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Language and Learning Difficulties

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ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)

How the Tomatis Method Treats ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) & ADHD (Attention Deficit & Hyperactivity Disorder)

“The first point to be made is that these problems have nothing to do with intellectual potential” Dr Alfred Tomatis

Dr Tomatis’ view is that ADD/ADHD is mainly caused by poor sensory integration. Either the vestibular system is overloaded with too much information, or it doesn’t process enough information and the brain is deprived of the stimulation it needs to function at its best. ADD sufferers therefore “tune-out” to deal with this overload, and ADHD sufferers make up for their lack of stimulation by “stirring things up” with body movements. Improving listening skills is therefore very important in treating these disorders. Clients may have previously done a hearing test, which indicated that their hearing was either perfect or satisfactory. However it is not their hearing capacity which needs investigating, but their ability to listen.

The Tomatis concept is that ADD/ADHD sufferers are unable to focus, analyse or direct their listening, and when faced with a variety of sounds, will take them all in. Thus they will listen with distortion, which means they will have to work much harder to comprehend. This leads them to tire easily, only being able to listen for short periods. Furthermore, they are unable to sort out, classify and organise the information they are listening to. They tend to lose motivation because no matter how hard they try, they can not understand and therefore become more and more discouraged.

Sounds filtered through the ear are the main source of energy for the brain. However someone suffering from ADD will hear all the sounds as one block of noise and being bombarded with sounds, they will “switch off” to protect themselves. In a classroom situation, the child will be unable to focus on what the teacher is saying, but on a one-to one basis, he/she can concentrate better and improve scholastically, but he/she will have to work much harder than the other children.

The Tomatis auditory training exercises the muscles of the middle ear by using a machine called the Electronic Ear, which helps these tiny muscles to work properly. This is done by playing music: mainly Mozart and Gregorian Chant which, when played through the Electronic Ear, will cause the muscles to stretch to catch the higher frequencies, and then relax during the lower frequency sounds. These muscles are therefore getting a “work-out”. This retraining educates the ear to focus properly on specific sounds and to push into the background other extraneous sounds. This is the key to good listening – one must be able to both tune in and to filter out information, that is, to smoothly integrate sensory input.

However the Tomatis Method also works on an emotional level. Emotional blockages can prevent people from listening. They can become stuck emotionally at a younger age, namely the age at which they suffered the original trauma, preventing normal emotional growth and also good listening. Take for example the situation of a person going to a lecture, feeling relaxed and happy and being able to listen carefully so as to absorb what is being said. However if that person were to have had a serious argument before attending the lecture, they would be very emotionally upset and find it too difficult to concentrate on the speaker because of their inner conflicts. People who are trapped in past emotional problems are preventing themselves from moving forward in their lives. The Tomatis Program will not necessarily take away these traumas but will provide clients with the motivation to put them all behind them, so they are able to take control of their lives.

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