Rhythmic Entrainment Intervention:
A Drum Rhythm Intervention

The use of Rhythmic Entrainment Intervention (REI) audiotapes is starting to receive attention for use with those with autism and attention-deficits. Jeff Strong developed REI which involves listening to specially-designed drumbeats on a tape recorder for about 40 minutes a day, for at least 6 to 8 weeks. The drumbeats are simply played at a low volume in the background. There is no need to concentrate on the drum rhythm nor actively attend during the listening sessions. The listener can do almost anything during the listening sessions (e.g., play, eat), but there should not be any competing sounds in the background, such as television or people talking.

REI is based on a phenomenon called ‘entrainment’ in which an object’s movements or vibrations become synchronized with the movements of other objects. ‘Sonic’ entrainment refers to sound vibrations influencing the rhythms of objects.

REI is based on the observation that numerous natural rhythms occur throughout the body (e.g., heart beat, brainwaves, respiration). When a person suffers from an illness, a physical disability, or psychological disorder, then his/her internal rhythms may be ‘out of synch.’ By using a form of sonic entrainment, such as REI’s drum rhythms, a person’s natural rhythms are encouraged to reappear.

The idea that rhythms may affect one’s health is not a novel one. Primitive civilizations in Africa and other places throughout the world have used rhythms, such as drumbeats, as a healing power. Researchers at the Monroe Institute in Virginia have documented positive effects on sleeping, learning/memory, physical health, and mental health in people who listened to various sound frequencies.

The REI Institute recently completed an open-trial clinical study on the effects of their REI audiotapes on 16 autistic children in four different classrooms. Teachers were instructed to rate various behaviors during an 8-week period. After 8 weeks, 15 of the 16 students were reported to be calmer. One student became agitated and dropped out of the study after 6 weeks. An analysis of other behavior changes after 8 weeks indicated that 11 of the 16 children were observed to have mild to dramatic changes. Some of the changes included: decrease in agitation and aggression, improvements in eye contact, and improved listening.

If you would like to obtain additional information about REI, you can write to: The REI Institute, Inc., P.O. Box 1086, Vista, CA 92085, U.S.A. Their telephone number is 1-800-659-6644, and their email is rei_inst@pacbell.net. Click here to visit their Internet web site.

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This article appeared in a previous issue of The Sound Connection, 1995, Vol. 3, No. 2, page 4.

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