Why do Berard AIT?
When a parent is faced with finding interventions for their child who may be struggling with learning, developmental and/or behavioral problems, they need to explore the many options currently available and evaluate each one. They must take into consideration the effectiveness of the intervention (considering relative benefit/risk), whether it is appropriate for their particular child, the timing of the program relative to other interventions that are being done, cost and accessibility.
There are some immediately recognized advantages of Berard AIT:
- it only requires 10 days, with two 30 minute listening sessions each day.
- the main pre-requisite skill is that the listener must accept the head-phones (Berard Practitioners are knowledgeable about how to help those individuals who may be initially reluctant.)
- it can be provided as young as 3 years of age.
Understanding the weaknesses in the auditory system
Many children receiving special education services, and even some who are struggling without services, often have an undiagnosed or uncorrected problem with the way they hear and/or process the information. Dr. Berard believes that learning and behavior is affected by problems such as:
- hypersensitive hearing
- hearing distortions
- processing delays
- lack of coordination
- which interfere with efficient processing of sound signals.
The Berard method of auditory integration training stimulates the auditory system with unique sounds produced by the Berard AIT device. These unique sounds stimulate the auditory system to reduce or eliminate the problems within this system. Dr. Berard describes his program as a method of retraining the way the sounds are processed. When a person can process sounds properly, they can maintain a state of alert readiness, concentration, and effective comprehension. A weakness in any part of the system’s functioning can have a ripple effect throughout, and interfere with the overall process, leading to a breakdown in efficiency. The person may exhibit irritability, hyperactivity, fatigue, distractibility, pain, discomfort, anxiety and confusion. There may also be problems in other areas of sensory processing, including vision, touch, smell, taste, etc.
The auditory system has many functions
Most people think of hearing as the sole function of the auditory system and don’t realize that this system is responsible for many other jobs. It controls balance, motor planning and coordination, assists in the control of eye movements, and our arm, hand and fingers when we write, it enables us to use language and sing on tune, and contains the control center for all sensory processing. Thus, it makes sense that when the auditory system is not functioning effectively, many diverse problems may appear:
- including poor balance and motor coordination skills
- delays in speech and language development
- difficulty with reading skills
- poor concentration
- poor fine motor skills
- difficulty with vision skills
- dysfunctions with sensory processing.
It is not surprising then, that the person may be poorly organized and may have little self-confidence.
Retraining the auditory system results in a variety of benefits
When the Berard AIT program retrains the auditory system, the benefits may extend well beyond just the ability to listen better. Parents often report improvement in the child’s ability to ride his bike, play hockey or catch the ball, words may be pronounced more clearly, and the speech volume may be more appropriately regulated. Hearing sensitivity is often reduced so the person may not cover their ears or avoid crowds and noisy events. Some children may begin to speak for the first time, or those who have been speaking, may expand to much more complex use of language. With the improvements in speech and language, most individuals begin to show increased interest in socialization. Children may also begin to color, draw and write with more skill, and some quickly learn to tie their shoes or button clothes. As the sensory system begins to process input more accurately, the need to constantly be seeking ways of regulating their sensory experiences decreases, and they now have the ability to attend and concentrate on other important things. They may be calmer, demonstrate less anxiety and irritability, and show a lot more self confidence.
Because of these factors, Berard AIT is often a wise choice for an intervention program. While it is beneficial as an independent intervention, it is considered a foundation program from which other programs can build. Many parents and professionals report that the child’s educational progress accelerates following Berard AIT. Occupational, speech/language and physical therapists comment that IEP goals are mastered much more quickly once the foundation is in place that facilitates the child’s progress.
Is there data to support the Berard method?
Yes, the Berard method is one of the few sound-based interventions that has been researched and its effectiveness is well-documented by many studies. Studies have been done with a variety of populations, including:
- PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder)
- CAPD (central auditory processing disorder)
- ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
- and mixed populations
With significantly positive results, however, the diagnostic label is of less importance than the presenting concerns and areas of difficulty. These studies have evaluated physiological, behavioral and cognitive changes in the subjects demonstrate the efficacy of AIT. Click here for a summary of these studies.
There is additional data available that provides results of pre and post-AIT testing based on tests commonly used in the educational system. These test results demonstrate that Berard AIT is an educationally related service that can enhance the student’s ability to achieve. To see improvements in auditory processing and problem solving as a result of Berard AIT, click here. To see improvements in sensory processing, attention and hyperactivity after Berard AIT, click here. To read research reports, click here.
In conclusion, Berard AIT is often a preferred choice when considering interventions for those with special needs. Since it may impact in such a global way, and set the stage for even more advancements, it is one of the approaches that should be provided at an early point in programming. The benefits may occur in many developmental areas and it is appropriate for many individuals.