Billie M. Thompson, Ph.D.

Presentation + Questions & Answers
For ADD-Holistic Discussion Group

Date: Mon, 11 Oct 1999 15:02:21 -0600 (MDT)
Subject: ADD Visiting Expert Introduction

I am excited that one of the top experts on the Tomatis Method has agreed to be the honored Visiting Expert on the ADD-Holistic discussion group. The Tomatis Method has been used to successfully treat ADD/ADHD, autism, dyslexia, learning disabillities, and sensory integration and motor skills difficulties. It is one of the techniques recommended by Dr. Andrew Weil to treat ADD.

Billie M. Thompson, Ph.D., is Founder and Director of Sound Listening & Learning Centers in Phoenix, Arizona and Pasadena, California. Dr. Thompson received her doctorate in 1979 from Arizona State University and was trained and certified by the developers of the methods offered in the Centers, including Dr. Tomatis. She is a specialist in human development training who has spent 25 years in the educational and training fields. A pioneer in bringing the Tomatis Method to the U.S, she has hosted U.S. Tomatis training with Dr. A. A. Tomatis and edited the English translations of two Tomatis books, The Conscious Ear and The Ear and Language. With Don Campbell, Dr. Thompson hosted 2 week Power of Sound workshops from 1992-97. She is organizing US training for the Tomatis Method.

Recent national presentations include:

Dr. Thompson's opening post will follow later tonight (Monday).

Date: Sun, 26 Sep 1999 03:25:22 EDT
Subject: RE ADD internet discussion group

ADD/ADHD Discussion Group

I often see children and adults who want to improve their focusing, attention, concentration, and learning abilities. Some of them are diagnosed ADD or ADHD. The solution offered in the Sound Listening & Learning Center since 1987 is called the Tomatis Method. It has a fifty year history in Europe. The results vary from person to person. It is a program of sound stimulation and consultation provided during daily sessions of 2 hours for three to four intensives of 15 days. Whereas the person's hearing is generally good, they have a problem with organizing what they hear. The results vary from person to person, and we work with all ages, toddler through elderly. We have worked successfully with hundreds of people with attention problems. Here are a few testimonials from adults, teenages, or parents of children who have done the program.

MS is an engineer who completed 60 hours of Tomatis training at age 37. He describes his experience during his participation.

At age 36 years, for as long as I could remember life had been a very scary place. This changed when my ears were opened after 30 years of being shut down to pitch levels that as a child were either emotionally threatening and/or scary. My life has changed in many ways thanks to the staff of the Sound Listening and Learning Center.

My new partner is a school teacher who noticed that I was pronouncing words incorrectly, I reversed numbers and letters. She thought I may have a learning disability. In the process of researching learning disabilities I found a book called Sensory Integration and the Child by Dr. Jean Aryes and a Reader's Digest article about a girl who had auditory problems which caused her to shut out the world. I determined from my research that I had a form of Sensory Integration (SI) problem, so I decided it was time to find a solution.

After many calls and repeating my symptoms many times, I located a Therapist who told me that my problem sounded like an auditory one and suggested I call the Sound Listening and Learning Center. After talking to the Sound Listening and Learning Center I decided to schedule a date to be tested to determine if their program could help me. My insight paid off. Testing showed that I had shut down to listening at the age of six and they could help with my limitation.

As I participated in a program that was tailor-made for my needs, my progress was monitored and adjustments made to my program as changes occurred. During my participation, I became aware of how different sounds made me feel inside and how these sounds stimulated many emotions which were unknown to me.

After completing 45 hours of training, I noticed some major improvements in my life. I began to look forward to the start of a new day. I found I could organize my time better which helps in problem solving. I could tolerate the sounds and movements of large crowds, which caused me great difficulties throughout my life. I found myself talking more and starting conversations with people any time I had the opportunity to do so. The world around me seemed to be much brighter and a more friendly place than I could ever have imagined. My balance improved and my handwriting improved, all because my ears were opened up to listening to myself for the first time. After I started listening to myself I found myself to be a very interesting person.

