A successful Neuro developmentalist from the UK, and Principal of The Sound Learning Centre, London
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A successful Neuro developmentalist from the UK, and Principal of The Sound Learning Centre, London
Interview by: Shiny Frank
Ms Pauline Allen, a successful Neuro developmentalist from the UK, and Principal of The Sound Learning Centre, London, met with the reporter of way4indians in Kuwait during their training sessions in Kuwait, and spared some time to introduce Auditory Integration Training (AIT) and Lightwave Stimulation (LWS). Way4indians, dedicate this article to those families with differently abled children and who may interested in this particular topic.
Ms Pauline, could you please tell us about “The Sound Learning Centre?”
Certainly. The Sound Learning Centre was established in 1994 and has 20 years experience of assessing and treating children and adults with a wide range of education and development problems. Our research, case studies and media coverage demonstrate how children and adults improve through our treatments. We have regular and training courses for parents and professionals wanting to know more.
The Sound Learning Centre is one of the leading centres in the world offering Auditory Integration Training and is the only one in the UK authorised to provide AIT practitioner training. The technique was developed by Dr. Guy Bérard, an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. Using high fidelity equipment to filter specific sound frequencies, the client listens to specially altered music for 30 minutes, twice a day.
What training and qualifications do the staff at The Sound Learning Centre have?
My background is that of a dyslexia specialist and Neurodevelopmentalist. I am also an AIT Practitioner and trainer and a Light therapy Practitioner and trainer. We have other well trained and qualified assessors and therapists, with backgrounds in psychology, working at the Centre. Please refer to the ‘About the SLC’ section for further details.
Ms Pauline, What kind of difficulties do your clients have?
In essence approximately two thirds of our clients are children and the rest are adults and may have some form of hearing, auditory processing or speech and language difficulty and about one third of the children have been diagnosed on the Autistic Spectrum. Over the years we have helped many clients with a very wide variety of difficulties, many of whom have auditory processing difficulties to some extent and including a number of exceptionally bright and well-performing clients, who simply wished to enhance their performance even further.
Do you see very young children?
Yes, we regularly see children as young as two and occasionally see even younger infants with developmental difficulties, but the minimum age for AIT is 3 years. Our Neuro-developmental programme can be used with very young children and has proved to be very successful in bringing about the required benefits. We can provide an assessment through observations and noting the reactions to specific external stimuli. The assessment and the detailed discussion afterwards is often very enlightening for the parents or carers and normally provides a clear way forward to support the further development of the child.
Ms Pauline, Do you see non-verbal clients?
We see many clients who have no speech, or very limited, verbal skills, from the very young who are still developing their speech to adults who have difficulties acquiring speech. We employ specially adapted tests and observations during the assessment of these clients. About 40 % of our clients are not able to complete our full range of standard clinical tests due to age, lack of verbal skills, attention span or understanding.
Do you treat more than one child in the same family at the same time?
We regularly do so, but we treat each as an individual with their own personalised, programme based on their own individual assessment. This is very efficient for the family from a time-commitment point of view. If required, it is also possible for parents to receive treatment at the same time.
Ms Pauline, Do you treat clients with epilepsy?
Yes, but we are not offering to treat the condition. However we do see clients where epilepsy is just one of the factors in their life. In order to provide appropriate Light therapy we need to know whether seizures are of a photo-convulsive nature. If this is the case, the programme will be adjusted to ensure the risks of seizures is minimised by using a non flashing light. Interestingly a side effect of some of our therapies has been a reduction in the frequency, intensity or duration of seizures.
Do you treat clients with schizophrenia?
Unfortunately we are not able to provide our services to people with paranoid schizophrenia.
Do people have a choice as to which assessments are done?
Yes. Our standard assessment includes a wide range of tests and observations and aims to get a ‘whole person’ view of the presenting conditions. However, we can carry out individual tests when required.
Will you consult the General Practitioner or other Professionals for a medical or personal history?
In general this is not required. However, if any reports are relevant, we request that clients bring these along at the time of the assessment. Client information is kept strictly confidential.
