There are many things scientists still don’t understand about autism, even though the disorder has been studied at length, and experts still continue to find out everything they can.
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One thing they do know is that it often causes people who suffer from it to act as if they are cut off from the world around them and locked inside their own world instead. This can understandably be frustrating for parents and anyone who knows someone with autism. However, some practitioners are using an interesting treatment method: music.
Dr. Alfred Tomatis is known as a pioneer of using sound as a way to help people with autism, and his approach is certainly an unconventional one. That’s partially because sounds can be very difficult for autistic people to hear.
More specifically, Dr. Tomatis believes patients with autism shut down the hearing mechanism so that certain sounds cannot be recognized during consciousness.
Sound And Communication
The belief you’ve just learned about may be a major reason why people who have been diagnosed with autism also tend to have difficulty communicating. Because they are preventing certain sounds from being processed, they also cut themselves off from types of communication, as well as the emotions that go along with those methods of expression.
How Are The Sounds Blocked?
Although autistic people aren’t consciously doing things to make sure they don’t process some frequencies of sounds, there are things that occur on a physiological level. For example, the muscles inside the middle ear are relaxed, which eventually causes them to lose the ability to recognize sounds correctly.
When that happens, people with autism cannot interpret the sounds they hear in the proper manner. That means, even if they understand things that are said to them, it’s likely the emotional content of the messages heard gets lost to some degree.
What Does Sound Therapy Do?
The type of sound therapy that’s backed by Dr. Tomatis is intended to stimulate the cerebellum and sensory areas of the brain. The goal is to reopen the communication pathways that have been blocked and avoid the types of sensory challenges you’ve read about above. Perhaps most importantly, the technique does not rely upon drugs or anything that could cause harm to a listener.
The General Process
People who are undergoing sound therapy for autism are instructed to listen to specially selected soundtracks through earphones every day. The audio content is a collection of songs and spoken word, but the important factor to keep in mind is that there have been certain things added to the mix, such as tones and extra-high frequencies. Those additions help to encourage the communication pathways to be opened again.
Because those specially engineered sounds stimulate the whole auditory system, they help train the muscles in the middle ear that may have been altered due to a person’s unwillingness to let some sounds filter through.
One of the reasons why Dr. Tomatis uses high frequency sounds is because they are among the first things a child hears when they are developing in a mother’s womb. As a result, Tomatis believes that his therapy helps forge the bond between a person with autism and their mother first, and then with others.
Results may vary, but some people who have relied on sound therapy to treat autism have showed an improved emotional response, which included a better ability to relate with and communicate to others.
Because those things are often very difficult for individuals with an autism diagnosis, sound therapy may be a worthwhile course of action for you to pursue if someone you know and love is challenged by autism every day.