Spectrum Tomates Center Tuxedo Park NY
Valerie Dejean
writes on Vestibular Dysfunction


Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD/ADHD)
 By Valerie Dejean,

 Director, Spectrum Center and Certified Tomatis Consultant

 Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) are terms familiar to most, as it is regularly discussed in the media. Most people perceive individuals with these disorders as persons who are easily distracted and overly impulsive or restless. Some individuals with Attention Deficit Disorder, however, are actually very quiet and to themselves; they seem almost "not there". But what is ADD? What are its causes and, more importantly, what can be done to help individuals with Attention Deficit Disorders?

 More than one million American children are diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, and the majority of them are taking medication, an issue of great concern to many parents and professionals. A review of scientific literature shows that ADD is hotly debated among experts. Some feel that ADD syndrome lacks supportive evidence and should be clinically discarded (G. Coles, L. Fleisher, and P. Breggin).

 Others believe that ADD is a neurological syndrome, the cause of which might be genetic. Endorsers of this view admit, however, that the exact underlying mechanism of ADD is unknown: There is no single lesion of the brain, no single neurotransmitter system, no single gene we have identified that triggers ADD. (Hallowell and Ratey). Running counter to the neuro-biological explanation is the fact that ADD is diagnosed more often in boys than girls and ten times more often in America than in Europe. In fact, the Japanese report very few cases of ADD.

As you can see, ADD is a riddle far from being solved. Sensory Integration and ADD Little attention has been given to the possibility that a lack of sensory integration might play a role in ADD. Jean Ayres, the pioneer of Sensory Integration Theory, pointed out that poor sensory integration could lead to both hyperactivity and poor attention. She concluded that these problems arise when the vestibular system, located in the inner ear, does not function well. "A well-modulated vestibular activity is very important for maintaining a calm, alert state. The vestibular system also helps keep the level of arousal of the nervous system balanced. An under-active vestibular system contributes to hyperactivity and distractibility because of the lack of its modulating influence."

What happens if the vestibular system cannot integrate sensory information well? There are actually two possibilities. In some cases, the vestibular system becomes overloaded with too much information. As a protective response, it "tunes out" in order to calm things down. This tuning out of stimuli is diagnosed as attention deficit. In other cases, the vestibular system is unable to provide the brain with the sensory stimulation it needs in order to function optimally. In response, the body finds other ways of stimulating the vestibule and brain, such as constant body movement.

This response would be diagnosed as hyperactivity.

he fact that many individuals display a mixture of attention deficit and hyperactivity indicates that both forms of dysfunction can occur within the same person. Praxis, or motor planning is another sensory integration function that provides a foundation for attention. Praxis is a uniquely human quality that allows individuals to develop higher-level skills and to interact purposefully with each other and the world. Individuals with dyspraxia are often unable to competently use objects or successfully play with toys because they cannot come up with a plan to organize their movements. As a result, they do not give their full attention to any of these activities. We all need the feedback of successful interactions with the environment and others to maintain sustained attention. Otherwise our involvements are fleeting.
Dr. Alfred Tomatis, Listening, and ADD Jean Ayres' Sensory Integration Theory implies that one can overcome ADD by retraining the vestibular system. Dr. Alfred Tomatis, the French Ear, Nose, and Throat physician responsible for developing the Tomatis Method of auditory stimulation, agrees wholeheartedly. Since the inception of Tomatis' auditory re-education program, thousands of individuals diagnosed with ADD have benefited from auditory stimulation or "listening training."

Tomatis draws a sharp distinction between hearing and listening. Hearing is the passive reception of sound. Listening involves both the ability and desire to tune in to the auditory information around us as well as to filter out unwanted stimulation. Individuals with ADD, like all of us, are constantly bombarded with information. However, since their tuning and filtering mechanisms are not functioning properly, individuals with ADD are unable to sort out, classify, and organize the information they are receiving. A new stimulus comes that requires their attention, but they are unable to focus on it because they already need to attend to the next stimulus, and so on.

 In a sense, individuals with ADD are extremely attentive, too attentive because they have no barrier to protect themselves from the continuous barrage of information around them. To break this cycle, individuals with ADD need to train the ear to tune in to, and filter out, stimuli; in other words, to integrate sensory input effectively. Tomatis' method of auditory stimulation, combined with sensory integration activities that stimulate the vestibular system, can help the ear develop to its fullest capacity of listening. One parent reports after her child completed the listening training program at the Spectrum Center that,

 "It used to take two hours to get out the door in the morning and now Paul is ready before I am. We're not fighting over homework and there are many days now when he gets it done himself. Our family life is totally different."

 Children are not the only individuals affected by Attention Deficit Disorders. Many individuals have coped with attention issues well into adulthood before being identified. After years of frustration and failure these individuals self-esteem is often severely impacted. They are not living their lives to their full potential. One 55-year-old client wrote, "I can only say that Tomatis Listening Training has allowed me to sit down and focus for long periods of time without giving up or getting anxious about a situation. What a terrific feeling of accomplishment."

How The Spectrum Center Can Help Since 1992 the Spectrum Center has pioneered the combination of developmental sensory techniques with the auditory training theories of Dr Alfred Tomatis in what we call the-Spectrum Center Method. We have found this combination very helpful in the listening training of persons with ADD/ADHD. The vestibular system and the cochlear system, housed in the inner ear, provide the brain with 90% of all of the sensory input it needs to stay alert and optimally energized. The Spectrum Center uses the Tomatis Method auditory stimulation to provide the vestibular/cochlear system with maximum stimulation to encourage a calm focused and alert state.

The Spectrum Center also incorporates audio-vocal training (through combination microphone/headphone work) to further hone the ear's ability to tune in to important information (such as someone talking) and filter out background noise. If you would like to know more about how the Spectrum Center can help you or a child with ADD and ADHD, please contact us at 845 915-3288. Or write us at 322 Route 17 Suite 4, Tuxedo Park, NY 10987-0698 Copyright 2010
Copyright 2010 William J. Kennick

my child looked me in the eye