What other information is the client or a parent required to provide?
We have a detailed intake questionnaire which we will ask you to complete.
Ms Pauline, How long does a standard assessment take?
Clients are advised to allow up to three hours for the standard assessment, including completion of the intake questionnaire and the detailed discussion afterwards. It is important that a client is at ease and comfortable during the assessment in order to obtain meaningful results. We will therefore allow for short breaks during the assessment if required
How do you determine which programmes are appropriate?
Our standard assessment is very comprehensive and looks at the hearing, vision and neuro-developmental maturity, in addition to relevant behaviour, ability and emotional state.
This, along with the detailed questionnaire and any relevant reports provided by a client, will provide us with sufficient information on which to base our recommendations.
Where appropriate, we will also recommend the services of other providers that are specialists in their field.
Will a client get a written report after an assessment?
Yes, the client will get a written report of the assessment results together with our recommendations for any programmes we judge might be helpful. Many clients appreciate the comprehensiveness of our reports and have told us they have been useful in discussions with educational and medical professionals.
How long after the assessment can they start any recommended treatments?
If required, AIT and LWS can be commenced immediately following an assessment or up to 6 months after an assessment. If a longer period elapses, some tests may have to be re-taken to ensure the treatment is still relevant to the client.
Ms Pauline, What does the assessment for Auditory Integration Training (AIT) entail?
Where possible, an initial hearing assessment is done which includes a pure tone audiometric test, together with laterality and selectivity tests. For those individuals able to complete the necessary tests, the results determine whether to use additional filters during the AIT programme. If however, the individual is unable to communicate or maintain sufficient attention to give reliable results, we rely on observations and distraction tests and would not use filters.
What does the assessment for Lightwave Stimulation (LWS) entail?
We conduct a visual fields of awareness test. If someone is unable to communicate or complete these tests, we rely on observations and evoked responses when viewing different colours.
Ms Pauline, How do the programmes work?
The principal behind all our programmes is retraining the brain using appropriate and often novel input through one or more senses. Old less useful ways of processing are replaced by new appropriate ways of processing sensory input, thus re-balancing the senses.
How long have you been providing these programmes?
We have been offering our programmes for twenty years.
What research is available?
Please visit our website for further information: http://www.thesoundlearningcentre.co.uk/research/
Ms Pauline, Are these programmes safe?
Yes. All our programmes are non-invasive and non-harmful.
Will the client get a report after each programme?
Yes. We report any improvements that have been identified during the course of the programme. Where appropriate we also record the results of the standard clinical tests, both before and after treatment.
Do programmes have to be repeated?
With Auditory Integration Training (AIT) improvements often continue to occur in the weeks or months following the treatment and one single programme is normally sufficient. If the audiometric test or observed behaviour indicates that further improvements can be made, a second programme may be considered, but normally not until some time has elapsed.
For some clients, additional courses of Lightwave Stimulation (LWS) may be beneficial to generate further improvements. Lightwave Stimulation can also be followed at home through the rental of a portable light machine.
What happens if someone falls ill during the programmes?
We would not want to continue if someone becomes ill, so we would offer a break until he or she was feeling better. In the case of AIT, we continue from where we left off or start again, depending on the time lapse. For LWS, the success of the programme is less time-critical.
Are results guaranteed Ms Pauline?
We cannot guarantee specific results but the outcomes of the programmes have been extremely encouraging. Most clients experience improvements and display very positive results in many areas of their life. These may include improvements in educational, cognitive, emotional, behavioural or social performance as well as general physical well-being. Improvements are sometimes immediate, sometimes continuing to develop further in subsequent weeks and months, sometimes not starting until some time after the programme.
Ms Pauline, How will you tell whether the therapy has been successful?
We carefully monitor progress throughout the period of treatment and ask clients to keep a diary of observations during this period. Where appropriate we conduct standard clinical tests soon after completion of each series of treatments. In our post-treatment report we will highlight relevant changes that have occurred compared with the conditions during the initial assessment. We often feel the real measure of success is how the client feels and performs after the therapies and we regularly receive wonderful testimonials from clients.
