Auditory integration training (AIT Berard)
What is the Berard method of Auditory Integration Training (AIT)?
With the wide range of sound therapy programs currently available, it can be difficult for parents and therapists to make the right choice. There are at least three known methods of Auditory Integration Training (AIT) programs, the Berard, Tomatis and Clark (BGC) methods. This article focuses on the Berard method of Auditory Integration Training (AIT) program. We explored the program’s components, effectiveness in producing noticeable results, pricing details, and how it compares to alternative options.
A traditional approach to sound therapy with costly requirements and limited modernization
The Berard method of AIT was created by Dr. Guy Berard in the 80s. It is a sound therapy program that aims to improve auditory processing and sensory integration in individuals with various challenges through the use of specialized equipment and personalized sound stimulation. In comparison to other alternatives or complementary approaches like Forbrain® or Soundsory®, which offer user-friendly home-based treatment programs, the Berard method of AIT has seen limited updates since the 90s, while supervision of a trained professional is still required. This makes Berard AIT a relatively costly option.
✅ Similar approach to the Tomatis method
❌ Outdated equipment and method
❌ Relatively expensive
What is the Berard Auditory Integration Training (AIT) program?
The Berard Auditory Integration Training (AIT) program is a listening therapy developed in 1982 by Dr. Guy Berard, a French ear, nose, and throat specialist.
It involves the use of specially modified music and sound therapy to stimulate the auditory system and improve its processing capabilities. The program is designed to help individuals with auditory processing disorders, learning disabilities, and sensory processing issues. It aims to enhance listening skills, reduce hypersensitivity to sound, and improve overall communication and behavioral functioning. The Berard AIT program typically involves multiple sessions conducted over a specific duration, with each session tailored to the individual’s needs and goals.
Who can benefit from Berard AIT?
Berard AIT is believed to offer potential benefits to individuals who experience challenges related to auditory processing and sensory integration. While individual responses may vary, Berard AIT is often considered for individuals who exhibit symptoms or conditions such as:
– Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD): Berard AIT may be considered as part of a comprehensive intervention approach for individuals on the autism spectrum.
– Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD): Berard AIT aims to address these difficulties by improving auditory processing and integration.
– Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Berard AIT is sometimes explored as a complementary therapy to support individuals with ADHD by potentially enhancing attention and self-regulation skills.
– Communication and Language Disorders: Berard AIT may be considered for individuals with speech and language delays, auditory processing disorders, or other communication challenges.
– Learning Disabilities: Some individuals with learning disabilities, including difficulties in reading, writing, and comprehension, may explore Berard AIT as a part of their intervention plan.
Where is Berard AIT coming from?
It is important to note that initially, Dr. Guy Berard developed Auditory Integration Training (AIT) as a treatment for his own hearing loss and tinnitus. It later gained recognition in Europe for its potential in addressing dyslexia. However, information about AIT was not widely available to the English-speaking public for many years as Dr. Guy Berard’s book, “Hearing Equals Behavior,”  was originally written in French  and not translated into English. When AIT was introduced in the United States, there was initially limited interest and skepticism among professionals. The Stehli family, who had personal experience with AIT, made efforts to share their knowledge and raise awareness about its benefits in autism. They connected with Dr. Bernard Rimland from the Autism Research Institute, who showed great interest in AIT. Dr. Rimland, along with Dr. Stephen Edelson, conducted research on the effectiveness of AIT for autism using an Audiokinetron obtained from Dr. Guy Berard. Meanwhile, in Montreal, Canada, Dr. Gerard Binet had already been offering AIT to clients with special needs. After being handed over to Dr. Stephen Edelson, the current leadership is now with Sally Brockett in the USA.
Which equipment is needed for Berard AIT?
There are multiple versions of the audio equipment used for AIT based on their timelines for development. Some of the older versions can still be found at qualified practitioners’ offices today.
