If your child has recently been diagnosed with autism or an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you may be wondering whether there is anything you can do to help improve your child's ability to function in the outside world. The number of children and teens being diagnosed with an ASD continues to rise, and one fortunate side effect of this unfortunate statistic is the creation of a variety of therapies targeted to managing symptoms of autism and helping those with ASDs learn to cope with common stressors. One specific therapy may hold some promise for those on the autism spectrum who have trouble communicating verbally or understanding others' verbal cues. Read on to learn more about sound therapy and how it may be able to help your child.
What is Auditory Integration Therapy (AIT)?
AIT, often referred to as "sound therapy," is a type of physical therapy designed to help your child better understand others, as well as assist your child in communicating his or her own thoughts, emotions, and needs.
Many children who have an ASD struggle with either hyper- or hyposensitivity when it comes to language. Language hyposensitivity can cause children to either skip words when listening (so the child who appears to hear only half of what you say at any given time truly does only hear half). Meanwhile, hypersensitive listeners will become easily overwhelmed when they find themselves in a situation with multiple voices or noises present, which is why many autistic children may be prone to public meltdowns or withdrawal.
AIT is designed to help strengthen the parts of the brain that process sound and speech. During a therapy session, your child will listen to electronically modified music through a set of noise-canceling headphones. It is believed that the specific modifications made to this music cause the child to listen more closely, and can help better utilize the parts of the brain that process speech.
As therapy sessions continue, the child will be able to exercise greater control over his or her ability to listen (for hyposensitive patients) or process multiple sounds at once (for hypersensitive patients).
Can AIT help your child?
If you believe one of the manifestations of your child's autism includes speech processing difficulties, ask your child's doctor about a referral to a certified therapist. You may find that repeated exposures to certain sounds will help your child learn to cope with living in a noisy and often confusing world.
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