Do you conduct longer-term follow-up research?
Yes, clients will be sent post-treatment questionnaires at regular intervals.
Auditory Integration Training (AIT)
What is the duration of sessions for AIT?
Two half hour sessions per day with a minimum three hour interval between sessions over 10 days, either consecutively or two five-day weeks within a 12 day period. Our Centre is open most weekends during school holidays such as half term breaks, Easter, summer and winter holiday periods in order to ensure that the typical ten day treatment period can be taken consecutively in as short a time period as possible.
What does an Auditory Integration Training (AIT) programme entail?
During each session a client listens to music filtered through an Audiokinetron using a pair of high quality closed headphones. The Audiokinetron machine randomly modulates the amplitude of the high and low frequencies in order to retrain the ears to hear in a more balanced way. A range of individual filters may also be used depending upon the results of the audiometric tests.
What is the sound intensity during listening sessions?
The highest intensity that an individual is exposed to during AIT listening sessions varies depending upon the individual. However, it will not exceed 80 dBA SPL (slow scale) and will in practice be at a much lower intensity. Whenever it is not possible to obtain an audiogram, or the individual cannot easily communicate, the starting level is always low and careful observation is made when increasing it. The music should never be uncomfortable to listen to.
What equipment is used for AIT?
The equipment used for AIT at The Sound Learning Centre is the Audiokinetron developed for, and approved by, Dr. Guy Bérard.
What music is used for AIT?
All music used meets the criteria considered appropriate for AIT and are high quality recordings from a list of tracks tested by The Society of Integration Techniques (SAIT) as suitable for use for AIT. The music used should cover a wide range of frequencies, contain a complex mixture of frequencies and have reasonably stable levels. The full auditory bandwidth is used subject to the need to apply filtering based upon audiometric test results.
Can very young children follow an AIT programme?
We also see very young children and can additionally offer a neuro-developmental programme for them. For AIT we follow Dr. Guy Bérard’s recommendation that the minimum age should be three years.
If a child has had a history of ear infections, grommets and antibiotics, can AIT help them?
In many cases this is an indicator that we can probably make a big difference. Many of our clients presenting with speech and language difficulties have such a history. It is quite likely that they missed out on important stages in normal speech and language development while they were in pain or unable to hear well. AIT rebalances the hearing and this seems to restart the development process.
Are there any side effects during AIT?
You may notice behavioural or mood changes and, very occasionally, feelings of nausea. These are short-lived and generally indicate the programme is taking effect.
Lightwave Stimulation (LWS)
What is the duration of sessions for LWS?
Twenty minute sessions, twice a day. A series consists of 20 sessions, taken over a period of 10 days at our Centre.
What does a LWS programme entail?
Following an assessment a personalised programme of different colours, each with their own particular flicker rates, is recommended. During each session, in a darkened environment the client looks at the coloured light emanating from a Lumatron or a Photron machine.
Often your clients do both AIT and LWS, is the Light treatment given at the same time as Sound treatment?
We often recommend a combined AIT and LWS protocol as this maximises the sensory input and has proven to be very effective. The treatments are, however, not given at the same time, but in close succession. During the first appointment each day we normally first provide 30 minutes of AIT, followed by 20 minutes of LWS. Then, some hours later during the second appointment, we first provide 20 minutes of LWS, followed by 30 minutes of AIT.
Neuro-developmental Programme (NDP)
What does the Neuro-developmental programme entail?
A full neuro-developmental assessment may last up to 3 hours. The tests cover gross and fine muscle co-ordination, balance, patterns of motor development, presence of aberrant reflexes, laterality, oculo-motor functions and visual perceptual ability.
On the basis of these tests, a personal programme of Reflex Inhibition exercises is prepared for the client to carry out at home. The home exercise programme typically requires 20 minutes a day. The client returns at intervals for progress monitoring and adjustment of the programme as appropriate.
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