Back To HomeBack To Newsletter

Newsletter - November 2005

Success Stories:

AIT Shows Success in Fighting Depression

Al McClain is fifty-four years old. He has undergone important changes in his life since his treatment with AIT. In an interview after receiving AIT, he realized that he had always been “hyper-auditory”, and he believes that this has caused many of his problems. He described himself as having characteristics of Attention Deficit Disorder, but that was not his motivating reason to try AIT.

Al was in psychoanalysis for ten years. He says that it was an extremely helpful, rewarding, difficult, and lifesaving experience. His story begins with a painful childhood in which his father, who as an alcoholic, abused and abandoned his children and Al’s mother. Al’s mother was rarely home, as she had to earn money to take care of Al and his three siblings. Al says that after many years of successful therapy he reached a point where he found he was “stuck”. His therapist referred him to a local psychiatrist who recommended medication for depression. He was given two medications, which Al says did seem to help, but after about a year he was still struggling with his depression. His therapist then suggested that he be evaluated for Auditory Integration Training. At this time, Al underwent an assessment which included a hearing test and was told that on the basis of the test results, he was a good candidate for the treatment and showed evidence of what is known as a “depressive personality.”

About two weeks after completing the first treatment of AIT, Al decided that he was feeling so much better that he did not need or want to take the prescribed medications anymore. He contacted his prescribing psychiatrist who told him that he was putting himself at risk and that he should accept that he would need to be on medication probably for the rest of his life. Al decided to take himself off of these medications anyway; he did so slowly and carefully.

Al noted that not only had his depression lifted but that headaches he had been plagued by stopped. He had much more energy and could work much better and with greater concentration. Al felt better; he was more relaxed and not as irritable. His then wife noticed he was easier to be with and seemed to take more initiative, that he would follow through better with work and projects around the house. She said, “It’s like having a whole new husband!”

Al has said over and over that he is much “happier, more relaxed, and no longer depressed”. Al described the sensation of the way the AIT felt during a session was like that of an “inner ear massage”, which was very soothing to his sense of hearing and well-being.

Al McClain is a strong advocate for AIT as a treatment that works for adults as well as children. Indeed, Al feels excited about the evaluation process itself, stating that it can determine in advance whether a person is a good candidate or not for AIT. He said that anyone who thinks that they might have an issue that can be helped by AIT should consider spending the money it costs to have the evaluation and be assessed to learn if they can benefit from AIT.

How AIT Helped our Little Angel

My daughter Zoe has always been in and out of the hospital due to her sensory issues and behavior problems. She has a track record of multiple diagnoses. She was diagnosed first with Sensory Integration Dysfunction, and then with ADHD, ODD, severe insomnia, and last but not least, PDD/NOS this year.

Getting the necessary audiologist tests done was a challenge due to her behavior and developmental delays, but Sarah Gewanter had the answer to almost all of our problems. She sent us the disc set that included Speech Stimulation for language improvement.

It was very hard at the beginning to get Zoe to sit and tolerate the headphones, after about 10 minutes into a session she complained of her ears starting to hurt. Over a short period of time we experienced that Zoe started to be more verbal and by the mid-point of the training she was communicating in 3-4 word sentences. When I turned on the dreaded coffee mill she did not cover up her ears for the first time. Instead she smiled and wanted to help! Her overall improvement in expressive and receptive language is continuing to improve at a rapid pace. She is very sure of herself and wants to learn more.

{Zoe has gone through a period of behavioral regression twice so far and we knew what we were “in for”. All I can suggest is to really have the “rules of the house” in place and stay on the “same sheet of music” with your partner in crime and it will pass just as quickly as the onset of the episode.}

An interesting point to make is that Zoe was tested at school before her AIT and then again 6 weeks after her AIT and she showed an overall improvement in language and her IQ actually went from an overall 70 up to a 94.

I am aware that AIT is not a miracle cure for A.S.D or other L.D.’s but I do know that it is part of the solution to obtain what every parent wants for their child. A fair shot in life to become the best person possible. If given the opportunity I would let my daughter go through the program again. I am certain that in time when she is a little older she will continue to reap massive benefits from another treatment of AIT.

