The Autism File

HARVEY's Auditory Training Integration
Tara Randall
Mother to Harvey

HarveyOur son Harvey was diagnosed as having a receptive language delay in the context of a pervasive development disorder at the age of three. At that time he hardly spoke, he had no concept of names so he didn’t call me Mum and didn’t respond to his own name. He had little imaginary play, walked on his toes and was sensitive to certain sounds.

Now, a year later, we have come so far with him and most recently have seen a huge improvement after Auditory Integration Training (AIT) treatment. The best advice I was given was not from the NHS, but from a mother of an autistic boy. She stressed the importance of early intervention.

Her son had made a huge progress using Lovaas, and although I realised that Lovaas was probably not the best route for Harvey’s problems, I knew I had to take action. I immediately got him into Blossom House, a private language school. Fortunately I had financial support from family and friends. I also did a sponsored swim with three friends which raised the money for an extra day. It is incredible how amidst the turmoil and grief of realising you have a ‘special’ child you can find enormous reserves.

He went for two days a week and the rest of the time he was in a small mainstream nursery. Harvey started talking within a few months and as his language fell into place his imaginary play started to develop. However, right up until the AIT, he was still having immense difficulty at school. He wouldn’t concentrate or focus. He was having tantrums, he would give up very easily saying ‘I can’t do it , it’s too hard for me’.

In fact on the morning before AIT started we went to the school sports day, we were so depressed seeing him giving staff the run around, we felt there was little chance of him surviving mainstream school. As we went through this year, I found my life course was changing. I did a course on brain gym. I picked up a book about children with special needs called Dancing In The Rain edited by Annabel Stehli, the mother of an autistic girl, cured by AIT (Anglo American Books 01267 211880). It was collection of stories of children’s responses to AIT. As I read through the stories I kept thinking ‘that’s Harvey’. I was nervous about it as some of the stories spoke of regression but when I found out how it worked, it related to everything I had been learning on the brain gym course and it made a lot of sense to me.The child listens to music at 80 decibels on headphones with certain frequencies taken out. This exercises the vestibular system.

Then halfway through the treatment, you take the left ear down to 50 decibels making the right ear the dominant ear. So when the child hears they process through the right ear which connects directly to the left language side of the brain. We decided to go ahead. We found the place called the Rêve Pavilion which carried out AIT at a very reasonable price. We went to see the psychologist Elizabeth Thomas who attempted an audiogram on Harvey which was impossible.

Harvey would not wear the headphones and didn’t understand the concept of hearing a sound and pressing a button. I felt very downhearted as I felt that maybe he was too young. Elizabeth put no pressure on me but said that she thought Harvey would be a good candidate for AIT. She showed me how to use the AudioKinnetron. I was also nervous about this as I would be administering the treatment myself. My anxieties were soon overcome as it is an extremely easy machine to use . The Rêve Pavilion knows how hard it can be for parents financially and so don’t charge when supervision isn’t necessary.

Also as it can be quite hard getting a child to sit still with the music, you are free as a parent to be firm, bribe etc without inhibition. Below is a diary of the treatment.

Prayed for a miracle today. Harvey had his sports day and although some structure is there it is very difficult for him. Chasing around cheekily just not understanding that he needed to sit down and wait his turn. He just does his own thing. This is so worrying in respect of mainstream school. I hope Dorset (soon to move there) will offer the support he needs and I’m praying that this AIT will work. His first session went OK. We had really prepared him using the headphones with the computer. We have allowed him on the computer too much, but it was worth it as he put the headphones on easily unlike in his audiogram session.

Harvey was very chatty, jolly. First session went well with lots of crisps.

Settled well but a bit hyperactive after the session. Second visit - he seemed to be really getting into the music (Bob Marley). More wilful today, not so compliant. We felt a bit of regression today, but still lots of good stuff.

A really good day! He seemed a bit tired this morning, bit puffy around the eyes. A bit tearful on arrival but lay down straight away. We didn’t need to distract him so much today. We started him at 70 decibels, then after 5 minutes moved him to 80, he didn’t seem perturbed but did lots of eye squeezing. He asked ‘will this make my ears better?’ He was pleased with lots of cheers and a present at the end. This was the best, most relaxing, day I had ever had with him. Harvey was a very good boy on the second session. He likes me to lie there with him and cuddle him. Afterwards we went to my mother’s house where he had a long conversation about sharks. We were all stunned and very excited. He was really alive and vibrant singing songs, dancing along, he seemed very happy. He was confident in speech, had direct eye contact and a sense of humour. A fantastic day.
Thank God!

In between sessions, he had a Sunflower Method consultation. (Also offered at Rêve, we are still doing this, I will write an update when I know more.) He was brilliant, he co-operated totally and seemed to understand what was asked of him. He would never have done that before, we were so pleased. After the second session, Harvey was tired.

Today we made the right ear dominant. In the break we went to a castle, all these trips have become a lot easier. Harvey seems confident, but a bit rebellious today. Much happier about the second session, he just accepts it. It’s as if he knows it’s making him better. A good day, but I want more progress. I feel the days are running out, I have lots of little miracles and I‘m impatient. However, I know from reading that the results continue to develop even after treatment stops.

I was very tired and emotional today. I took him on my own. It’s very moving going through these changes in your child. There is so much desperation and hope, and we only have three days left. I must remember that progress continues, I suppose that if you make the right ear dominant, then every time he uses it he is building stronger neural pathways to the left brain.

Took him alone again. Had a wonderful conversation in the car with him, it lasted about 20 minutes. A far cry from the one question, one answer before.You don’t have to talk so slowly, or repeat things anymore. Very hungry and thirsty today. At the park we saw baby ducklings. He said, ‘This one is my favourite’. He has not understood the concept of favourite until now. A very positive day.

Harvey found the second session hard today. I think he’s had enough of it. Drank a lot.

DAY 10
Last day, it’s been an amazing week. We are all very tired but I am hopeful for Harvey. He has made so much progress in 10 days. He is a different boy from the boy at sports day. He came in this morning and asked if he could go down and watch TV. He put the computer on alone and got into a maths programme, spelling ‘maths’ to do so. The last few days he has had more hunger and thirst, and I haven’t noticed him walking on toes so much. We feel he has improved so much, we feel like shouting it from the rooftops to every parent out there with a child with problems. We also know that these children are all so individual, what works for one child may not for another. I have heard a few people say they have ‘heard’ mixed reports about AIT. My only advice would be to read Dancing In The Rain and decide for yourself. If you do decide to go for it, prepare your child by using headphones the week before.

It is now 5 weeks since our AIT session and Harvey has continued to improve. Everyone we know has noticed a huge difference in him. He responds to everything you say, you can speak at normal speed, he is easy company, has far fewer tantrums and his self-esteem has grown. He loves books, sings songs, joins in, interacts with other children and initiates conversation all the time. He still has some sound sensitivity but I think this is more habit than pain. Yesterday, he sat right in the middle of screaming children who were watching Punch and Judy with no problems. Life is much, much easier since AIT. I have such belief in Harvey and I am full of hope for his future.


In issue 1
Autumn 1999 …

Jonathan Tommey reports
Secretin: towards
a clearer picture
Harvey's AIT
Homeopathic secretin: A mother's report
Shunned, brickwalled, tired but hopeful
The homepathic treatment of autism
Protocol for the treatment of autism
Will he or won't he eat it
Life with an Asperger child
Our search for intervention and support
Autism and MMR / Testing for Parasites