These days everyone seems to be talking about Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) If you haven’t heard about it at school, from a family member or had personal experience, you’ve probably read about it or seen it on TV.
What can we do about it? At Sound Education, while not a cure, we can go a long way to help people with ADD or ADHD. All programs are individually tailored to get the best possible results.
Unravelling the Controversies about ADD and ADHD
A review of the scientific literature shows that ADD is a hotly debated topic. Some experts go as far as saying that the ADD syndrome lacks supportive evidence and should be clinically discarded (G. Coles, L. Fleisher and P. Breggin). Others believe that ADD is a neurological syndrome whose cause might be genetic (Hallowell and Ratey). However, they admit “the exact mechanism underlying ADD remains unknown. There is no single lesion of the brain, no single neurotransmitter system, no single gene we have identified that triggers ADD.”Even the experts do not agree!
We have no idea who is right. Our concern is to help people with ADD and ADHD overcome their problems. We do so “The Natural Way”, without medication. Over the years, we have been quite successful helping people, by fine-tuning the way they listen.
The Tomatis Approach
The Tomatis Method can help people with ADD and ADHD by:
- regulating the vestibular function
- desensitising the bone conduction
- making you right ear dominant
What do these aspects helping people with ADD and ADHD?
Regulating the Vestibular Function
Dr. Jean Ayres,pioneer of Sensory integration says all our senses have to work in concert.That means the senses of touch, smell, taste, sight and sound, as well as our physical movement and body awareness, have to work in harmony. It is from the senses that information is gathered that transmits to the brain, where it is interpreted and organized. That process is called sensory integration. When one of our senses isn’t functioning well, our learning process and our quality of living are diminished.
For most children ordinary play develops sensory integration effortlessly,whilst for others, sensory integration develops in a disordered manner, causing a number of problems in learning, development or behaviour.
Jean Ayres concludes that these problems arise when the vestibule does not function well. In her book, Sensory Integration and the Child, Dr. Ayres writes: “Well-modulated vestibular activity is very important for maintaining a calm, alert state. The vestibular system also keeps the level of arousal of the nervous system balanced. An under-active vestibular system contributes to hyperactivity and distractibility because of the lack of its modulating influence.”
There are several ways to stimulate the vestibule. Hyperactive kids do it by moving around continuously. Unfortunately, they do not get a lot of benefit from it, as the vestibule is not able to translate it into a genuine stimulation of the brain. An Occupational therapists may use a n array of movement techniques to stimulate the vestibule, often with good results. The Tomatis Method, uses the stimulation of the gated sounds, either alone or in combination with movement techniques, often with spectacular results.
Desensitising bone conduction
WE hear with more than just our ears. The bones of our body and our skin tissue are also sensitive to sound. When we hear a gunshot, a loud screech or a door slamming, our bodies shudder instinctively and can even give us “Goosebumps”. The sounds picked up by our bones are transmitted directly to our inner-ear, without any filter to dampen their intensity. They arrive in the brain without any warning signals. That’s why they produce a reflex reaction. On the other hand, sounds picked up by our ears are dampened to a comfortable intensity. In addition, the body picks up the sounds slightly before they reach our ears, and so our ears are forewarned that sounds are coming.
People with some types of ADD or ADHD hear too much through bone conduction. They primarily listen with their body, instead of with their ears. As a result, all sounds go directly into the inner ear, without any filter to dampen the intensity and to filter out irrelevant sound input. That is one of the reasons why they are so reactive. They are at the mercy of what is going on in their environment because they have somehow lost the ability to focus and tune out extraneous background noise.
If you can, try to imagine what it would be like to not have the ability to tune out the extraneous noise around you. Every noise would have the same amount of sound value. You’d try to catch a word but then a noise from somewhere distracts you. As a result, you missed the next part of the conversation or instruction being given. People would begin to get mad at you because you didn’t pay attention. You knew you meant to focus your attention but these other noises kept intruding. Now imagine this happening over and over and over in a day’s time, a week’s time, a month’s time or even over a year’s time. You get the picture.
If it were you, how would you feel?
- You’d feel overwhelmed.
- You’d feel like it was hard to learn due to the distractions.
- You might feel ashamed that you couldn’t focus like other people.
- You’d always feel like you’re trying to catch up.
- You’d probably feel confused because of the constant sound overload.
- You could possibly feel inferior because it’s so difficult to keep up due to the distractions.
So, what would you do to cope with this situation?
- You could tune-out, become lethargic and very quiet
- You could react to every bit of input you get, frantically jumping from one topic to the next, never be able to stay with one topic, in short, suffer from attention deficit.
We’ll train your ears to become the main entrance to sounds, and make your bone conduction the secondary entrance. That way, the sounds can be processed in the correct way. We’ll do it by having you listen to gated music through a special headphone that is equipped with a vibrator. Through the vibrator you’ll listen with your body, at the same time as you listen with your ears. Over time, you will adjust to listening primarily with your ears. Desensitising the bone conduction reduces stress and gives you the ability to pay attention and learn more effectively.
We will also train you to correctly use the bone conduction. One of its functions is to forewarn the ear that sound is coming. This can be best illustrated with an example. When you want someone to really pay attention, you tap him or her on the shoulder and say: hey listen! The function of the bone is exactly the same: it says to the ear: hey listen! Ideally, the ear should obey to this command almost instantaneously. In people with ADD and ADHD, however, it can take a relatively long time. So, their ears are not ready to process the incoming sounds in time. Fortunately, we can remedy this. When we start the training, will send the sounds to the bone a long time before it is sent to the ear (up to 250 milliseconds in case of severe Attention Deficit). Over time we will gradually reduce the time lapse between sound sent to the bone and the ear, getting your brain adjusted to the proper use of your bone conduction.
Making you Right-Ear Dominant
To the surprise of many, we each have a dominant ear. Some are right-ear dominant. Others are left-ear dominant. The advantage in being right-ear dominant is that the right ear processes the incoming auditory information faster than the left ear. Therefore, people who are right ear dominant are more likely to pay better attention.
The right ear processes information faster because it sends the information directly to the left brain, which specializes in processing language. However, the left ear sends the information to the right brain, which cannot process language. The information has thus to be rerouted to the left brain via the Corpus Callosum. Because that’s a longer pathway, the information is delayed. Left-ear-dominant people thus have to play catch-up all the time. Not only is the information late, it is also incomplete. In the transfer from the right brain to the left brain, some of the higher frequencies are lost. As we have seen before, these are the frequencies that are key to distinguish similar sounds (like a B and a P). Left-ear-dominant people thus not only have to play catch-up, they also have to play with an incomplete deck.
The Tomatis Listening Program helps people with ADD and ADHD achieve better right-ear dominance. Towards the end of the program, we’ll gradually shift the sounds from the left ear to the right ear. You’ll also do some reading exercises through a microphone coupled with our electronic equipment. We’ll filter your voice and return it exclusively to your right ear. It will teach you to listen to yourself and develop self-listening skills, which people with ADHD and ADD often lack. Over time, you’ll become right ear dominant, making it easier for you to pay attention.
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