The Listening Centres

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  • How The Listening Therapy successfully treats:

    "Tell me how you speak, read and write and I will tell you how you listen."

    Over the past forty years, Dr. Alfred Tomatis has developed an approach which has been successfully treating children with Dyslexia and learning problems. He discovered that dyslexia stems from impaired listening. He also showed that dyslexia can be treated by restoring the listening abilities.

    Dr. Tomatis has found that the ear plays a fundamental role in language development. Scientific evidence confirms that children already hear when still in the womb. 

    After birth, their language develops primarily through hearing the language spoken by their parents. Through imitation and play, they learn the frequencies of the mother tongue. Only a good integration of the spoken language will make it possible to develop good writing and reading skills. A good ear is therefore the key element for mastering the language. But as one may look without seeing, one may hear without listening. Listening requires the desire to focus on sounds. Dr. Tomatis identifies this lack of desire as a major cause of learning disabilities. Poor listening makes poor learning.

    To listen well, the ear must be able to analyse the sounds correctly. Natural sounds are very complex and are a mixture of high and low frequencies. The ear must be able to distinguish them properly. Dyslexic children are unable to do so. Thus they often have a hesitant and monotonous speech, with confusion or reversal of letters. The same distortions will occur in their spelling and reading. Indeed reading and writing require that we associate a graphic sign with a sound in a single time frame. This becomes terribly difficult or even impossible when sounds are not clearly discriminated.

    Dr. Tomatis also discovered that as we have a dominant hand, a dominant eye etc... we have a dominant ear. He showed that the right ear must be the leading ear to listen well. Indeed the transmission of the sound to the language centre in the left brain is much shorter from the right ear.

    Why do these listening distortions occur? Dr. Tomatis says that "all infants coming into the world have the potential to listen well". But there are a large variety of reasons that would alter our listening; history of ear infections, an early separation from the mother, a move, an accident or any emotional distress in early life. As a result the child closes off from the world of listening and from the world of communication. The child ends up perceiving the world through its own filter or distortions, he moves in a "dyslexified world" cut off from his family, peers, the school system... Dyslexia is not limited to a learning difficulty but often embraces a personal development impairment.

    About the treatment

    Tomatis training starts with a Listening Test that measures the frequency responses, the ability to discriminate the sounds and the ear-dominance. A thorough interview with the parents completes the assessment. Then a programme and a number of sessions is devised to meet the individuals needs.

    The sessions consist of a stimulation of the ears via the Electronic Listening Device* in order to correct the listening distortions. A minimum treatment is a period of 13 days followed by 7 days with a 3 - 5 week break. A further 7 days might be required depending on the case and the progress. Parents and teachers usually report great changes in communication and behaviour shortly after the first session. They also note an increase in the motivation to learn with an improvement in reading, writing , concentration etc... Further listening tests confirm the changes.

    This treatment offers a person suffering from dyslexia a real chance to fully use their own potential and creativity. Traditional methods of education will work when good listening skills are well developed. The Tomatis Method provides this ability for those who need it.

    * The Electronic Listening Device. A set of headphones. a microphone and a system of electronic "gates" which filter sounds to specific frequencies. Altogether a sort of working model of the real ear. The device trains the ears to function without distortion until one’s own can do the job themselves unaided.

    Case Studies: Bryan's Story or Jack's Story


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