Alfred Tomatis (1920 - 2001) was a French scientist who dealt with anatomy and physiology of the auditory system. His tests led to the creation of the first electronic ear which enabled the auditory training based on the principle of modification of the hearing manner. Certain frequency bands are enhanced by sound filtering, learning to listen and control one’s own voice with the right ear as well as exercising muscles of the middle ear by application of appropriately selected tones.
The Tomatis therapy consists in micro gymnastics of ear muscles - work of the muscles: stapedius muscle, hammer, external and internal ciliary cells, the human ear is responsible for delivery of 80% of all stimuli to the brain, by which is plays a key role in our life and functioning. Applying appropriate stimulation, we can impact: the prefrontal cortex, vestibule, cerebellum, amygdala, limbic system and brain cortex.
Auditory stimulation is performed through bones and air with the use of appropriate devices (electronic ear or Solisten, a so-called small electronic ear + headphones with in-built bone vibrator). Prior to commencement of therapy, a qualification test is performed - test of auditory attention and lateralisation as well as additional tests, e.g. test of hearing with each ear separately (words). If a patient is a child, a talk about child’s development until 1 year of life as well as past diseases at the later stage is conducted additionally.
A patient listens to specially selected music, containing sounds with appropriate frequencies (simply speaking: those missing) for 2 hours every day, music is administered with appropriate advance or delay through a bone or air channel. On the basis of the results of qualification test, an individual therapy program is selected. The therapy includes a few stages and their number depends on the patient’s needs and, for this reason, it is difficult to define how many parts it will consist of. In order to achieve a permanent effect, it is necessary to undergo at least 3 training stages. Stage 1 introduced the ear to correct work and lasts 30 hours, this is a so-called passive/basic stage. Sessions are performed at least 5 times a week in two-hour cycles. The next stage takes place upon 4 - 8 weeks’ break, prior to its commencement, a diagnosis is performed again, on the basis of which the new individual program is selected. The next stage also starts upon the lapse of 4 - 8 weeks from stage II and also, prior to its commencement, a new diagnosis and selection of individual program is performed. The length of stage II and III depends on the individual patient’s needs and can last 15-30 hours.
Efficiency fields. The Tomatis Method can contribute to the improvement of many fields concerning:
Upon application of Tomatis therapy, adults and children with ADHD, dyslexia, autism, delayed development, communication difficulties, learning difficulties made significant progress. They have more concentration, are more creative, deal better with difficult situations, are less susceptible to stress. The skill of logical thinking significantly improved.
Despite term “communication problems” is undoubtedly generalised and communication difficulties can have various causes, the fact remains that the major part of these difficulties is rooted in hearing function disorders. Tomatis proved that these difficulties can be identified and evaluated directly by the assessment of the level of general hearing function disorders. In reality, this function is defined as a particular combination of the set of mechanisms out of which each is responsible for a particular hearing dimension. Each of the dimensions is defined as a factor which is measurable and reflects the course of its corresponding process. All these measurements of operation of different mechanisms are included in the hearing functions. The combination, which can be perceived as the profile of specific use for each unit, is called a “hearing test”.
So, depending on the “hearing test” result, communication difficulties can take varied forms. For example, they can manifest themselves by inability to perceive and receive sounds which surround us, receiving them as aggressive towards us: car squeal, slammed door, high noise level in the restaurant, but also some voices, e.g. voice of a colleague, parent, friend...
This method also brings positive effects in therapy of speech disorders with auditory cause, e.g. some types of aphasia, dysphasia, delayed speech development, etc.
Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD). PDDs are serious and, at the start of each disease, they are characteristic of delays and changes in the development of social interactions, communication and cognitive skills. Asperger’s syndrome, as any form of autism, is a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD). However, contrary to an autistic child, a child suffering from this syndrome does not have any anomalies of language acquisition. The Tomatis Method, despite the fact that it was created as autism therapy, it also brings goods results in this field. In case of ca. 60% of autistic children, subject to therapy with this method - positive results were achieved. Although the auditory training does not heal autism, in combination with other therapies, it can positively contribute the quality of child’s life. The aim of the auditory training is development or re-establishment of communication in case when it is lost or weakened. Doctor Tomatis showed that particularly in such a situation, ear and its different functions play a significantly important role. The vestibule, which is a part of the middle ear, controls balance, coordination as well as muscle tension. It is in charge of all other body muscles, including eyeball muscles.
Work with a mother’s voice is of very great importance: a child is again embedded in the sounds of uterus environment in order to attempt to trigger willingness to communicate in them.
The purpose of transmitting the mother’s voice with a strong participation of bone conduction is to awaken in a child the awareness of primary and inseparable connection in them.
The observation of the strong impact of the mother’s voice is interesting: very often, a child becomes immediately calm while listening to it and gives the impression that he or she remembers this voice and knows it.
In practice, the aim is to establish the contact with a child, stimulating them to very concrete works in the bone conduction. This work contributes to more clear definition of the body built since the perception of bone structure generates the awareness of unity of general body structure.
When the ear is correctly regulated by bone conduction, there are not additional hissy fits, often observed in auditory types oversensitivity. Finally, this multi-sensory approach is even more effective since the auditory stimulation generates very strong growth of energetic resources, at the same time, soothing the increasing anxiety from which an autistic child suffers. The speech develops in a different manner. In children who did not speak, the readiness to produce sounds increases, e.g. vocalisation enhances which can develop into a some sense of babbling. Whereas in children who had the ability to speak, the improvement is observed in the clarity of message, tendencies to build longer sentences and select more accurate words. Speech understanding improves as well. The time of concentration, attention given to proposed sentences increases.
