Information on Auditory Integration Training, Autism and Aspergers syndreome - common Autism Spectrum Disorders


Music therapy could be considered a type of auditory integration training. It aims to address the sensory problems such as hearing distortions, hyper-acute hearing, and sensory processing anomalies, which are said to cause discomfort and confusion in persons suffering from learning disabilities, including Autism Spectrum Disorders. These hypersensitivities are believed to interfere with a child’s attention, comprehension, and ability to learn.


The training typically involves the child attending two 30 minute sessions per day for ten days. The children listens to a musical program through headphones. The program is modified for each child with certain frequencies of sound filtered using an electronic device called an Audio-Kinetron.


Music therapy

Music therapy is the use of music to achieve therapeutic goals. Some goals may be, but are not limited to, motor skills, social/interpersonal development, cognitive development, self-awareness, and spiritual enhancement. Music is a very large part of auditory integration training. Speech and music are very similar in the way they are produced. Take pitch and duration of sounds for example. When two people talk, there is a difference between the pitch of the voices, and how long different people hold out different sounds. This is also evident when people sing. By stating this fact, it is evident that "music can effectively supplement an auditory training program by motivating the use of residual hearing".


When setting up a session of music therapy there are goals that have to be kept in mind. Some specific goals or objectives for music therapy and auditory training are sound detection, sound discrimination, sound identification, and comprehension of sound.


The sessions often start off with music and sounds that are familiar to the client, so they are easily recognizable. Then, gradually throughout the sessions the music and sounds become more technical and harder to discriminate. In a typical AIT session, the sounds that are used are generally recorded sounds that clients listen to through headphones.


However when music therapy is added to the session a variety of instruments can be used. For example, any percussive instrument like the metallophone, xylophone, piano, or any drum can be used. These can be used very effectively because not only can the client see when the instrument is being played, they can also feel the vibrations coming from the instruments to feel when there is sound being made and when there is not. For example, an activity that is very useful and enjoyable is "balloons". In this activity the client gets a balloon that is full of air. The therapist then plays a drum, piano, or any other percussive instrument and the client can feel the vibrations of that instrument in the balloon when that instrument is being played. The vibrations stop when the instrument stops. Every sound has a vibration or a certain frequency and by holding a balloon these frequencies are larger-than-life and can be easily felt by the client.


Multisensory approach

It is important to use a multi-sensory approach, especially when dealing with children on the autism spectrum. The more senses that are incorporated into a session, the better the result will be. Musical instruments such as the ones stated above, are pitched in various frequencies and they can be played very loudly, which allows the client to recognize these sounds sooner than they would recognize the human voice (Davis 1999, 190). To simply recognize when sound exists is very important in the early stages of sound awareness. If it were not for the music, AIT would not be nearly as effective.

Speech is greatly affected when someone has a deficiency in his or her auditory system. We learn how to speak from what we hear as a young child. By using music therapy for auditory training, it helps to develop speech as well. It encourages free vocalization and vocal imitation. By singing songs that use words that begin with the same letter, or focus on one certain sound, the client will learn how to say that sound.


When working on speech, using music therapy for auditory training, there are also certain goals and objectives to work on; for example, an increased use of voice for free vocalization and an increased awareness of speech patterns and subsequent production of more natural speech rhythms, pitch and inflection. Practioners advise it is very important to start this whole process as soon as possible; as the earlier the intervention, the better the outcome will be.


What does the research say?

Music Therapy for Auditory Training is claimed to be an effective treatment for any client that has trouble with verbalization, any level of hearing impairment, Autism, ADD and ADHD. However, conventional audiology and medical organisations consider it to be an experimental procedure. Parents should be provided with accurate information about the research evidence for these approaches and the costs involved in pursuing these programs (Sinha et al., 2006).

Research Summary: Several small studies of AIT have obtained mixed results, with some studies showing benefits and others failing to do so (Sinha, Silove, Wheeler, & Williams, 2005). Additional studies are needed to evaluate AIT more conclusively.


Professionals should present AIT as untested and encourage families who are considering this intervention to evaluate it carefully.


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Auditory integration training (AIT) aims to address the sensory problems such as hearing distortions, hyper-acute hearing, and sensory processing anomalies which can effect people with Autism and Asperger's syndrome