be used to help children develop auditory processing skills that had failed to develop appropriately due to an inefficient auditory system. Listening to well-structured music such as Mozart and Gregorian Chants (without headphones) can also help reorganize the system.
Interactive Metronome (IM) (www.interactivemetronome.com) is another sound-based intervention that may be used by some individuals after AIT. Since it may take as long as 6-9 months for the changes from AIT to be integrated into the system, it is generally recommended that other sound-based interventions not be considered prior to this period. This will allow parents and professionals time to see how the individual has responded to AIT and if there are continuing concerns. Interactive Metronome is designed to help improve motor planning, sequencing and timing capabilities. While these abilities may improve with AIT, some individuals may need more “fine tuning” in these areas and IM may serve this function. In order to participate in IM, children must be able to participate in a series of coordinated, repetitive movement activities. Although headphones are required for listening to the metronome beats, these soft tones are much less likely to be disruptive to the benefits of AIT than the hours of listening to music and/or speech sounds that are basic to other sound-based interventions.
Currently, there is no data available on the impact of using headphones to listen to the music/speech sounds used in a variety of sound-based interventions. Parents and professionals need to be cautious about this since it is known that listening to music with headphones can have a negative impact on AIT results.
As one can see, many issues must be considered when determining the sequence of interventions. The individual’s needs and differences are a priority and options must take these into account.
of the Society for Auditory Intervention Techniques, Vol. 6, No.3, 1999