I completed 60 hours of listening training a couple of days after my 37th birthday. In the past on my birthdays I never really gave myself a gift before. This one was different because I gave myself the gift of being able to listen to the world with open ears is. In my opinion, this is the GREATEST GIFT anyone can give to himself.

The future seemed to take me to a feeling similar to being a child leaving home for the first time to seek adventures with other people. To seek adventures with other people, this is a new concept for me. Was I afraid? You better believe I was, although with my ears open I had the confidence to overcome any obstacle that life had to offer and come out a winner.

A year later MS wrote the following: It's been a year since I've had my ears opened up. A lot of major changes have occurred over the year. I'm able to tolerate crowds, which I had a major difficulty with before I came to Sound Listening & Learning Center. I'm actually doing public presentations, which I've dreaded all my life. I've noticed that my people skills have improved all the way down to a posture change. I really feel quite positive that a year later I'm still experiencing changes within my posture, my voice, and just my attitude for living. I think that it's really improved, being able to listen to the world at a normal level, other than with filtered or reduced hearing. My life has taken a massive change, changed enough that I'm going to get married for the first time in October.

9 year old Ryan was diagnosed with ADD was able to change from being a disruptive student to a contributing student. His parents described the changes he made.

Ryan had failed so miserably in school and had had so much negative pressure from peers that he decided that he was "stupid and worthless" and had all but given up. After taking the program at Sound Listening & Learning Center, he is a renewed child. He no longer walks with his head down, but looks up and stands tall. He is making mostly As and Bs. He is approaching people...and tries to make friends. Ryan read the most books in his classroom and won the gold medal. He is a much happier child because he can achieve personal goals. He was invited to try out for the school play this year.

A mother told about her daughter's experience with the Tomatis Method five years after she began it. Cindy continued to come to the center several times a year for follow-up work.

My daughter Cindy is now fourteen, a freshman in high school, and on the honor roll for the first time in her life! I think it's great, and she does, too. In fact, the Vice Principal at the high school (who knew her last year because she was also at her junior high school) called Cindy at home to congratulate her. Cindy was just floored that the Vice Principal noticed her achievement. When teachers and administrators notice these changes, the students really appreciate it.

Fortunately, all is going well now. But we were aware since kindergarten that Cindy had ADHD. We did not try medication because she would do okay without it. She could not easily do things children normally did at that age, such as put together puzzles and play Nintendo. She used short phrases and sentences and did not speak much. She held her emotions and feelings inside, not expressing them.

Following her participation in the Tomatis Method, I am amazed at all she can do now - reading so well, directions, puzzles, everything - that she just does it. She had not had to learn anything. That it was all there - this large vocabulary, sense of humor, reasoning - she hasn't had to learn it. It all was covered up and just had to be uncovered. How this must feel to her must be incredible and a little scary. That's how we felt about it. It is a little unsettling to have a new person in your home, and that's what she is. It is so wonderful. This is what I've been dreaming could happen to her. I knew there was more in there, but so many people have told me "She's fine; she does well in school." But at such a cost of so much effort and her feelings about herself because she knew there was so much more, too.

Over the last 50 years we have dramatically expanded our understanding of the effect of sound vibration and stimulation on human life. Researchers, educators, clinicians and healers have made the connection between sound and such human facilities as auditory processing, speech, social interaction, and the developmental process, among others. New theories about the role of the ear in learning, communication, socialization, and rhythmic movement have emerged as more sophisticated evaluation and diagnostic tools have been developed.

We have, in fact, seen an explosion of techniques and methods that can now be classified under the comprehensive umbrella of Sound Training. This emerging field, which includes many applications of sound stimulation, can positively impact the human nervous system and one's abilities to understand incoming sensory data and to speak and act appropriately. (1) Much of this sound-based knowledge builds upon the pioneering research and technology of French physician Alfred A. Tomatis, whose system is well documented by patents in the U.S. and worldwide.

