Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
Who Can The Sound Learning Centre help?
What kind of difficulties do your clients have?
You can find a detailed analysis of the type of clients we see in our Next Steps – Research section, but in outline 83% are children under 18 years of age, two-thirds are boys – one-third girls, three-quarters have some form of hearing, auditory processing or speech & language difficulty, and about one-third have been diagnosed on the Autistic Spectrum. Over the years we have, however, helped children and adults with a very wide variety of difficulties, including a number of exceptionally bright and well-performing clients, who simply wished to enhance their performance even further.
I was fine at school but am struggling at University, can you help?
We have helped many bright and intelligent students who got by at school by virtue of their intelligence and willingness to work harder than their intellectual peers, often at the expense of social activities. Frequently no one perceived any difficulties. Once at university the workload and pressures increase but there are not enough hours in the day to keep putting in the "extra work". That is when they, or a tutor, may first observe that the student is not truly performing to their intellectual capacity compared to their peers.
Do you see very young children?
Yes, we regularly see children as young as two and occasionally see even younger infants. We can provide an assessment through observation and noting the reactions to specific external stimuli. The assessment and the detailed discussion afterwards is often very enlightening for the parents or carers and normally provides a clear way forward to support the further development of the child. Our Neuro-developmental programme can be used with very young infants and has proved to be very successful in bringing about the required changes.
Do you see non-verbal clients?
We see many clients who have no, or very limited, verbal skills, from the very young who are still developing their speech to adults who have difficulties acquiring speech. We employ specially adapted tests and observations during the assessment of these clients. About 43 % of our clients are not able to complete our full range of standard clinical tests due to lack of verbal skills, attention span or understanding.
Do you treat more than one child of the same family at the same time?
We regularly do so, but we treat each as an individual with their own personalised programme based on their own individual assessment. This is very efficient for the family from a time-commitment point of view. If required, it is also possible for parents to receive treatment at the same time.
Do you treat clients with epilepsy?
Yes, but we are not offering to treat the condition. However we do see clients where epilepsy is just one of the facts in their life. In order to provide appropriate Light therapy we need to know whether seizures are of a photo-convulsive nature. If this is the case, the programme will be adjusted to ensure the risks of seizures is minimised. In some cases a side effect of some of our therapies has been a reduction in the frequency, intensity or duration of seizures.
Do you treat clients with schizophrenia?
Unfortunately we are not able to provide our services to people with paranoid schizophrenia. We may, however, be able to help clients with other types of schizophrenia. Please note that in the past autism was called “infantile schizophrenia” and that the label schizophrenia therefore can cover a wide range of conditions. Please contact us if you are in any doubt.
Can I come for an assessment only?
Yes – there is no obligation to follow any of the recommended treatments. The assessment, the detailed discussion afterwards and the written report are all of great value in understanding what may be going on, what to do next and in obtaining support from health, educational and government establishments. Our reports have often formed part of the evidence in considering whether a "Statement of Special Educational Needs" or "Education, Health and Care (“EHC”) plan" is issued.
Do I have a choice as to which assessments are done?
Yes. Our standard assessment includes a wide range of tests and observations and aims to get a ‘whole person’ view of the presenting conditions. However, we can carry out individual tests when required.
Will you consult the General Practitioner or other Professionals for a medical or personal history?
In general this is not required. However, if you have any reports that are relevant, please bring these along at the time of the assessment. Appointments at the Centre are kept strictly confidential.
What other information am I required to provide?
We have a detailed intake questionnaire which we will ask you to complete. You are however, free to exclude any answers you may not wish to provide.
How long does a standard assessment take?
Please allow up to three hours for the standard assessment, including completion of the intake questionnaire and the detailed discussion afterwards. It is important that a client is at ease and comfortable during the assessment in order to obtain meaningful results. We will therefore allow for short breaks during the assessment if required.
How do you determine which programmes are appropriate?
Our standard assessment is very comprehensive and looks at the hearing, vision and neuro-developmental maturity, in addition to relevant behaviour, ability and emotional state. This, in addition to the detailed questionnaire and any relevant reports provided by a client, will provide us with sufficient information on which to base our recommendations. Where appropriate, we will also recommend the services of other providers that are specialists in their field.
Will I get a written report after an assessment?
Yes, you will get a written report of the assessment results together with our recommendations for any programmes we judge might be helpful. Many clients appreciate the comprehensiveness of our reports and have told us they have been useful in discussions with educational and medical professionals. Our reports have often formed part of the evidence in considering whether a "Statement of Special Educational Needs" or "Education, Health and Care (“EHC”) plan" is issued.
How long after the assessment can I start any recommended treatments?
For Auditory Integration Training (AIT) and Lightwave Stimulation (LWS) we use the results of the assessment to personalise the treatments to the needs of the individual. For this reason treatment should be started within six months of the assessment. If a longer period elapses, some tests may have to be re-taken to ensure the treatment is still relevant to a client. There would be no charge for this.
What does the assessment for Auditory Integration Training (AIT) entail?