– Audiokinetron: also called the Ears Education and Retraining System (EERS), this is the original device designed by Dr. Berard in the early 90s. It is no longer produced nor serviced. Due to difficulties in importing the Audiokinetron, a similar device was created by US engineer Bill Clark, called the BGC device. The old BGC device may still be in use but is no longer being manufactured. The Digital Auditory Aerobics (DAA) device is another hardware-based device, which replicates the auditory output of the original Audiokinetron. Studies and research conducted using the Audiokinetron can be applied to the outcomes obtained with the DAA device. The DAA device was made available for purchase in the United States in 1998 and is not regulated by the FDA.
– Earducator: the Earducator device was made available globally for AIT and received Dr. Guy Berard’s approval and endorsement in 1998. It is important to note that the Earducator device is not subject to regulation by the FDA and is considered an educational device. It was developed by Rosalie Seymour, an AIT practitioner in South Africa, in an effort to make the therapy more affordable.
– Filtered sound training (FST): Rosalie Seymour collaborated with a team from Dataworks, a customized programming company located in Ireland, to further investigate affordable approaches to make AIT more accessible to clients. Together, they developed FST, a PC-based program that replicates the effects of older hardware devices used in AIT. Some practitioners like the AIT institute offer supervised AIT at home sessions utilizing the latest FST system.
Before the introduction of the FST system, families interested in AIT had to depend on in-person sessions conducted by certified practitioners, which typically spanned a period of ten days for the complete training. This arrangement often causes stress and inconvenience, particularly for families with busy schedules or individuals with work obligations.
What is the evidence behind Berard AIT?
The evidence behind Berard AIT is a topic of ongoing debate and discussion within the scientific community. While some studies have reported positive outcomes and benefits associated with AIT, others have raised concerns about the methodology and lack of controlled research.
Proponents of AIT often cite anecdotal evidence and testimonials from individuals who claim to have experienced improvements in areas such as sensory processing, attention, communication, and behavior following AIT sessions. They argue that AIT can be beneficial for individuals with certain auditory processing difficulties or sensory integration issues.
One technical report published in 2003 by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) concluded that the available evidence was not enough to support the use of AIT as a standalone treatment for individuals with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental disabilities. The review highlighted limitations in study design, small sample sizes, lack of control groups, and inconsistent outcome measures as factors contributing to the overall inconclusive findings.
It is worth mentioning that scientific research in this field is ongoing, and new studies may contribute to the understanding of AIT’s effectiveness and its potential benefits for specific populations.
How much time is typically required for Berard AIT?
In traditional AIT programs, the treatment typically involves daily sessions over a period of 10 consecutive days. Each session usually lasts around 30 minutes, resulting in a total of approximately 5 hours of therapy over the course of the program.
It is important to note that this is a general guideline, and the exact duration and frequency of AIT sessions may vary based on the practitioner, individual needs, and treatment plan. Some practitioners may offer variations of AIT that involve different session lengths or scheduling arrangements.
Where can Berard AIT be practiced?
Berard AIT can be practiced by certified Berard AIT practitioners in a variety of settings, including:
– Clinics or Therapy Centers: These facilities are specifically designed to provide a conducive environment for AIT, with appropriate equipment and resources.
– Educational Institutions: Some schools, especially those specializing in special education or developmental disorders, may offer Berard AIT as part of their intervention services. AIT sessions may be conducted within the school premises by trained staff or in collaboration with external practitioners.
– Private Practices: Independent practitioners who are certified in Berard AIT may operate their private practices where they offer AIT sessions.
– Home-Based AIT: These programs typically involve the use of computer-based or digital systems that can deliver AIT remotely. Families or individuals can receive AIT in the comfort of their own homes but this still requires the supervision or guidance of a certified practitioner.
The availability of trained professionals may vary and be limited in some regions or countries.
Can Berard AIT be individualised?
It can be individualized to some extent. While the core principles and techniques of AIT remain consistent, the treatment can be tailored based on an initial assessment conducted by a certified practitioner.
The Berard AIT program can be customized by selecting specific frequency filters and modulation settings to address the individual’s auditory sensitivities or processing difficulties. The practitioner may also consider the individual’s specific goals, such as improving attention, reducing sensory overload, or enhancing communication skills, and incorporate strategies accordingly.
How much does Berard AIT cost?
For individuals, the cost of Berard AIT varies depending on the provider. In general, the cost of a complete AIT program can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars, excluding the travelling costs and time necessary to get AIT delivered at a practitioner’s office.
