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Theories of AIT (from SAIT Newsletter) 1995 The Sound Connection.


The theories can be classified in different ways, such as


  • those explaining a reduction in auditory peaks

  • a reduction in sound sensitivity

  • and an incerase in attention

  • as well as postulating chage in the middle ear, inner ear, and mid-brain.

  • theories postulating biochemical channels as a result of AIT.


Two AIT theories offer different explanations of why AIT might work. They focus primarily on changes with the listener's ability to change or shift attention.


"Tune In/Tune Out." Bill Clark. (Bill Clark is an audio engineer and designer of the BCG Audio Tone Enhancer/Trainer).


Many autistic children are characterized as being deaf at times. This is consistent with the common description of these children as "living in a shell" and "blocking out" or "tuning out" people in their surroundings. A recent analysis of the E-2 data from the Autism Research Institute in San Diego, California indicated that 50% of parents suspected their autistic children of being "very near deaf".

Bill Clark suggests that the modulation of the AIT music may train the listener to "tune in" to his/her envioronment. Basically, the listener cannot anticipate the random changes of the music during the listening sessions (i.e., modulation); and thus, he/she cannot "tune out" or ignore the music. As a result, the person begins to listen (or "tune in") to the music. The person is then able to generalize "tuning in" to their surroundings.


"Shifting Attention" Stephen M. Edelson.


Researchers have shown that autistic individuals oten have problems shifting their attention from one source to another. Much of this work has been performed by Dr. Eric Courchesne and his colleagues at Children's Hospital in San Diego, California. For example, a common situation might be: a child is playing with a toy and is asked by a parent to get ready for dinner. Initially, the child's attention is focused om the toy, and then he/she needs to shift his/her attention to the parent's instruction. The average non-autistic child can shift his/her attention within one to two seconds. However, an autistic child will continue to perseverate on the toy, and then gradually shift his/her attention to the parent's instruction. It may take 3 to 5 seconds, or even longer, to shift attention.

According to Dr. Courchesne, this inability to shift attention appropriately is a result of structural abnormalities in the cerebellum. Futhermore, Dr. Courchesne proposes that this attention shifting problem may be a critical problem in autism. That is, if a child cannot shift attention in an efficent manner, it will be difficult for him/her to learn about their enviornment, especially to learn language. For example, if a child shifts attention too slowly, he/she will lose the context of what was said and have difficlty understanding.

Dr. Stephen Edelson suggests that AIT may train or condition the listener to shift his/her attention more rapidly and more efficiently. The modulation during the AIT listening sessions changes the music at random intervals. At one moment, music from the low end of the frequency spectrum is presented; and at another moment, music from the high end of the spectrum is presented. The BGC Audio Tone Enhancer/Trainer also changes the volume level at random intervals. One might argue that the listener is trained or taught to shift his/her attention during the listening sessions since the AIT music is constantly changing from low to high frequencies and from soft to loud music.


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