What Is Auditory Training, And Will It Help My Child With Autism?

Question: What is auditory training, and will it help my child with autism?

Answer: Auditory integration training, or AIT, became popular in the 1990s after a mother wrote a book about her experiences with auditory training and those helping her daughter. Proponents of AIT state that many symptoms of autism may be due to hypersensitivity to sounds, making some sounds actually painful for children.

The mechanism by which AIT works is somewhat unclear. Children listen to specially modulated music on headphones. The music has had certain frequencies filtered out. And the idea is that by listening to this music, the child's hypersensitivities will regulate and the child will improve. The problem is that when AIT has been looked at carefully in controlled research studies, they have minimal to no benefit. And national policies statements state that speech language pathologists should not be using AIT except in the use of research protocols.

Likewise the American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that the use of AIT is unsupported at this time.