Where possible, an initial hearing assessment is done which includes a pure tone audiometric test at 11 different frequencies, checking for the quietest level of sound audible at each frequency, together with laterality and selectivity tests. Based upon the results, an AIT programme is created for a client. If someone is unable to communicate or complete these tests, we rely on observations and distraction tests.
What does the assessment for Lightwave Stimulation (LWS) entail?
We carry out a visual fields of awareness test. This is a test where a client looks at a visual field chart and identifies the position at which they can see and identify the colour of a probe as it moves from the periphery of their vision toward the centre. The test is performed for each eye separately. Based upon this, together with the client’s response to viewing individual colours, a LWS programme is designed. If someone is unable to communicate or complete these tests, we rely on observations and evoked responses when viewing different colours.
How do the programmes work?
The principal behind all our programmes is retraining the brain using appropriate, and often novel, input through one or more senses. Old less useful ways of processing are replaced by new appropriate ways of processing sensory input, thus re-balancing the senses.
How long have you been providing these programmes?
We have been offering our programmes since 1994.
What research is available?
Please refer to our Next Steps – Research page for further details on our own research and that by many other researchers around the world.
Are these programmes safe?
Yes, all our programmes are non-invasive and non-harmful.
Will I get a report after each programme?
Yes. We report any improvements that have been identified during the course of programme. Where appropriate we also record the results of the standard clinical tests, both before and after treatment.
Do programmes have to be repeated?
With Auditory Integration Training (AIT) improvements often continue to occur in the weeks or months following the treatment and one single programme is normally sufficient. If the audiometric test or observed behaviour indicates that further improvements can be made, a second programme may be considered, but normally not until some time has elapsed. For some clients, additional courses of Lightwave Stimulation (LWS) may be beneficial to generate further improvements. Lightwave Stimulation can also be followed at home through the rental of a Lumatron or Photron light machine.
How will you tell whether the therapy has been successful?
We carefully monitor progress throughout the period of treatment and ask clients to keep a diary of observations during this period. Where appropriate we conduct standard clinical tests soon after completion of each series of treatments. In our post-treatment report we will highlight relevant changes that have occurred compared with the conditions during the initial assessment.
Do you conduct longer-term follow-up research?
Yes, clients will be sent post-treatment questionnaires at regular intervals.
Auditory Integration Training (AIT)
What is the duration of sessions?
Two half hour sessions per day with a minimum three hour interval between sessions over 10 days, either consecutively or two five-day weeks within a 12 day period. Our Centre is open most weekends and throughout all holiday periods including Christmas and Easter, in order to ensure that the typical ten day treatment period can be taken consecutively in a as short as possible period of time, including half-term breaks.
What does an Auditory Integration Training (AIT) programme entail?
During each session a client listens to music filtered through an Audiokinetron using a pair of high quality closed headphones. The Audiokinetron machine randomly modulates the amplitude of the high and low frequencies in order to retrain the ears to hear in a more balanced way. A range of individual filters may also be used depending upon the results of the audiometric tests.
What is the sound intensity during listening sessions?
The highest intensity that an individual is exposed to during AIT listening sessions varies depending upon the individual. However, it will not exceed 80 dBA SPL (slow scale) and will in practice be at a much lower intensity. Whenever it is not possible to obtain an audiogram, or the individual cannot easily communicate, the starting level is always low and careful observation is made when increasing it. The music should never be uncomfortable to listen to.
What equipment used for AIT?
The equipment used for AIT at The Sound Learning Centre is the Audiokinetron developed for, and approved by, Dr. Guy Bérard.
What music is used for AIT?
All music meets the criteria considered appropriate for AIT and are high quality recordings from a list of tracks tested by The Berard AIT International Society (BAITIS) as suitable for use for AIT. The full auditory bandwidth is used subject to the need to apply filtering based upon audiometric test results.
Can very young children follow an AIT programme?
We see very young children and can offer a neuro-developmental programme for them. For AIT we follow Dr. Guy Bérard’s recommendation that the minimum age should be three years.
If my child has had a history of ear infections, grommets and antibiotics, can AIT help them?
In many cases this is an indicator that we can probably make a big difference. Many of our clients presenting with speech & language difficulties have such a history. It is quite likely that they missed out on important stages in normal speech and language development while they were in pain or unable to hear. AIT rebalances the hearing and this seems to restart the development process.
Are there any side effects during AIT?
You may notice behavioural or mood changes and, very occasionally, feelings of nausea. These are short-lived and generally indicate the programme is taking effect and progress is being made.
Should someone with Misophonia, Hyperacute hearing, Hyperacusis or Sensitive Hearing wear Ear Protectors?
Wearing ear protectors in most normal life situations is NOT recommended because it frequently makes the problem worse in the longer term. There maybe temporary relief but auditory processing ability is reduced and the individual also stands out as different. Hearing protection does not solve the underlying problem. Berard Auditory Integration Training (AIT) may help the quality of life by improving auditory processing and reducing difficulties caused by over-sensitivity, hyperacute hearing or misophonia. Of course we should ALL wear hearing protection in the presence of genuinely intense sounds e.g. firework or aircraft displays and there are specific regulations relating to exposure and control of noise at work together with requirements for using hearing protection.