While some insurance plans may cover a portion of the cost, others may consider it an educational intervention rather than a medical treatment and thus may not provide coverage.
For professionals, the price of the equipment is around USD 4,800 and a 4-5 days training costs around USD 2,000.
What are the alternatives or complementary approaches to Berard AIT?
Berard AIT and the Tomatis® Method are both auditory interventions that aim to address auditory processing difficulties and promote overall well-being. While they share some similarities, there are also notable differences between the two approaches.
While Berard AIT focuses on modulating auditory input to retrain the auditory system, the Tomatis® Method, created by Dr. Alfred Tomatis, emphasizes on listening training and vocalization exercises to enhance auditory processing and communication skills.
In Berard AIT, the frequency range and intensity of sounds are modulated to stimulate the auditory system. The Tomatis Method focuses on specific frequency ranges, including high frequencies, and uses a broader range of sound types such as classical music, mother’s voice, and vocal exercises.
Over 100 studies have provided evidence for the effectiveness of the Tomatis® Method, with some of these studies being published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. This approach involves the use of a personalized dynamic filter to deliver filtered voice and music. Each individual’s parameters, including dynamic filters, air and bone sound conductions, can be customized to meet their specific needs.
To begin the process, a preliminary assessment called TLTS (Tomatis Listening Test Session) is conducted, which lasts approximately 90 minutes. A typical Tomatis® program consists of daily 60-minute sessions for 14 days. These sessions incorporate listening to music and engaging in language activities. The program is then repeated 2-3 times, with a break of 4-6 weeks between each repetition.
The Tomatis Equipment comprises professional equipment called Talks-Up, specialized air and bone conduction headphones known as INFINITE, and follow-up programs with various settings. The Tomatis® Method is administered by certified professionals in dedicated Tomatis® centers or under supervision at home.
Forbrain® offers an additional brain workout to the Berard AIT program.
The Forbrain® headphone incorporates several key features including a dynamic filter, a microphone, and bone conduction. This innovative design improves specific vocal patterns by transmitting the user’s voice directly through bone structure instead of relying on air conduction. The electronic dynamic filter isolates and amplifies the user’s voice while effectively eliminating background noise, providing a beneficial sensory experience for the nervous system. Moreover, it enhances the production of long vowels and other essential language-building sounds.
To optimize the auditory feedback loop, the resulting sound is transmitted to the nervous system and brain via bone conduction rather than traditional ear or air conduction.
A typical program using the Forbrain® headphone spans six weeks, with daily sessions lasting 20 minutes.
The Soundsory® program offers a similar approach to Berard AIT but is much cheaper as it is made of user-friendly equipment which can be used at the convenience of your own home. It combines a set of movement-based exercises with specially composed music that has undergone neuro-acoustic processing. The main goal of Soundsory® is to lay solid foundations for more advanced cognitive processes, starting with the basics of sensory integration. When used independently, the program lasts for 40 days at a rate of 30 minutes per day.
Who delivers Berard AIT?
The Berard method of AIT is typically delivered by certified Berard AIT practitioners. They should possess knowledge and expertise in administering AIT protocols, assessing individuals’ auditory processing abilities, and customizing the treatment to meet individual needs.
Certified Berard AIT practitioners’ availability may be restricted depending on the location. The Berard AIT website offers a list of certified practitioners.
Prerequisites to enter the course include to have a Master’s or Doctoral Degree or a Bachelor’s Degree with a minimum of 5 years of practical experience in a field related to special needs and/or developmental disabilities, personal development, career enhancement, family therapy, health and wellness, or a similar area.
The original version of Berard AIT is primarily targeted towards professionals and has seen limited updates since the 1990s. While some Berard AIT home programs have been made available to try and make access more affordable, it remains necessary to get supervision from a certified AIT professional. Therefore, it remains relatively costly compared to other home-based programs like Soundsory®or Forbrain®.
- Berard G. (1993) Hearing Equals Behaviour, Keats Publishing, New Canaan, CT
- Berard G. (1982) Audition égale comportement. Sainte-Ruffine: Maisonneuve [Google Scholar]