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The Sound Learning Centre Open Day

Tucked away on a quite suburban street in Palmers Green, London, is the Sound Learning Centre. Run by Pauline Allen and her husband Phil, the centre offers a range of sound, light and movement based therapies for helping children with autism, dyslexia and other developmental problems. Recently I attended an open day to see first hand what the centre offered.

The centre is a converted house that contains the assessment and treatment rooms as well as all the administrative office space. Unlike, for example, DDAT its obvious from the moment you walk in and meet Pauline and Phil that this is not a large business intent on maximizing profits. Whilst the Sound Learning Centre is undoubtedly run as a business, everyone there has a genuine interest in helping children and adults overcome their problems.

As the centre’s name suggests, sound therapy is a major aspect of their work. This is focused on Dr Guy Berard‘s Auditory Integration Training (AIT) and The Sound Learning Centre is the only place in the UK authorized by Dr Berard. AIT is a system where the user listens to selected music through an AudioKinetron, a device that modulates the music, dropping out certain frequencies of sound. The AIT programme requires the user to have two 30 minute listening sessions a day, not less than three hours apart for ten consecutive days. The purpose behind this treatment is deal with hyper (over) and hypo (under) sensitivities to certain frequencies of sound, particularly in the range of 2,000 and 8,000 Hertz. This frequency range is important as a lot of the sounds in spoken english that dyslexics have difficulty with are in that range. Whilst the exact reasons why these sensitivities exist or why resolving them can have such an impact has not been proven, the treatment programme appears to work. In a review of 28 studies on AIT, 23 where shown to have demonstrate improvements in those treated. I quizzed Phil on how successful the Sound Learning Centre’s treatment was and he indicated that of all the children and adults he had worked with, he could think of only two case where the client demonstrated no improvement. Both Phil and Pauline both stressed that whilst some children showed significant progress in the ten days of the treatment in others the progress was more subtle, even as simple as improved eye contact. Anecdotal evidence gleaned for several websites points to many improvements coming six to nine months after AIT as the child assimilates the changes in their hearing into their behavior.

In addition to sound therapy, the Sound Learning Centre also offers light based treatments. The user spends 20 minutes, twice a day, looking into an Lumatron, a device that generates light of varying colour and intensity. This reduces light sensitivity which can be present in dyslexics, autistics and similar problems.

The third prong of the Sound Learning Centre’s treatments is movement based. They follow the programme devised by the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology (INPP). More details of the INPP approach can be found in this review of the INPP’s training course.

The Sound Learning Centre offers a range of therapies and can work with a huge range of problems in children and adults. As the centre is not focused on one particular approach and by careful assessment of each patient it is possible to carefully match treatments to the child rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach. That the sound and light treatments require frequent attendance over a ten day period is both good and bad. It means the treatment programme is short but it could be highly disruptive to your day to day routine and for those outside London it will require additional expense for accommodation.

The centre has been operating for nine years and its staff are clearly dedicated. Based on their open day I recommend that if you are looking for help with autism, dyslexia or ADHD, you talk to the Sound Learning Centre.

The next open day is on the 19th August 2004.