I have offered ongoing SEN support to many students with diagnoses of Dyslexia and other Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs). Many students have underlying auditory and/or visual sensory processing difficulties.
Diagnoses are extremely helpful in terms of defining strengths and weaknesses and showing how we can provide better SEN support. However, rarely do we think to tackle the underlying processing difficulties that can be associated with SpLDs. This mainly comes from the belief that they are usually developmental, last a lifetime and, as long as we put the necessary academic scaffolding in place, the student will do well.
Whilst this is true of many students, for some, there is a way to improve some of the sensory processing issues that lie at the root of their difficulties. By improving a child’s sensory systems, we can help them to efficiently process and learn information without it being such an uphill struggle.
I was introduced to a therapy called Auditory Integration Training (AIT). It helps improves auditory processing and is offered at a specialist centre, The Sound Learning Centre. The centre has been successfully running for the past 25 years. They’re based in North London and provide numerous therapies including a Neuro-Developmental programme and Lightwave Stimulation Therapy (specifically for anyone suffering from scotopic sensitivity). The auditory integration training, however, was a revelation to me and I know could be of benefit to many of my students in the past who have struggled with auditory processing difficulties.
In order to find out more, I went to visit Pauline and Phil Stickland and their friendly, professional team of specialists. The centre has a number of relaxed therapy rooms kitted out with technical therapy equipment. Trained by Dr. Guy Bérard, a French ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist trained Pauline in France. He identified a link between hearing distortions and many behavioural or learning problems. Dr. Bérard, went on to develop the AIT programme. In addition, Pauline trains other AIT practitioners.
Over their many years of experience the centre have helped clients with hearing difficulties. In particular, those that were affecting their social, emotional, behavioural and/or academic performance. Many clients were previously diagnosed with learning difficulties. These include dyslexia, dyspraxia, Auditory Processing Disorders (APD or CAPD), Asperger’s and Autistic spectrum conditions. After completing the Auditory therapy, many have shown improved performance not only academically, but emotionally and socially.
Sarah Cox, SEN Consultant