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decoding of pre-linguistic and early linguistic vocalizations...
Auditory feedback is very important! Deaf humans prior to the 19th century simply did not learn to speak.

.......Tomatis Topics

I ncorporation of vocalizations: Prior to language vocalizations were emotionally based. Laughing, crying for example and tone of vocalization that went along with gestures to amplify there meaning. They might have been used to communicate emotions. (Trying to sound scary, trying to sound mean.)

This was the whole tonal aspect of communication that we often assess through selectivity. Autistic and PDD children miss out on the whole part of communication that is indicated by tone of voice. The rise in the voice at the end of the sentence that indicates a question is lost on them. The serious voice/ the kidding voice. These are subtitles that they often miss. Often when an autistic/PDD child develops speech there is a monotone quality to their voice. That's why they often respond to a dramatic presentation. For example the child who will not respond to his name but if you add some drama to the calling he may respond.

Since vocalizations are closely tied to emotions and can be tied to gestural communication this can be an important channel for working with these children. Using their emotions to get the vocalization and gesturing is an important pre-requisite for language. This is a way of forming a bridge to more symbolic expression.


C hanges in the Auditory Apparatus: Again just as there is no single organ of speech as there is no single organ of listening. According to Donald there needed to be a feedback system for modulating speech output and sound modulation. In other words we had to hear ourselves speak. Tomatis would suggest that this is accomplished through bone conduction.

An important feature of the Tomatis Method as is the Audio-vocal work and indicates why it is so important to introduce the microphone early in the children's program. Auditory feedback is very important! Deaf humans prior to the 19th century simply did not learn to speak. (p243)

Disturbances or delay in auditory feedback from one's own voice disturbs speech greatly There are many new studies on the effects of delayed feedback in language processing disorders. Paula Tallal at Rutgers University has been doing studies on this. It is also why we need to understand precession and delay all the more. We know that stretching out the sounds in words can be a helpful technique with Autistic /PDD children. Chronic middle ear infections can lead to phonological disorders, and there is significant history of ear infections in the Autistic/PDD population and while I am not suggesting that it always causes the disorder, it can certainly be a contributing cause.


T he shift from vocalizations to speech was another important shift in evolution. There is no single organ of Speech. We turned a digestive and respiratory organ into a Speech Apparatus. Firstly there was the development of a high-speed phonetic voco-motor control device. It consisted of a new descended larynx with a More supple glottis, an Altered sub-oral cavity and tongue, Changed oral and lower facial musculature, and Corresponding new sensory and motor pathways and New cortical representation of vocal skill.

It is easy to see how the complexity of the small motor mouth movements of speech could be a motor planning nightmare in the most traditional views of apraxia, for the dyspraxic Autistic/PDD child. In addition to changes in the vocal apparatus there also had to be a change in the auditory apparatus with the emergence of speech. There was a change in auditory perception. The decoding of pre-linguistic and early linguistic vocalizations from the outside and from ourselves speaking, also placed new demands on the auditory system by requiring it to perceive words and phrases as auditory objects or events. In resolving a word, the human auditory system achieves object constancy, much like vision and touch.


W ords and more complex auditory events such as sentences and longer utterances take on the perceptual characteristics usually attributed to three-dimensional visual and tactile objects. Most environmental sounds, such as the sound of the air-conditioning are aspects of events, rather than events in themselves, where words stand out as events. The perceptual skills needed for breaking down the speech stream into its constituent parts are uniquely powerful in humans.

Many animal can hear as well or better than humans, yet they cannot breakdown long stream of human conversation into independent word units. They hear the speech stream as a continuous, highly complex sound instead of a series of independent, identifiable auditory objects. Animal trainers know this and stress the first or most salient syllable of a command to reduce the need to segment the sound stream. This trick is also used in discrete trial behavioral training such as Lovass because the Autistic/PDD child has the same difficulty in forming object constancy. By emphasizing the first or most salient syllable of a command we may help sort out the sound stream for them.

The typical example is of the child who won't respond to their name but comes running from three floors away at the opening musical bars for Barney. It isn't a hearing problem, as we so well know, but it is certainly a listening problem involving the lack of auditory object constancy. It is this perceptual ability that constitutes a basic foundation of listening. I often describe this lack of auditory object constancy as moving everyday to a country where they spoke a different language. One day you were in China, the next in Italy etc. There wouldn't be enough time to form any auditory object constancy.

Hearing vs. Listening:

Tomatis talks about the difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is the passive perception of sound while Listening is the active interpretation of sound. Listening takes in all the functions of the vestibular-cochlear system that we have discussed so far. It is dependent on verticality and postural functions. It is dependent on bilateral coordination and laterality.

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