Inaccurate Information on AIT Published
by the National Research Council

The National Research Council (NRC) recently published a book, Educating Children with Autism (2001), which contains disgracefully inaccurate information about auditory integration training (AIT). The book can also be read, free-of-charge, on the Internet (www.nap.edu and search the word ‘autism’). The section on AIT is located on pages 99 and 100.

The book falsely states regarding AIT: “… in general studies have not supported either its theoretical basis or the specificity of its effectiveness” (page 100). Edelson and Rimland recently wrote a review paper on AIT. The review paper found 23 studies to have reported improvement, 3 studies to have reported no improvement, and 2 studies to have reported equivocal results.

There are many other problems with this very biased NRC report. A 1994 paper by Gravel is falsely cited: “A recent review noted that for children treated with auditory integration therapy, objective electrophysiologic measures failed to demonstrate differences in hearing sensitivity between children with autism and controls, thereby questioning the overall premise of auditory integration therapy” (p. 100). Gravel’s paper was actually an “opinion” paper; she did not report any research data nor did she review any studies using electrophysiologic measures to examine hearing sensitivity. Gravel did cite studies investigating other auditory issues, such as deafness, distortions in hearing and auditory processing. However, the statement that she cited studies showing no differences in hearing sensitivity in autism was simply not true.

The chapter also states “More recent studies noted no differences in responses to auditory integration training therapy in children with autism or controls (Best and Miln, 1997; Gillberg et al., 1997)” (page 100). The Best and Miln (1997) report was actually an unpublished review paper on AIT and contained no research data. The Gillberg et al. (1997) study was an open-clinical trial study of only 9 children, with no control group. Gillberg et al. (1998) acknowledged one year later that there may have been improvement as a result of AIT in their 1997 study. This was not mentioned in the NRC report. A study by Bettison (1996) was also discussed, but there was no mention of the many inherent problems with this study.

The book mentioned only one published study supporting AIT (Rimland & Edelson, 1995) and ignored the Rimland and Edelson (1994) paper involving 445 autistic children and the double-blind placebo study involving electrophysiological measures (Edelson et al., 1999). All three of these studies were among the 23 which showed positive results. The Edelson et al. (1999) study documented dramatic improvements using electrophysiological measures as well as significant improvements in behavior. The other 20 studies showing positive results were also ignored.

Unfortunately, the publication of the book may serve to dissuade parents from trying a very safe, non-intrusive and potentially effective intervention with their autistic children.

We hope our readers will inform parents and professionals about the NRC’s false statements regarding AIT if they are asked about it.

 

– – – – – – – – – – – –
This article appeared in a previous issue of The Sound Connection, 2002, Vol. 9, No. 2, pages 1 & 2.

If you have any questions about this article please contact us at sait@berardaitwebsite.com.