- Education and Science
Dr Tomatis learns by doing
Dr Tomatis was in the French Resistance during the war, whilst studying to become a doctor.
After the War, once he had qualified as an ear nose and throat specialist, a otalarynyologist, he was asked by the French Air Force to investigate two problems. One was industrial deafness caused by aircraft engines. The other was pilots who could pass any hearing test, but in stress situations such as battle became temporarily deaf. For this work Dr Tomatis was able to use extremely sensitive and extremely expensive testing equiment.
Dr Tomatis' father was an opera singer. He kept meeting musicians who had hearing or singing problems, and referred them to his son.
Tomatis discovered that these singers had deafened themselves. Now they could not hear a particular note they could not sing it.
One patient was from North Italy. He had to sing a part which had a "rrr" sound, which he simply could not sing. Tomatis established that his mother tongue dialect did not have this "rrr" sound. Tomatis trained the man to listen to tapes of the "rrr" sound. Once he could "hear" the sound he could sing it.
Listening and Hearing
The child in the womb learns to hear and learns to listen while in the womb.
One surprising child, born to a French woman, was speaking in English first despite the mother speaking to the child in French from birth. The woman was a professional interpreter, and had spent much of her pregnancy speaking in English. This is strong proof that the child learns to listen in the womb.
There is a difference between hearing and listening. The mechanism for hearing develops as a physical development. Listening is an emotional development. We all know how a friend might comment on the noise our car makes, and then we listen for it. We could hear it before, but we didn't. Now we are listening for it we hear it. That is the difference between hearing and listening.
In the womb our ears develop quickly. We learn to hear and then to listen. We listen particularly to the range of frequencies our mother uses, and tend not to listen to others which are less strong in any case.
If anything disturbs normal development, such as mum falling down or suffering violence, the child is frightened, The child shuts off communications while it comes to terms with this frightening experience. During this time the listening is not developed even though physical development is continuing.
If the child is born before its listening is properly developed, listening difficulties persist. For that child, every conversation is like a conversation down a bad telephone line. The child has learning difficulties, the severity and pattern of which will vary according to the pre-natal experience.
The child grows up not hearing and therefore not using the full range of frequencies common in its mother tongue.If the child is female, the child it carries may develop normally, but cannot listen to frequencies mother does not use. The child is born with learning difficulties. This is why learning difficulties often seem to be inherited through the mother.
Dyslexia occurs against the background of the learning difficulties.
We all have a degree of duplication in hearing, sight, and dexterity. Most people are right handed.
Most people are right eared, so sound comes in the right ear and across to the left half of the brain for processing. With a left eared person, the sound enters the left ear, travels down to the chest, across, and up to the right side of the brain, and then across to the left side for processing. This means that as well as the bad telephone line, there is a delay introduced as well.
An educational psychiatrist told me that if you take a normal person and introduce a delay between their speech and them hearing their own speech they stop talking. Dyslexics carry on talking because they are used to it.
Tomatis practitioners do extremely careful listening tests, to establish exactly where the gaps are. Then they try to fill in each gap from the edges, educating the ear to listen to sounds it is capable of hearing but has never listened to before. When the ear is educated to listen, it can hear. That goes a long way to reducing and then eliminating the learning difficulties.
For dyslexia it is necessary to teach the right ear to become dominant, ending the dominance of the left ear.
Tomatis practitioners give short bursts of therapy, usually 2 hours a day for about 8 days. Then there is a break while the patient and family adjust emotionally to the changes that have taken place. After a number of sessions the Tomatis therapy has done a miracle.
Much much more
In this short article I have only scratched the surface of Tomatis therapy. It works for dyslexia and often works for autism, ADD, ADHD, and vertigo. It is important to understand that it is a family therapy, and other family members will also have therapy alongside the principal patient or patients.
The therapy is not painful or intrusive - it is just listening to music through earphones.
There are problems with the scientific basis of the work. No two dyslexics are alike, so it is not practical to scientifically "prove" that it works. It does!
Tomatis therapy has also been used for language learning and in prison education.
Tomatis therapy is not totally perfect in every way, and there are unhappy differences between Tomatis and Tomatis like practitioners. Be aware. If the first session does not produce significant results do not spend more money on it. Consider Fuerstein and Alexander type techniques also.
I am not in any way involved in Tomatis therapy, but I have seen it work. For more information contact www.tomatis-group.com .
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