A grateful parent and advocate,

Alexandra Winans

Jesse’s Story

My 7-year-old son Jesse was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 3.  He was nonverbal and had many sensory issues which included not being able to stand the feel of getting his hair cut, could not stand the feel of getting his blood pressure taken at the doctor’s office and many sounds hurt his ears.  We first went to The Counseling Center and met with Sarah when Jesse was 4.  I thought that having to listen to the music through the headphones would be a problem for Jesse, but we put a video on and turned the volume off of the TV while he listened to the cds and he actually liked it.  Even before he finished with all 20 cds we began to notice a big difference in him.  He wasn’t holding his ears when he was near running water, he actually sat by himself for a haircut and laughed because it tickled, and he willingly sat and got his blood pressure taken.   We noticed more positive results with Jesse’s hearing sensitivities and sensory issues in the weeks that followed.  We contacted Sarah once again just very recently and went through another round of AIT because last year Jesse inadvertently listened to music through headphones and over time I began to notice him holding his ears a lot.  Once again it helped with his hearing sensitivities, but this time we are continuing to be amazed at how his language is developing.  I believe that AIT along with Jesse’s ABA program at school has been one of the most effective therapies in helping Jesse to be all that he can be.  Denise Lowell

Sarah’s Article:

AIT: It’s Not Just for Kids!

Since much of the literature focuses on children, many people sometimes wonder if AIT is for adults and are surprised to hear that actually any age is fine for AIT.  We’ve worked with all ages including adults into their 70’s. It’s never too late to get improvements! In fact, Dr. Berard who originally developed AIT did so for himself  (as an adult) for his hearing loss. He figured if he could get some “exercise” for the ears, then as with any other muscle in the body, “if you use it, you won’t lose it”. Sure enough, he found it helpful for his hearing and so started using it with others for all sorts of hearing differences.

We have worked with many adults who benefited from AIT (as you will see from some of the stories included in this newsletter). I have seen everything from improvements in general hypersensitivity, attention issues,  “cocktail party” syndrome (difficulty distinguishing sound, i.e., hearing one person speaking when there is a lot of background noise), migraines, mood issues such as depression and anxiety and TBI (traumatic brain injuries). In fact when my mother was alive she was operated on for a brain tumor. After several years went by, she started having falls and on one occasion, hit her head pretty badly resulting in aphasia (difficulty remembering or retrieving words). We tried AIT with her and within two weeks, her speech and physical therapists expressed surprise at how quickly she was “recovering”!

Sometimes it’s surprising what benefits people get from AIT. Although most often the hearing issues are what get address, I have had people report that their vision improved (“clarity and widening of visual field”), they felt “calmer, more relaxed, better able to handle situations”, “getting phone numbers off the answering machine more easily,” “memory recall”, improvements in digital coordination (typing, handwriting and piano playing). Also clearing “old disturbing memories” (dreams improved, re-call and re-working of old “upsets”). After finishing AIT, the friend of a woman in her 70’s said “I have my friend back!” There have been so many different positive responses over the years that I cannot list them all. Suffice it to say that “AIT is NOT just for kids!”

If you have questions or would like to talk over your particular situation, please contact me. I am happy to speak with you.

Sarah Gewanter, MSW, LCSW, Director
Certified Berard AIT Practitioner

Meet the Newest Member of our Staff:

We are pleased to introduce our new assistant, Varian Shepherd. As those of you have found when you call the North Carolina office, he is calm, kind, thoughtful and very helpful. He moved to Asheville last February from Ohio with his wife and 8 year old daughter, so he too understands some of the trials and tribulations of parenthood. We are happy to have him with us.

Fall Crafts:

#1 Magical Leaf Image

This is an easy way to make an image of a leaf using a real leaf, a piece of paper and some crayons.

  1. Find a nice leaf that you like
  2. Place the leaf on a flat surface – like a desk or counter top
  3. Lay a blank piece of paper over the leaf
  4. Now take the crayon and color on the piece of paper, over top where the leaf is at

There it is! A magic image of a leaf will appear where you are coloring!

