Sarah Cox visited The Sound and Learning Centre to find out about Auditory Integration Training (AIT).
Tackling sensory processing difficulties at the root of the problem.
Very often in my role as SEN Consultant I have come across children with diagnoses of Dyslexia and other Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs), who have underlying auditory and/or visual sensory processing difficulties.
Diagnoses are of course extremely helpful in terms of defining strengths and weaknesses and showing how we can better support our students; providing structured and cumulative support. However, rarely do we think to tackle the underlying processing difficulties that can be associated with SpLDs. This mainly comes from the belief that they are usually developmental, last a lifetime and, as long as we put the necessary academic scaffolding in place, the student will do well. Whilst this is true of many students, for some, there is a way to improve some of the sensory processing issues that lie at the root of their difficulties. By improving a child’s sensory systems, we can help them to efficiently process and learn information without it being such an uphill struggle.
Several weeks ago I was introduced to the idea that auditory processing can be improved by a therapy called Auditory Integration Training (AIT) at a specialist centre in north London called The Sound Learning Centre. The centre provide numerous therapies including a Neuro-Developmental programme and Lightwave Stimulation Therapy (specifically for anyone suffering from scotopic sensitivity). The auditory integration training, however, was a revelation to me and I know could be of benefit to many of my students in the past who have struggled with auditory processing difficulties.
In order to find out more, I went to the centre to visit Pauline and Phil Stickland and their friendly, professional team of specialists. The Sound and Learning Centre has been running successfully for 25 years and has a number of relaxed therapy rooms with the technical equipment for the therapies. Pauline (né Allen), who is Founder of the centre, was personally trained by Dr. Guy Bérard in France and is also authorised by Dr. Bérard to train other AIT practitioners. Dr. Bérard, was a French ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist, who identified a link between hearing distortions and many behavioural or learning problems and who developed the AIT programme.
Over their many years of experience the centre have helped clients with hearing difficulties that were affecting their social, emotional, behavioural and/or academic performance. Many of their clients have been previously diagnosed with a variety of learning difficulties including dyslexia, dyspraxia, Auditory Processing Disorders (APD or CAPD), Asperger’s, Autistic spectrum disorders and so on. After completing the Auditory therapy, many have shown improved performance not only academically, but emotionally and socially.