Bérard Auditory Integration Training (or Bérard AIT as it is known) was developed by Dr Guy Bérard, a French Ear- Nose- and Throat specialist living in Annecy, France. Dr Bérard originally devised AIT to rehabilitate disorders of the auditory system such as hearing loss or hearing distortions (hypersensitive, hyposensitive, or asymmetrical hearing conditions).
After more than 35 years of clinical practice Dr Bérard concluded that in many cases distortions of hearing or auditory processing contribute to behavioural problems and could also contribute to learning difficulties. He found in the large majority of his clients that AIT significantly reduced some or many of the handicaps associated with dyslexia, autism spectrum disorders, central auditory processing disorders (CAPD), speech and language problems, and a variety of sensory issues including auditory, tactile or other sensitivities (hyper or hypo), pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), attention deficit disorder (with or without hyperactivity), anxiety and depression.
AIT was designed to normalise the ways in which the brain processes auditory information. In other words it works to equalise the hearing response across all frequencies across the hearing range. AIT has over 35 years of scientific research and there are 28 clinical studies documenting its efficacy.
Dr Guy Bérard designed a device that rapidly modulated the high and low frequencies within selected music to create a type of auditory massage for the ear and brain centres for receiving sound. This device which is now called the AudioKinetron also contains filters to reduce auditory stimulation to selected frequencies in cases where an individual has painful hearing that interferes with attention and concentration.
While Dr Bérard was accumulating evidence in France he wrote a book entitled ‘Ecoute Egale Comportement’ (translated in 1994 into English as Hearing Equals Behaviour).
However the event that really catapulted this information into the awareness of the English-speaking world was the publication in 1991 of the book by Annabel Stehli : ‘The Sound of a Miracle’. This book documented the emergence from autism by Annabel’s daughter, Georgie, following AIT with Dr Bérard. This book became a best-seller, and was followed by two more: ‘Dancing in the Rain’ and ‘The Sound of Falling Snow’ which described other children’s dramatic progress after AIT.
As the demand for this training grew, Annabel and her husband Peter formed the Georgiana Institute and brought out Dr Bérard to train many practitioners in the USA and from other countries, in courses held in Westport, Connecticut, USA, in the years between 1991 and 1994.
The device in use at that time was the French-built AudioKinetron, built by M Pierre Suire for Dr Bérard. The Kinetron accepts music from a regular compact disc or tape player and electronically divides the frequencies it finds into a high and low range. The machine then randomly presents either the low or the high frequencies in a rapidly and randomly shifting manner.
This sound is delivered via high-response headphones to the listener at loudness levels that typically may begin at 40 dB and rise to 85 to 90dB by the end of the training sessions.
The training itself consists of twenty half-hour sessions spaced over the ten consecutive days. Depending on the individual there may be transient side effects including headaches, mood swings, mild disorientation, euphoria, and nausea. As with any exercise programme fatigue is the most commonly-seen side-effect. Many people show no side effects at all. These side effects may appear intermittently for the month following AIT. It is evident that some powerful changes occur during AIT and it takes a while for the person to assimilate them. No long-term negative effects have been attributed to AIT.
Why Does It Work?
When an individual listens to this music the muscles in the middle ear shift and readjust continually in response to the modulated tones. This continual movement of the muscles in the middle ear becomes a kind of exercise that strengthens the ears ability to modulate sound.
It is believed that the cochlea experiences a ‘wash’ of fluid back and forth as well. The net effect is that the middle, and (to some extent) the inner ear receive the equivalent of a massage that allows for greater flexibility and responsiveness to sound stimuli. Auditory information from the ears is processed by the temporal lobe of the brain, which is also heavily involved in the processing of language-based information and has some role in emotional functioning.
There is speculation that AIT involves remapping of areas of the brain associated with auditory processing and that the temporal lobe stimulation encourages the development of new dendritic branching. Ongoing research will in time to come reveal more clearly how the kinds of changes practitioners regularly report are brought about.
The Audiokinetron is no longer manufactured. A more recent South African device, the Earducator, has taken its place. In the USA, a development known as Digital Auditory Aerobics (DAA) was produced by Annabel Stehli with Keith McBurnie. This device adheres to the same protocol as the Earducator and produces the same benefits, but is not accepted by the ‘old-guard’ traditionalists. Since Keith McBurnie's passing, the DAA is no longer manufactured.
All these devices suffer from the same drawbacks in AIT delivery ... they are costly, they are bulky, and a client has to travel to the rooms of the practitioner who has such a device in order to obtain the training.
A new concept in AIT-provision runs from a pc or laptop, using the sound manipulation capabilities of the pc with the control for levels of loudness, filters and session timing being built-in to the programme. It can still deliver the AIT-quality sound alternation via headphones and adheres to the original specifications of Dr Bérard with ONE important difference... that it can be done in the client’s home! This new system is called Filtered Sound Training.
Furthermore, this new concept, FST, remains free of the (still unproven) restrictions regarding minimum age of training, and from the unproven filtering protocols of the old-guard AIT management.
For further information, contact Rosalie Seymour
Tel: 0044 7975945567