Lightwave Stimulation (LWS)
What is the duration of sessions?
Twenty minute sessions, twice a day. A series consists of 20 sessions. Our Centre is open some weekends and throughout all school holiday periods including Christmas and Easter, in order to ensure that the typical ten day treatment period can be taken consecutively in a as short as possible period of time, including half-term breaks. (Please note the Centre is normally shut on 25th and 26th of December and the 1st of January)
What does a Lightwave Stimulation (LWS) programme entail?
Following an assessment a personalised programme of different colours, each with their own particular flicker rates, is recommended. During each session, the client looks at the coloured light emanating from a machine called a Lumatron or a Photron.
Combined AIT and LWS
Is the Light treatment given at the same time as Sound treatment?
We often recommend a combined AIT and LWS protocol as this maximises the sensory input and has proven to be very effective. The treatments are, however, not given at the same time, but in close succession. During the first appointment each day we normally first provide 30 minutes of AIT, followed by 20 minutes of LWS. Then, some hours later during the second appointment, we first provide 20 minutes of LWS, followed by 30 minutes of AIT. Our Centre is open most weekends and throughout all holiday periods including Christmas and Easter, in order to ensure that the typical ten day treatment period can be taken consecutively in a as short as possible period of time, including half-term breaks. (Please note the Centre is normally shut on 25th and 26th of December and the 1st of January)
Neuro-developmental Programme (NDP)
What does the Neuro-developmental programme entail?
A full neuro-developmental assessment may last up to 3 hours. The tests cover gross and fine muscle co-ordination, balance, patterns of motor development, presence of aberrant reflexes, laterality, oculo-motor functions and visual perceptual ability. On the basis of these tests, a personal programme of Reflex Inhibition exercises is prepared for the client to carry out at home. The home exercise programme typically requires 20 minutes a day. The client returns at intervals for progress monitoring and adjustment of the programme as appropriate.
The Sound Learning Centre
What training and qualifications do the staff at The Sound Learning Centre have?
Pauline Allen, the Founder of The Sound Learning Centre has qualifications in all methods offered by the Centre. We have other well trained and qualified assessors and therapists working at the Centre. Please refer to the About the SLC section for further details.
How long have you been using these programmes?
The Sound Learning Centre was established in 1994 and has offered support to well over 2,000 clients.
Can I contact clients that have received these treatments in the past?
Yes, we can supply a Parent and Client list on request of people happy to be contacted and talk about their experience. Written testimonials are available for inspection at the Centre.
Are results guaranteed?
We cannot guarantee specific results but the outcomes of the programmes have been extremely encouraging. Most clients experience improvements and display very positive results in many areas of their life. These may include improvements in educational, cognitive, emotional, behavioural or social performance as well as general physical well-being. Improvements are sometimes immediate, sometimes continuing in subsequent weeks and months, sometimes not starting until some time after the programme.
If I know that I want to do the programmes, can I book an assessment and start on the same day?
Yes, as long as we have provisionally reserved time for you in advance.
Will I be able to come to the Centre during term breaks and holidays?
Yes, we are open for assessments and treatments daily, including during term breaks, most holidays and weekends.
What happens if someone falls ill during the programmes?
We would not want to continue if someone becomes ill, so we would offer a break until he or she was feeling better. In the case of AIT, we continue from where we left off or start again, depending on the time lapse. For LWS, the success of the programme is less time-critical.
What are the costs of an assessment and the various programmes you offer?
The prices of our standard assessment and the various programmes we offer are listed in our price guide and are in line with those charged by other practitioners. We offer a 10% reduction on AIT and LWS when taken during term time. Please contact us for details.
Do you see clients from overseas?
Yes. We are a small Centre with an international reputation and have welcomed clients from all over the world.
Is there local accommodation available?
Yes. We can provide a list of Local Accommodation that may help you find accommodation to suit your needs. The closest self catering facilities are only 3 minutes walk away and close to shops and local transport.
Can I get funding for the programme from the NHS?
We have a National non-NHS (Provider) Organisation Code and General Practitioners have the facility to pay for our services via their fund holding Primary Care group. This is more likely to happen in practices which are more knowledgeable about the services we offer. However, the severe budget restraints within the NHS often make it difficult to obtain approval.
Will my health insurance company pay for the programme?
Health insurance companies generally do not pay for the programmes as they are not classified as medical interventions. However, some clients have been successful as they have found a private medical insurance consultant prepared to recommend them. We have a BUPA provider number for those clients who are referred to us by a BUPA consultant.
Can I get funding for the programme from other sources?
We assist clients in applying for charity funding and can supply a Charities List and resources of information on request.
Are you insured?
Yes, we carry appropriate Professional and Public Liability Insurance.
Do you carry out CRB / DBS checks?
Yes, all our staff receive Enhanced Disclosure Barring Service checks.