The Tomatis Method

I also choose to post more information on this therapy method as Marina Grobler was one of the people I contacted in my search.

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The Tomatis® method is a type of sound therapy.

 It aims to improve listening and communication skills. The person uses headphones to listen to electronically modified music as well as other sounds, such as a mother’s voice.

 Who is it for?
Supporters of the Tomatis® method argue that it can be used to help people with language and speech difficulties, including children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

 What is it used for?
The Tomatis® method aims to improve speech and language skills, communication and behaviour. It’s also supposed to help with balance and coordination difficulties and to help people manage depression and anxiety.

 It has been used by singers and actors to improve their voices. Some people have used it to help with learning a new language.

 Where does it come from?
This method was developed in the 1960s by Dr Alfred Tomatis, a French ear, nose and throat specialist. Tomatis was interested in the difference between hearing and listening.

 What is the idea behind it?
Hearing is a passive process in which the ear simply perceives sound. It’s possible to hear sound without actually taking in the meaning of what you’re hearing.

 But listening is an active process. You concentrate on what you hear, and your brain processes the information. You choose what information to take in and what to filter out – for example, when you’re having a conversation with someone, you focus on what the person is saying and filter out the noise of traffic outside.

 Tomatis believed that people who can hear might not be able to listen properly because their middle ear muscles aren’t working properly.

 According to Tomatis, listening to modified music can exercise the muscles in the ear and can stimulate connections between the ear and the brain. This can improve listening.

Tomatis believed that listening ability affects spoken and written language development and communication.

 What does it involve?
The therapy involves the person listening to music (usually Mozart and Gregorian chants). The music has been filtered using an electronic device called the electronic ear to emphasise the high-frequency sounds.

 Sound travels to the inner ear through air conduction and bone conduction. In air conduction, sound travels through the outer ear to the middle ear, where it is changed to bone conduction and is sent to the inner ear. In bone conduction, sound travels through the skull directly to the inner ear, bypassing the middle ear.

 In the Tomatis® method, a person uses special headphones that transmit sound directly to the bones as well as through the air.

 Typically, the treatment involves an initial phase of 15 days with two hours listening each day. This is followed by around 3-5 weeks off and then another 2-3 blocks of two hours listening each day for 8-10 days. These blocks also have time off between them.

 Does it work?
Some studies have shown the Tomatis® method can increase social interaction and communication, and reduce stereotypical movements. But because of the methods used in these studies, the results can’t be attributed specifically to the Tomatis® method.

 Only one well-controlled experimentally designed study has been conducted so far. Its results suggest that the Tomatis® method doesn’t improve language skills in people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

 More high-quality research is needed to determine the effectiveness of the Tomatis® method for people with ASD.

 Who practises this method?
Certified Tomatis® practitioners are members of the International Association of Registered Certified Tomatis Consultants. They follow a code of Standards of Practice and Ethical Principle, which governs the professional use of the Tomatis® method.

 Parent education, training, support and involvement
No parental involvement is needed other than taking a child to sessions.

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