There are now a variety of educational, training, and healing methods based on sound training that can accelerate language development and learning ability as well as impact one's confidence and social interaction as skills develop more quickly. Expanded educational applications will evolve in the future, along with other alternate sound-based technologies and methodologies aimed at improving human interaction and performance goals. Sound Training is an idea whose time has come. This appears obvious from the work now being done that is drawn, by bits and pieces, from the original sound training methodology and equipment. There now is a sizable group of professionals working with a variety of methods, materials, and machines of sound stimulation. Their goals include, but are not limited to, bettering or enhancing the following:

The growing acknowledgement of sound training by both educational and clinical third party payees around the world also indicates an idea whose time has come. For example, in Germany and Switzerland, clinical applications of the Tomatis Method are covered under National Insurance. In the U.S., the state of Texas pays for the program for auditory processing improvement via a Medicaid waiver program called CLASS. The New Mexico Department of Education has funded programs for a group of 3- to 5-year-olds (described below). A federal court in Arizona awarded a mother a judgment against the Phoenix Elementary School District #1 that requires the district to pay for her son's program. Several school districts in California and a few other states have begun to pay for individual programs, including L.A. Unified, the largest school district in the U.S. Some insurance companies have paid for the program on the basis of individual needs for both children and adults. The Veterans Administration has paid for a few cases, as has the Arizona Department of Developmental Disabilities.

Likewise, sound training in our center has received national attention from media as diverse at the IEEE journal Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine, TV programs including Sightings and Medical Breakthroughs, Tomorrow's Cures, Dr. Andrew Weil's Self-Healing Newsletter, Superlearning 2000 (2), The Definitive Guide to Alternative Medicine (3), The Out-of-Sync Child(4) , and Don Campbell's best-selling book, The Mozart Effect™(5). Sound training and its technology are based on the observations that 1) people of all ages can be trained to process incoming sound more effectively and that 2) many people have weaknesses or problems in their ability to process sound that affect them in a multitude of ways (1). Sound training also recognizes that listening ability is a foundation skill for people of all ages. There is a significant difference between hearing and listening. Listening is defined as the active ability, intention, and desire to focus on sounds we want to analyze and to reject the ones we do not want. Listening requires a neurophysiological capability as well as desire. Hearing is simply the passive reception of sound. When the listening process is disrupted, whether by accident, illness (such as chronic ear infections), or other trauma, many kinds of communication and learning difficulties can occur.

Sound training was originally used, nearly 50 years ago, with opera singers who could no longer produce certain sounds with their voices. The sounds missing from the singers' voices were also missing from their hearing. Drugs, the remedy of the day, often failed to provide an effective solution. Ammunitions factory workers who had suffered hearing loss from too long exposure to loud noises were being treated at the same time, and the similarities between their hearing tests and those of the opera singers were noted. This led to the "Tomatis Effect" hypothesis, independently confirmed at the Sorbonne in 1957, that the voice could only produce what the ear could hear. Two corollaries followed: 1) if the sounds are restored to the ear, they will be immediately restored to the voice, and 2) with sufficient conditioning of one's ear to one's own voice heard with a good quality, the changes can be maintained and strengthened. Many of the opera singers' children took the sound training, followed by other parents and children who noticed the improvements gained through sound training and who wanted to know if it might help them, too. Over the last half century, the methodology and accompanying technology expanded to many applications in several fields, in particular, the following broad areas: education, clinical, personal growth, music, native language, and foreign language.

A sound training program stimulates the ear and develops inner motivation to listen, right audio-vocal control, a supportive listening environment, and the ear-voice relationship essential to receive and self-monitor speech and the singing voice. The sound training includes multiple proprietary components of equipment and materials, special earphones for bone and air conduction, Listening Test Machine for giving a Listening Test), enhanced recordings (music tapes/CDs, including Mozart, Gregorian Chant, and a variety of active voice tapes), and program protocols for machine settings and tapes to use with different types of applications and individual users.

