All Listening Is Not The Same

By Valerie Dejean, OTR

During the past 10 years many listening therapies have become available, and almost universally they claim that they are derived or based on the theories of the French physician, ear, nose and throat specialist, Dr. Alfred Tomatis. The Tomatis Method is based on a developmental model of how we all learned to listen – a process that started in the womb. At the Spectrum Center in Bethesda, MD we have been employing the Tomatis Method for the past thirteen years. We are often asked what differentiates the Tomatis Method from other methods. Here, I’ll highlight what makes Tomatis unique.

Theoretical Bases

Tomatis believed that the ear is much more than an organ of hearing. It energizes and regulates alertness and attention, coordinates posture and movement and connects intentions and thoughts. Furthermore, he discovered that good listeners tune into the high frequency sounds that carry consonants and the meaning of language, while inhibiting the low frequency sounds which interfere with this perception. He invented several devices designed to rehabilitate those with dysfunction in these areas.

The Electronic Ear

One of Tomatis’ inventions is the electronic ear (EE). The EE has three features which are crucial in helping non-verbal children find a "voice." Each one is regulated by a separate dial, which allows the Tomatis practitioner to create a wide range of separate settings for individual clients depending upon their specific needs.

Training and Programming

The aim of programming is to provide re-education of the ear by re-enacting the development of listening from the fetal stage (high frequencies) to birth and then through the development of language. Tomatis therapy modifies the many functions of the ear. The EE is the instrument. The programmer is the virtuoso. Designing programs and adjusting them is the critical human "know how" of the Tomatis Method, which requires lengthy training of the Tomatis Practitioner.

For a more in-depth article on Tomatis and a chart comparing listening programs, go to To learn more about Tomatis, and for an inspiring story about how one mother’s courage and Tomatis therapy recovered a little girl from autism, read When Listening Comes Alive: A Guide to Effective Learning and CommunicationWhen Listening Comes Alive by Madaule and Awakening Ashley: Mozart Knocks Autism On Its EarAwakening Ashley by Ruben.

By Valerie Dejean is Director of the Spectrum Center and a DDR Board Member

[Initially published in New Developments: Volume 9, Number 4 - Summer, 2004]

All material in this web site is given for information purposes only and is not to be substituted for advice from your health care provider.

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