#2 Pumpkin Patch

What you will need:

  1. Hard boiled eggs (How many depends on how big your pumpkin patch will be)
  2. Orange food coloring (or mix yellow and red)
  3. A black marker
  4. A piece of cardboard to place your pumpkin patch on
  5. Empty cardboard paper towel rolls or toilet paper rolls
  6. Left over Easter grass OR green construction paper
  7. White Vinegar

What you do:

  1. Hard boil the eggs
  2. Place 1 cup of HOT water in a small container
  3. Add about 8 drops of food coloring to the water
  4. Add 1/4th cup of white vinegar to the dye mixture (to strengthen the dye)
  5. Dip the eggs into the dye and then let dry (an empty egg carton makes a good drying rack)
  6. Let the eggs completely dry
  7. Draw faces on the pumpkin eggs using a pencil
  8. Once you are satisfied with the faces, use the black marker to trace over your penciled faces

-You can even draw black lines from top to bottom to look like the natural marks found on a pumpkin

  • Cut a piece off of the paper towel roll so that an egg will fit in it (this makes a stand for your pumpkin)

-You can color or decorate your pumpkin stand in any way you would like!

  • Cut thin strips of the green construction paper to make grass or use Easter grass

-Attach the grass to the piece of cardboard using glue.

  • Place your pumpkins in their stand and place them on the cardboard grass patch and you have your very own pumpkin patch.

Yummy Snacks

Recipes provided by R.O.C.K. (Raising Our Celiac Kids)
Celiac disease is an inherited immune disorder that results in an intolerance to gluten and other similar proteins. Rock was founded in 1991 by Danna Korn. The group has grown to international proportions help families far and wide. For more information contact: Marzi Davis at

Yield: About 70 chips


2 medium sweet potatoes
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. Sugar (substitute stevia or sweet and safe or other sugar substitutes if appropriate)
½ tsp. cinnamon


  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Coat a baking sheet with vegetable cooking spray.
  2. Wash potatoes
  3. Cut into thin slices, and place in large bowl. Pour oil onto the palms of your hands. Gently rub oil onto sweet-potato slices, tossing to combine.
  4. Place slices in a single layer on prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake 20 minutes - turn chips over and bake until slightly crisp, about 5 minutes.
  6. Transfer to plate; cool 5 minutes and serve.



Pecan Crust:
2 c. pecans
3/4 c. sugar substitute (Stevia or Sweet and Safe - can be found at most local health food stores or ordered from the Diet Center at 203-655-6268)
2 oz melted unsalted butter

Pie Filling:
2 lb soft cream cheese
1 c. sugar substitute (Stevia or Sweet and Safe - Can be found at most local health food stores or ordered from the Diet Center at 203-655-6268)

Add one at a time:
4 eggs

Then add:
1 c sour cream
4 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 c pumpkin
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1. Preheat over to 275.

For the Crust:

  • Combine all ingredients in food processor until well blended then press into bottom of 10 inch spring form pan.

For the Pie Filling

  1. Combine and mix all ingredients in an electric mixer until well mixed
  2. Pour mixture into ungreased 10 into the pan with the crust
  3. Place in center of oven (With an empty cookie tray on shelf below) and bake for 2 hours and 45 minutes
  4. Remove from oven and gently run knife along inside edge of pan
  5. Let cool in pan overnight or in the refrigerator

Resources for nutrition:

The Darien Diet  & Wellness Center

-   Offers nutritional counseling, products, and supplements
            -    203-655-6268 ask for Laura
            -    e-mail:

Juice Plus+
-A nutritional supplement offering whole food nutrition and is backed by science, showing many health benefits.

Website Resources:

  1. is our comprehensive website with information and evaluation forms for Berard Method AIT.
  2. a very large free website devoted to children and learning. Full of educational material suitable for home schooling as well as arts and crafts
  3. Center for the Study of Autism – Lots of useful links to other resources
  4. Autism Research Institute is devoted to conducting research and disseminating the results of research, on the causes of autism and on methods of preventing, diagnosing and treating autism and other severe behavioral disorders of childhood. Also provides summaries of research on AIT.

The Counseling Center has been approved by Berard Auditory Integration Training Systems, Inc. as an official AIT training organization. Children and adults who benefit from AIT have been previously diagnosed with diverse learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, Downs Syndrome, PDD, CAPD, autism, tinnitus, cerebral palsy, depression and others. Some clients have no specific diagnosis but either had painful hearing, abnormal speech patterns, age inappropriate speech, jargon, echolalia or no speech.  AIT is a ten-day program of listening to music that has been specially filtered for the individual’s needs.  We find that most people enjoy this listening program and it can be calming and soothing.  We have offices both in Darien, CT and Leicester (near Asheville), NC and also provide an “In-Home” program for those who live at a distance.