Dyspraxia is a pathological organisation and movement automation: tying a shoelace, eating with cutlery, riding a bike, correct writing. A child with dyspraxia is slow and clumsy, falls down or constantly needs help in all activities performed by them, e.g. dressing up, organisation of activity such as doing homework.
It is a child who cannot remember routine movements and, as a consequence, deal with a difficult situation, facing everyday trivial gestures. A child needs to mobilise their attention to smaller or larger extent in order to perform these tasks, which is connected with a large degree of fatigability. The most obvious disorder, which is always concurrent with this disorder, is dysgraphia: strong impact on the performance of writing tasks (calligraphy) often results in illegible writing or, at least, difficulties in its deciphering. In addition, in the most cases, dyspraxia is accompanied by visual-spatial disorders: clumsy gesture are connected with the difficult visual and spatial organisation. A child encounters many difficulties, e.g. in numeration of the set of elements without making a mistake, skipping words or lines while reading, has difficulties in localisation of particular components of the layout or geometrical figures in relation to each other, problems with identification of the left and right side. These disorders of spatial and visual organisation are at the bases of dyscalculia, whereas logical reasoning is maintained. The Tomatis Method combined with the work performed by the SI therapist or occupational therapist can significantly decrease the symptoms from which a child with dyspraxia suffers through activation of the systems which impact the vestibule and cerebellar operation.
The first basic discovery made by Tomatis, called “the first Tomatis right”, can be formulated in the following manner: the voice includes only what the ear can hear or, in other words, “the larynx reproduces only what the ear is capable of hearing”.
According to Tomatis, the quality of voice production requires not only good hearing of acoustic messages coming from the outside, but also and most of all good sense of hearing, i.e. the ability to use one’s own voice in order to analyse the sound and control it in terms of accuracy, intensity and quality. For this reason, hearing itself is possible provided that the received vocal vibration is correctly regulated by bone conduction, sound transmission by all bones in the body and, in particular, cranial bones.
Reception by bone conduction depends on harmonious functioning of two muscles located in the middle ear the task of which is to control and receive all vibrations transferred to the middle ear. The aim of audio vocal re-education is implementation of the mechanisms of quality of self-control with the application of appropriate electronic devices - an electronic ear or portable Solisten devices, a so-called small electronic ear. Depending on problems with voice, activities included in this procedure can be focused on:
Stress (due to the effect in the form of decreased tension, anxiety and increase of creativity, it is applied as support of stress counteraction. There is a high number of factors which generate stress: they can come from the environment (noise, heat, cold, viruses, etc.) or connected with the family, professional or social environment.
These factors cause reactions in the nervous and hormonal system which enable the body to protect against the source of aggression. Symptoms: increased blood pressure, increased heartbeat and breathing pace, increase in the blood sugar level, attentiveness and muscle tension. However, if these conditions maintain or repeat too often, the defence interactions become delayed/chronic and cause diseases or psychomotor disorders, which results in such changes in the body as: fatigue, anxiety, heart problems, high blood pressure, digestive problems, muscle tensions and even weakened immune system.
In reference to the other option - dealing with stress - Tomatis Method brings advantages. The therapy sessions with Tomatis method allow for acquisition of appropriate control over the reactions which result in stress despite repeating stressful factors.
In fact, the therapy with Tomatis method triggers a detailed/specific auditory training which has a permanent impact on the regulation and harmonisation of the nervous system, affecting both all physical tensions and the source of energy. With the training, it is possible to prepare a strategy of emotional and cognitive control which can be triggered when needed in order to deal with every potentially difficult situation in a more calm manner.
Since 1980 many studies have been conducted with the purpose to prove the existence of very intense mental and sensory life of a foetus. Since the 50’s, Tomatis has been claiming that the mother’s voice is received by a foetus and that is constitutes for it a type of primary emotional-acoustic substance which is a capital for its development, both physical and mental. In addition, according to Tomatis, a foetus, hearing her voice, learns the basic structures of mother tongue, i.e. rhythms and intonations.
It is commonly accepted that when the mother expects a baby, she transmits the entire scope of her affective and emotional conditions to a child, both positive and negative.
For this reason, it is important that in this period, which is exceptional in terms of communication, a mother is provided with the best conditions in the aspects of relaxation and calmness.
The session with the electronic ear of Professor Tomatis, Solisten, enables her to release from anxiety and stress which can attack her due to difficult external conditions or fear of pain connected with the delivery.
However, in all cases, it is very important that the pregnant woman can relax (elimination of anxiety and stress), not only for herself, but also for her baby. In reality, the more anxious and tense a woman is, the worse her physical condition is and, at the same time, she transfers these negative emotional states to the baby. In addition to fighting anxiety and preventing pain, the sessions will constitute relaxation and enforcement at the same time.
They will also teach to breach freely and prevent poor physical posture, thus, helping the future mother to take the most appropriate posture in relation to her condition. They will also show a positive impact on sleep regulation as well as will prevent energy fall which often occurs after delivery. Finally, they will contribute to development of a child, their communication skills, skills which, according to Tomatis, come from the acoustic connection of the mother’s voice with the first experience shaped in the foetus staying inside the uterus.
The Mozart music and Gregorian choruses used during the training have a calming effect. Sounds included in Gregorian choruses, used in training, have the rhythm close to the natural human breathing rhythm. They relax and learn correct breathing. There is also high likeness of rhythms found in Mozart music and heartbeat of a foetus in the mother’s womb.