Sound-Based Intervention Offers Eating Hope for Autistic Children

The week of September 20 is Autism Awareness Week at

Sally BrockettGuest blogger Sally Brockett, M.S., is a Berard AIT Instructor/Practitioner and the Director of the IDEA Training Center. For more information and a list of international Berard AIT practitioners, visit Berard AIT.

Berard Auditory Integration Training (AIT) is a sound-based intervention designed to reorganize or balance the auditory system when it is functioning inefficiently. One would not expect a listening program to have any effect on the self-restricted diets and feeding problems experienced by those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There are many reports and data that indicate Berard AIT may, in fact, have an effect, due to its overall impact on sensory modulation.

Berard AIT provides an intensive program of electronically modulated music filtered through the Earducator or Audiokinetron. The training requires two half-hour listening sessions for ten days. The novel stimulation, provided with intensity and repetition, provides the key components to trigger neural plasticity and reorganization of the auditory system, which is home to the sensory processing system. Sensory processing problems underlie many of the behaviors exhibited by those with ASD, including some diet and feeding issues.

child with headphonesEating stimulates the five major senses: visual, smell, taste, tactile, and auditory. When the senses are hyper acute (over-sensitive) or hypo-sensitive (under-responsive), the individual does not experience the eating process in a typical manner. Foods may look and smell unappealing; the taste may be too strong or too bland. The textures, whether soft or crunchy, may be objectionable, and the sounds of chewing and swallowing may be overwhelming. Any one, or a combination, of these unpleasant sensations can seriously interfere with the desire to eat.

Parent reports and clinical observations indicate that individuals often expand their diets, accepting and actually requesting and enjoying new foods, after Berard AIT. Individuals who refused crunchy foods may tolerate them well after their sound sensitivity is reduced or eliminated. Some who ate only pureed foods accept and chew solid foods. Some who rejected soft or “mushy” foods begin to enjoy them. The sense of smell seems to become more regulated. Those who were overwhelmed by smell seem to become more tolerant, and those who did not notice smells (hypo-sensitive), begin to notice and comment.

If feeding is an issue, consider these possibilities. For some, ten days of Berard AIT contributes to exciting improvements at mealtimes.

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