Berard Auditory Integration Training or Berard AIT was developed by Dr. Guy Berard, an otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose, and Throat or ENT physician) in Annecy, France. Dr. Guy Berard originally invented AIT to rehabilitate disorders of the auditory system, such as hearing loss or hearing distortion (hypersensitive, hyposensitive, or asymmetrical hearing).
After 35+ years of clinical practice and study, Dr. Berard determined that, in many cases, distortions in hearing or auditory processing contribute to behavioral or learning disorders. In the large majority of Dr. Berard’s cases, AIT significantly reduced some or many of the handicaps associated with autism spectrum disorders, central auditory processing disorders (CAPD), speech and language disorders, sensory issues including auditory, tactile or other sensory sensitivities (hyper or hypo), dyslexia, pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity, anxiety, and depression.
Berard Auditory Integration Training was designed to normalize hearing and the ways in which the brain processes auditory information. For example, an individual tests as hypersensitive to the frequencies of 1,000 and 8,000 Hertz while the perception of all other frequencies falls within the normal range. The individual becomes overstimulated, disoriented or agitated in the presence of sounds at 1,000 and 8,000 Hertz. Therefore, Berard AIT works to normalize the hearing response across all frequencies within the normal hearing range.
In another example, an individual’s hearing is asymmetrical (significantly different between the two ears). When the right and left ears perceive sounds in an extremely different way, problems with sound discrimination can occur. Again, Berard AIT works to normalize the hearing of both ears.
How Auditory Integration Training Works
An assessment of the prospective trainee’s auditory system is conducted. If at all possible, this assessment includes an audiogram. The assessment will indicate whether the individual is an appropriate candidate for AIT. If training is undertaken, the information in the audiogram can be used to determine the proper settings for the electronic filtering device used in AIT.
During Auditory Integration Training, music from a stereo system (i.e., CD or cassette player) is sent through a specialized electronic device. The electronic device randomizes and filters the frequencies from the music source and sends these modified sounds into the trainee’s ears through a set of headphones. The randomized frequencies mobilize and exercise the inner ear and brain. For example, the sound waves vibrate and exercise the muscles that control the three ossicles (the small bones in the middle ear). It is important to note that if the trainee’s audiogram has indicated a hypersensitivity to certain frequencies, the electronic device will modulate and control the volume of the said frequencies.
The Training Structure
Auditory Integration Training requires twenty sessions. Each session involves thirty minutes of listening time. A break of at least three hours is needed between sessions. Ideally, the trainee does two thirty-minute sessions daily for a period of ten consecutive days. Other options are possible spanning from eight to fourteen consecutive days.
A mid-point assessment is done after ten sessions to reassess the trainee’s hearing and note any changes. Any necessary changes to the settings on the electronic device are made at this time.
A third assessment is given after the completion of the twenty sessions. After twenty sessions, the trainee’s hearing should show significant improvement with all or most frequencies being perceived within more normal ranges. Some behavioral changes may be seen within a few weeks of treatment. Other behavioral changes involve a learning and reorganization process and will generally become evident over the course of three to six months. Please note that it can take up to one year for all behavioral changes and benefits to become evident.
The Results of the Training
The following are the improvements reported by teachers, parents, and trainees after completion of Auditory Integration Training:
- Improved language discrimination or comprehension
- Greater interest in verbalization and communication
- Reduction of hyper-acute and/or painful hearing
- Fewer complaints of sounds causing pain or discomfort
- Reduction in noise or tinnitus in the ear
- Fewer startle responses to loud noises
- More appropriate vocal intensity (volume)
- More appropriate affect, expression, and interaction
- Easier, more frequent interaction with others, including increased eye contact
- Exhibition of age-appropriate behavior
- Improved academic performance
- Improvement in social skills
- Increased comfort level
- Less impulsivity and restlessness
- Reduction in distractibility
- Less lethargy
- Less irritability
- Increased independence and self-esteem
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