After Cheri Moore’s success with helping my older son, I decided to seek her advice regarding Ryan’s unclear speech and lack of attentiveness, despite the fact that he was now in kindergarten. We thought his speech would improve over time, but after a year, his speech improved very little. I knew I would need to put Ryan in speech therapy, but decided to first let Cheri evaluate Ryan. Within her first visit with Ryan, she expressed concern about behaviors that indicated hearing sensitivities.
Ryan often said “what?” or “huh?” and easily became distracted while I was teaching him. When upset, he could not express himself. We would ask what was wrong, and he would just look at us and cry, or worse, just run out of the room. It was as if he had lost his voice. When he did speak, his voice was loud regardless of how much noise was present in the background. He did not know what it meant to whisper or use an inside voice. The Berard hearing test explained why his voice was so loud. Ryan heard environmental sounds so well he needed to speak loudly to block them out. This enabled him to focus on what he was saying.
At age six, Ryan was not very coordinated, which was most apparent on the soccer field. Although he loved to play the game, it seemed that he would fall down too easily. Also, it was not unusual to see him suddenly lie down on the floor, even in public places. This would happen when I was speaking with friends in the church foyer and he was standing next to me. Suddenly, he would lie down on the floor, smiling, even softly giggling. I now understand that the relief of being on the ground itself caused him great joy. He rarely stood on his own two feet, preferring to lean against something. Ryan’s unusual behaviors were caused by what I now know to be middle ear weaknesses (vestibular weaknesses).
Cheri recommended Berard Auditory Integration Training (AIT) along with Dianne Craft’s Brain Integration Therapy (BIT) and speech therapy. His hearing test showed very poor bone conduction with lateralization to just one ear for all frequencies except two. This, along with painful hearing and difficulty hearing lower frequencies, explained his inability to express himself.
After Ryan received AIT and BIT for several months, the speech therapist was encouraged by Ryan’s progress. His speech teacher has commented several times her surprise at Ryan’s great gains. He has also found his voice when he is upset. He is still emotional and tends to overreact, but at least he is able to tell us what is bothering him. We hope to keep speech services as long as Ryan is receiving auditory integration training.
Ryan has also improved in other ways. The most visible improvement was in his vestibular system. Ryan no longer suddenly lies on the ground when in public places. And this past soccer year, he has been a great player. In fact, he scored several goals and was one of the better players on his team. Ryan’s writing and visual skills, along with his ability to block out other sounds, have also improved, which is helping him stay more focused when being taught. He is no longer disruptive with silly behavior, which he used to cope with his confusion.
Ryan is in the middle of his second AIT program and will continue Brain Integration Training. Ryan is much improved and we are confident his early intervention will prevent him from struggling academically, socially, and in sports. Regrettably, family circumstances prevented Ryan from receiving the three- and four-month booster, which would have helped strengthen his middle ear and more quickly normalize his hearing sensitivities. Seven months after his first AIT, he began to have difficulty speaking due to the delay in getting him his second program. I was trying to coordinate his program with his older brother’s program, since the whole family would need to keep all sound from technology off (television, radio, games, etc.…). It is very important to follow the intervention timing guidelines recommended, which I wished I had understood. I hope my testimony will encourage other parents to be more vigilant with getting the numerous follow-up hearing tests, boosters, and subsequent AIT programs until the auditory sensitivities to sound have normalized, both ears hear all sounds, and both ears work well together.