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by    Anthony Kane, MD
 
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  Back to Page 1

Auditory Integration Training

Part 2

Study Results

For many children with ADHD, dyslexia, and a number of other developmental problems, AIT sounds very promising. Does it work?

Over the past decade, there were numerous studies to test if AIT is effective. Almost without exceptions, these studies were poorly done and nothing conclusive comes out of them. However, the general direction of the results suggests that this technique seems to do something positive.

There were contradictions. In one study involving 10 ADHD children, five received AIT and 5 listened to the same music without the processing. The 5 who received treatment showed real improvement in attention. However, a different study showed that the music without the processing was just as effective.

So it is your choice. You can go through an AIT therapist and pay $2000 or more for two weeks of treatment, or you can go to eBay and spend a dollar to buy a used CD and treat your child yourself. It is not clear from the research if one approach is better than the other. However, it does seem that both do help.

Complications

AIT is not without side effects. This is actually a point in its favor. One of the reasons so many natural treatments have ‘no side effects’ is because they don’t do anything. There may not be proof that AIT helps with ADHD, but the presence of side effects is an indication that at least it is doing something.

One of the commonly reported complaints is a change in behavior. During the 10-day treatment period, many children exhibit agitation, hyperactivity, and rapid mood swings. This type of reaction occurs with other forms of sensory integration training, also. The reason for this is unknown.

Many children become less compliant. This results from an improved attention span. A child with a short attention span is easy to redirect. As the child’s attention span improves during treatment the result is often the child becomes more focused and it is more difficult to get him to change tasks. Now on the whole better attention is a good thing. But it may not make your life as a parent any easier.

The Gains are Very Fragile

This is a big problem. Though in general the benefits seem to last, the child can lose them rather easily. The common reasons for this loss are:

  1. Illness that affects the ear, such as an ear infection
  2. Exposure to loud sounds
  3. Certain medications
  4. Some other undefined reason
  5. Wearing headphones while listening to music. (There are several clinical cases of this occurring.)

Conclusion

From the evidence at hand it is very hard to make a good recommendation regarding AIT. There are a number of positives. First of all it is completely non-invasive and basically safe. That means the worst thing that will happen is that it won’t work. However, based upon the current research that might be that the only thing that will happen. It is really hard to say.

The treatment is relatively short. Unlike most therapies you can do the whole thing in a two-week period. It may take up to six months until you see the full effect, but your time investment is rather short.

On the other hand, this can be a very expensive treatment, on the average about $2000. And it is not clear what are the chances that it will work. Even if it does work it is not clear how much it will change your child’s life.

Based upon all this uncertainty, I will not recommend what you should do. However, I will say what I would do. If my child has some signs of auditory integration problems, I would definitely consider trying one the auditory integration techniques.

I would get audiograms first to find out if there is a specific frequency of sound sensitivity. If there is I would be much more apt to put out the money for AIT provider who uses frequency dampening. If there were no specific frequency sensitivity I would probably get a CD from the recommended CD list and try that first.

When choosing a provider, I would look for someone who has experience with a number of the other auditory integration techniques. Even if AIT does work I have seen no indication of whether it is better or worse than anything else out there. I would like to have a reliable and experienced clinician make the decision of which technique is right for my child.

It is not really clear whether or not AIT really helps in ADHD treatment. However, there does seem to be a lot of indications that auditory processing defects play a significant role in contributing to ADHD, ODD, and learning disorders.

    If you have any experience with AIT or another auditory processing therapy would you please post your comments. About 10,000 parents will be reading this article and the information you have may help hundreds of children. You can post your comments at http://adhd-add.blogspot.com



Anthony Kane, MD

ADD ADHD Advances



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