Written by Stephen M. Edelson, Ph.D.
Center for the Study of Autism, Salem, Oregon
Based on many of the telephone calls I have received
at my research center, it is apparent that confusion exists about
Integration Training. I am writing this letter to provide basic
information about Audio Integration Training as well as to clarify
many of these issues.
1. A health care professional should examine the
individual's ears prior to Audio Integration Training to ensure
there is no excessive wax and/or fluid. Excessive wax or fluid may
reduce the volume of the Audio Integration Training input. It is
the responsibility of the practitioner to ensure that this has been
done prior to Audio Integration Training.
2. The listener receives 18 to 20 listening sessions,
and each listening session lasts for 1/2 hour. In most cases, the
listener has two sessions a day for 10 days. At some Audio Integration
Training clinics, the listening sessions are given for 10 consecutive
days; however, it is also acceptable to have a 1- or 2-day break
after 5 days of listening. The number of sessions and length of
the sessions are not subject to change until formal research procedures
determine that such changes are beneficial.
3. During the listening sessions, the person listens
to processed music. That is, the Audio Integration Training sound
amplifier deletes low and high frequencies at random from the compact
discs, and then sends this modified music through headphones to
the listener. This random selection of frequencies is termed 'modulation.'
4. The intensity level (volume) during the Audio
Integration Training listening sessions should not exceed 85 dBA
(slow scale) and may be set at much lower intensities depending
on the individual's comfort level. Basically, the music is played
at a moderately loud, but not uncomfortable, level. The 85 dBA level
for a total of one-hour per day is well below the Occupational Safety
and Health Act (OSHA) guidelines for non-hazardous noise levels.
The OSHA Noise Standard permits exposure to an average noise exposure
of 85 dBA for eight continuous hours.
For reference, 85 dBA is approximately as loud
as standing 5 feet from a vacuum cleaner, with 92-94 dBA as loud
as wind noise in a car with the window down. It is also important
to note that the perception of intensity varies considerably depending
on the pitch of the sound. For example, a high-pitched song sung
by Carly Simon may be perceived as louder than one sung by a male
vocalist such as Gordon Lightfoot even though both may have the
same dBA measurement.
5. Audiograms are typically obtained prior to,
at the mid- point, and at the completion of the Audio Integration
Training listening session. The first and the mid-point audiograms
are used to set filters on the Audio Integration Training machines.
These filters are used to dampen (40 dBA or more) those frequencies
which the person hears too well (peaks).
6. Dr. Guy Berard, developer of Berard method
of Audio Integration Training, and Bill Clark, developer of the
BGC method of AIT, state that filtering peaks is optional for the
developmentally disabled population. In addition, Dr. Bernard Rimland,
Director of the Autism Research Institute in San Diego, and I have
conducted an empirical study on 650 individuals with various degrees
of autism and have found that filtering peaks in one's hearing is
not related to one's level of improvement using various post-assessment
measures. The music is modulated throughout the 10 hours of listening,
whether or not peaks are filtered.
7. Audio Integration Training involves several
components including some audiological work, behavior analysis and
management, educational issues, and after-care counseling for the
client and family. The most satisfactory results can be obtained
when a multi-disciplinary team approach is used for the administration
of the AIT program. The Society for Auditory Integration Techniques
(SAIT) recommends a multi-disciplinary team which could include
(but is not limited to) specialists in the fields of audiology,
psychology, special education, and speech/language.
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