Auditory integration training

This is a highly specialised form of treatment (intervention) which is designed for people with autism, attention deficiency hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other similar conditions.

Many autistic people suffer from ’sensory hypersensitivity’in that they find it difficult to cope with bright lights, noises and smells. Any type of sound appears to be amplified or distorted which upsets the autistic person and causes them to behave in unpredictable ways.

They respond by waving their hands around, shouting or screaming, covering their ears or running away from the sound. This can occur even with normal, everyday sounds.

This training is not widely available in the UK. There are only a few specialist practitioners, the details of which are available on the National Autistic Society website.

Who runs an auditory integration training session?

These sessions are organised by trainers, auditory integration practitioners and anyone involved in research into this treatment. There are only a few places which offer this type of intervention so you are limited in terms of where to obtain treatment.

How does auditory integration training work?

It involves the autistic person listening to different frequencies of sounds via headphones which modulate these sounds. The idea is to reduce the ’distortion’ which is a common feature of sensory hypersensitivity and enable the autistic person to perceive sounds in a normal manner.

This will reduce temper tantrums, anti-social or challenging behaviour and impulsive actions.

The adult or child sits in front of a device which filters a range of sounds or music that they hear through a set of headphones. These sounds are carefully filtered to remove any harsh or inharmonious noises which will adversely affect the listener.

The aim is to accustom the listener to a variety of sounds which they will then adapt to in the real world. This will reduce any anxiety or tension experienced and improves their behaviour.

The adult or child undergoes a series of 30 minute sessions within a two week period. They usually have two sessions a day over a period of 10 days which equals 20 sessions in total.

Who is suitable for auditory integration training?

Both children and adults who have an autistic spectrum disorder are suitable for this treatment. If they suffer from sensory overload such as an extreme reaction to loud noises then they may benefit from this method.

What are examples of sensory hypersensitivity? These include:

  • Covering ears to block out sounds
  • Cries or screams as a response to sounds
  • Avoids noisy environments
  • Easily distracted by a variety of sounds
  • Problems with understanding and/or following verbal instructions.
  • Incorrect or inappropriate response to verbal commands
  • Generates their own sounds, e.g. humming
  • Tires easily, especially at the end of the day

This treatment aims to reduce extreme levels of sounds which enable the autistic person to cope with everyday life.

Outcome of auditory integration training

The overall aim is to change the autistic person’s response to everyday noises and sounds. They will respond in a positive way to various sounds and without becoming distressed and feel confident about dealing with these situations.

This will improve other areas of behaviour such as communication with others, social interaction and being able to comprehend a set of instructions. It also means reduced sensitivity to noises and sounds.

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