Auditory Integration Training (AIT)

Auditory Integration Training (AIT)

What is Auditory Integration Training (AIT)?

Auditory Integration Training (AIT) is a type of sound therapy, similar to the Tomatis method. It aims to reduce sensitivity to sounds or other problems with how sounds are processed.

Who is Auditory Integration Training (AIT) for?

Auditory Integration Training (AIT) can be used for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), aged three years or older, who have additional sensory problems like painful or hypersensitive hearing.

It isn't suitable for children under three years, or children with an ear wax problem, inner ear damage, ear infections or hearing loss.

What is Auditory Integration Training (AIT) used for?

Auditory Integration Training (AIT) aims to reduce:

  • distortions in hearing
  • extremely sensitive hearing
  • irregularities in how sounds are processed.

These difficulties can cause discomfort or confusion in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Some practitioners also claim that AIT can help to improve speech and language difficulties and other core features of ASD.

Where does Auditory Integration Training (AIT) come from?

Auditory Integration Training (AIT) was developed in the 1960s by an ear, nose and throat specialist, Dr Guy Berard, with the aim of reducing the effects of auditory damage. AIT was first used for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in 1975.

What is the idea behind Auditory Integration Training (AIT)?

Auditory Integration Training (AIT) is based on the idea that our behaviour can be influenced by how we hear. It's also believed that hypersensitive hearing can limit people's ability to learn and pay attention. The therapy aims to reduce sensitivity to sounds and also other problems with how sounds are processed.

What does Auditory Integration Training (AIT) involve?

Children attend two 30-minute training sessions a day for 10 days. In each session, children listen to music on headphones. The music has been altered to remove certain sounds, and the volume is carefully controlled.

The therapy starts by presenting familiar sounds. Over time, more challenging sounds (usually those with a high or low frequency) are introduced. This helps children slowly get used to the sounds so they're no longer a problem.

Cost considerations

Auditory Integration Training (AIT) sessions (total of 20) can range from $1200 to $2000, but costs vary depending on the service or practitioner you use. Audio testing might involve additional costs. Medicare doesn't fund this therapy, so consultations vary in price. Some private health care funds might cover a portion of the consultation fee. This can be claimed immediately if the provider has HICAPS.

Does Auditory Integration Training (AIT) work?

There's no evidence that Auditory Integration Therapy (AIT) or other sound therapies work as treatments for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There's no evidence that AIT helps with speech and language or the core features of ASD.

It's worth noting that the link between sensitive hearing and ASD isn't completely clear and that auditory therapies are still in early development.

To reduce or prevent other hearing issues, it's recommended that children taking part in AIT are examined at the beginning, middle and end of the AIT therapy by a qualified health care professional or auditory specialist. This will help avoid problems like ear wax or fluid build-up and possible damage to eardrums.

Who practises Auditory Integration Training (AIT)?

There are some approved 'Berard practitioners', but there are no formal, internationally registered qualifications for practising Auditory Integration Training (AIT). Some speech and language pathologists might be involved in organisations offering AIT.

Parent education, training, support and involvement

If your child is doing Auditory Integration Training (AIT), your only involvement is taking your child to sessions.

Where can you find a practitioner?

If you're interested in Auditory Integration Training (AIT), it's a good idea to talk about its risks and benefits with your GP or one of the other professionals working with your child. You could also talk about it with your NDIA planner, NDIS early childhood partner or NDIS local area coordination partner, if you have one.

There are many treatments for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They range from those based on behaviour and development to those based on medicine or alternative therapy. Our article on types of interventions for children with ASD takes you through the main treatments, so you can better understand your child's options.