Can Tomatis Sound Therapy help with your Child’s Autism?
The Autism Spectrum is a complex web of symptoms and behaviours that has, in many ways, become a catch-all diagnosis for a number of perceived disorders that range from social awkwardness to a complete inability to use language or communicate verbally. In extreme cases, Autistic people are incapable of forming relationships and some can even have trouble processing the necessary thought processes for their own safety or care.
As the diagnoses move out toward the outer fringes of the spectrum, forms of Autism like Asperger’s Syndrome and other higher-functioning disorders can sometimes have other underlying symptoms These symptoms could be managed or cured with therapies which are designed to target specific areas of difficulty for the individual.
There is no definitive cause for Autism spectrum disorders such as Asperger’s Syndrome, but as research progresses it becomes clearer that a contributing factor to many of the accompanying symptoms could be a distortion of information coming into the person’s sensory receptors.
Noise Sensitivity and Autism
Many people, both children and adults, living with Autism exhibit varying degrees of sensitivity to noise. For some, it can be any loud or abrupt noise, for others the sensitivity is to certain types of noise. With this in mind, it has been suggested that people with Autism have a built-in mental defense mechanism which shuts down receptivity to uncomfortable noises.
The brain locks down so tightly to secure itself in those situations, it cannot selectively allow or disallow noise to interact with their receptors. It acts without bias and without deference to the necessity of certain sounds’ need to pass through. The individual shuts down his or her hearing mechanism with extreme prejudice completely disallowing specific sounds to penetrate their consciousness.
The physiological effect of all this is that the middle ear muscles relax and stay relaxed. This results in a loss of tonacity which leads to a misinterpretation and analysis of sounds by the brain.
An emerging school of thought on this phenomenon is that it begins when an autistic person is a very young child. The person learns early on to close off auditory input as a defense mechanism. They understand the things that people say to them but they cannot interpret or understand the emotions being communicated in the message.
TOMATIS® Therapy and Autism
In order to teach someone how to open those receptors, it is necessary to employ some method that uses sound as the key. This is where TOMATIS® Sound Therapy comes into play. TOMATIS® uses a sound delivery system that combines various auditory mediums from classical music to poems and short stories as a catalyst for auditory stimulation. The audio is fed through special filters and coupled with other auditory stimuli to encourage the opening of receptors that have been closed since early childhood.
The filtering effect is achieved through the use of the Electronic Ear: a device which adds specific changes in tone and frequency in an effort to stimulate the individual’s entire auditory system. TOMATIS® sound therapy facilitates more comprehensive sensory integration by stimulating the brain’s sensory cortices and the cerebellum.
TOMATIS® Sound Therapy provides people with Autism an opportunity to re-acquire the capacity to listen. The Electronic Ear teaches the brain how to more efficiently process sounds and exercises the ear muscles, teaching them to respond to a broader range of sound frequencies. As therapy progresses, the individual begins responding in ways he or she could not prior to therapy.
Fetal Memory and Sound Integration
Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis discovered that some of the first sounds we hear in utero are high-frequency. We hear our mother’s heartbeat and we hear her voice. He discovered that, for some people, it was necessary to re-awaken the ability to hear high frequencies.
For autistic people, it is necessary to re-create the earliest experiences with sound to get the brain to remember what to do when it hears them. Because most people’s first and most meaningful bond is with their mothers, emotional memories are tied to these high-frequency signals. Recreating those signals also helps people with autism to remember the emotions associated with them. This helps facilitate more meaningful interactions between themselves and other people.
Right Ear Dominance and Emotional Response
People who are able to properly process speech are able to respond appropriately and without external prompts to emotional stimuli. This effect is achieved through achieving Right Ear Dominance. Research has shown that people who have a right ear speech-hearing preference are better able to respond appropriately and with spontaneity to emotions in sound. TOMATIS® facilitates the development of right ear dominance.
Right Ear Dominance is a real thing and it correlates with the use of facial muscles when speaking. F.H. Badenhorst corroborated Dr. Tomatis’ findings in 1975 in an investigation into auditory laterality. He discovered that the mobility of the muscles in the face clearly indicate whether a person is a right or left ear listener. He discovered that individuals who were right-ear listeners were better at controlling emotional responses, were less anxious, tense, frustrated or aggressive, and were more outgoing than left-ear listeners. For this reason, it is important to strive to draw on the strengths of the right ear in Autistic people.
TOMATIS® and Autistic Children
Use of TOMATIS® Sound Therapy with Autistic children has shown measurable results regardless of an individual’s place on the spectrum. In general, children have been observed to achieve the following successes using this particular auditory therapy.
- Heightened interest in interacting with people
- Increased interest in showing appropriate levels of affection with family members
- Increased use of eye contact
- Increase in vocalisation in nonverbal children
- Advancement in language development in verbal children
- Increase in appropriate uses of grammar and syntax
- Increase of use of words to express feelings
- Increase in learning ability
- Emergence of a broader range of emotions (laughing and crying under appropriate circumstances)
TOMATIS®: The Sound Choice for Your Child
If you have found yourself frustrated by the effects of Autism on your child and have been wondering if there is any way to help with any of the areas listed above, I am here to tell you that there is. I believe whole-heartedly in my ability to assist your child through the use of TOMATIS® Sound Therapy.