  • Reduction in Hypersensitivity
  • Improved interest in Verbalization & Communication
  • Auditory Comprehension & Articulation
  • Interaction with Others & Diminished Antisocial Behavior
  • Increased Comfort Level
  • Independence & Self-Esteem
  • Age-Appropriate Behavior
  • Improved Academic Performance and Responsibility in School
  • Improved Attention Span & Short-Term Memory
  • Reduction in Hyper-acute Hearing
  • Less Impulsivity and Restlessness
  • Reduction in Distractibility
  • Less Irritability
  • Improved Writing & Language Skills
  • Improved Mood

Thank you to our friends and supporters:
Patricia Hastings, Al McClain, Alexandra Winans, Denise Lowell, WNC LD Symposium, Laura Dorr, and all our clients and their parents and guardians.
Contributions: If you would like and are able to contribute to the Scholarship fund, please contact our office.

Official website address:
Official e-mail address:

Connecticut contact information:

The Counseling Center
AIT Division
7 Tokeneke Rd.
Darien, CT 06820
Phone: 203-655-1091

North Carolina contact information:

The Counseling Center
AIT Division
690 Boyd Rd
Leicester, NC 28748
Phone: 828-683-6900 Fax: 828-683-0303

FAQs about The Counseling Center and AIT

Q: When was this treatment first developed?

A: Over 35 years ago in France by Dr. Guy Berard an ENT doctor.

Q: What overall philosophy is the treatment based on?

A: AIT is helpful for auditory and neurological problems and related speech/language, learning issues and behaviors. Originally, Dr. Berard studied and utilized some of the work of Dr. Tomatis but instead of focussing on the emotional and psychological issues as Dr. Tomatis did (he believed that autism was caused by a mother-child emotional bonding problem), Dr. Berard addressed the auditory and neurological issues.

Q: Approximately how many children on the autistic spectrum have participated in this treatment in 2004?

A: Approx. 80 in the autism spectrum in our office and “in-home” programs.  We also work with all ages and issues including ADD/ADHD, CAPD, dyslexia, speech/language issues, tinnitus and depression.

Q: Approximately how many children on the autistic spectrum have participated in this treatment from 2000-2005 (the past five years)?        

A: Around 5-600 with our in office and “in-home” programs.

Q: How much time would it require to do the program?

A: Initial Evaluation = 45 minutes to 1 ½ hrs. to determine if appropriate.
AIT  = 20 half-hour sessions usually done twice per day for a total of 10 days.

Q: How much would it cost the typical family to do the treatment?

A: AIT costs $1500.00 for the “In-Home” Program. Some insurance companies may reimburse a portion of the fees. Scholarships and payment plans are also available.

Q: Are scholarships available?  What is a typical scholarship given?

A: Yes, we do offer scholarships and payment plans based on financial needs. We have given approx. $20,000.00 worth of scholarships each year.  Scholarships may range from $200 to $900 with no-interest payment plans also available for balances due.

Q: Who directs and/or facilitates the treatment?

A: Sarah Gewanter, MSW, ACSW, LCSW, Director and Certified Berard Method AIT Practitioner. Ms. Gewanter is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 25 years experience working with children and families with special needs. She was trained in the Berard Method AIT in 1994.

Q: Where does this treatment take place?                        

A: It can take place either in our offices in Darien, CT, Asheville area, NC or in the convenience of your home or place of choice.

Q: What equipment is available and how is it obtained?

A: When a person has completed the Initial Evaluation and is appropriate for the AIT, if doing the “In-Home” program, they are provided with high-quality headphones, CD’s, instructions and all our phone numbers so that they can reach us at any time for supervision and monitoring by phone. The only thing they need is a CD player. If done in the office, all equipment needed is in the office.

Q: How do you define “success” within your treatment?

A: We see improvements in a number of different areas depending on the individual including but not limited to: decrease in sensitivity to sound and other sensory issues, improvement in speech and language ability, more calmness, able to be more "easy-going”, better ability to focus and attend even in noisy environments, ability to distinguish foreground from background sounds, improved social skills, balance, coordination, lessening or elimination of tinnitus.

Q: Why do you feel this treatment is the best option for families with an autistic child?

A: Based on the research and experiential evidence, this is one of the most important treatments that can help make a difference. Although sometimes other issues must be addressed also (such as nutritional ones), AIT is one of the important pieces of the puzzle. Berard method of AIT is one of the few treatments that has been well researched and has the best track record over time.