The most essential part of the sound training is the patented device (several versions exist), which is connected to a good quality tape player or other media that allows a full range of frequencies normal to human hearing to be heard. The device can filter recordings of music and voice; the sound travels through two channels, with different settings. A gating mechanism alternates the sound between the channels when it reaches a specific intensity. The sound is delivered through special earphones with bone and air conduction. A new sound training device will soon be announced. It is portable, uses the music of Mozart, Gregorian Chant, and folk songs, and also includes the functionality to allow the listener to do active repetitions, such as words, phrases, humming, and songs. Each of its fields of application has three levels: Developmental, Competency, and Proficiency/Professional. The three levels are each a combination of the degree of proficiency in respect to the application [reading, writing, etc.] and the length of the sound training work already done. Listening protocols are designed to educate the ear to its full functions as a receiver, discriminator, and energy generator. The right ear is trained to be the leading or dominant ear to make for the most efficient and direct processing of speech by the speech centers in the left hemisphere of the brain. Through a microphone connected to the equipment, one's ears can receive good quality audio-vocal feedback of one's voice. Sound training continues to evolve as technology changes.

The sound training begins with an Initial Assessment (IA) to identify listening strengths and weaknesses. The assessment (including a battery of tests, a detailed review of history, observation of the person, and a consultation to review the results) typically requires one to two hours. A trained professional works with the adult or family of a child to define appropriate goals and determine the most appropriate length and type of listening training for an individual's specific needs. If an individual is unable or unwilling to complete the test battery, the trained professional may still recommend a sound training program based on a comprehensive understanding of the person's needs, which is gained during the IA. Individuals typically listen from one to two and one-half hours daily to unfiltered and/or filtered music and voice processed through the equipment in order to achieve specific goals. While listening, individuals participate in creative activities such as drawing or painting, putting puzzles together, playing games, conversing, or simply relaxing. Many of the activities help to integrate reflex and tactile sensory systems.

The listening program has both passive and active phases provided over several intensives. One goal of the passive phase of listening is to encourage creativity and experimentation with new activities. During the passive phase, the individual listens to sounds, primarily the music of Mozart, which stimulates the development of thinking and rhythm abilities, and Gregorian Chant, which possesses stimulating overtones. Children hear songs and stories that stimulate their curiosity and reintroduce the rhythm and intonation patterns of their native language or one they are trying to learn.

During the active phase, the individual speaks into a microphone as his or her voice is played back to his/her own ears through the special headphones so that it can be heard with a good quality and it can condition the ear to retain the effects. The individual may be asked to sing, hum, repeat words, phrases and chants, and read aloud with music. The conditioning of one's ear to one's voice heard with a good quality is an essential part of the program. The active work can progress from basic sounds and speech for some children with developmental and learning disabilities to the highly effective, self-monitored oral activities of professional speakers, singers, actors, musicians, salespeople, and others who depend on their voice to earn a living. The internationally known French actor Gerard Depardieu described his experience with sound training as helping him organize his thinking, improve his speech, and eventually achieve his world-renowned acting abilities (6).

A minimal program typically includes two to four intensives covering a total of 60 to 90 hours of Sound Training. The first intensive is usually 30 hours. Three to six week breaks for integration of changes separate the first two to three intensives. With persons who have significant difficulty with language, for a variety of reasons, the program can typically extend to 200 hours or more (using additional intensives of 16 to 30 hours several times a year) to assist the individual to further improve abilities and maintain effective skills. The continued intensives are necessary for some presenting problems in order to provide sufficient conditioning to achieve the desired breakthrough behaviors. The initial intensives provide the foundation upon which is built the basis for rapid change. Caity's experience (7) provides a good example of someone whose major changes did not show up until after 75 hours of Sound Training. Caity has some changes that were very positive throughout her training, and when she sang during the first part of the program, all of her voice range in the middle language range was mostly missing. That changed and was analyzed by several music therapists from pre and post videotaped singing sessions observing Caity sing.

The sound training basically trains or conditions the ear until the individual is capable of retaining the benefits without the training. The equipment does not become a replacement for one's own good listening; instead, it becomes the conduit for the education, or re-education, of one's ears to their greatest potential.

The Consultant provides meetings throughout the program, teaching effective communication, social interaction, and accelerated learning strategies to use with one's newly enhanced listening. Meetings with families provide effective strategies for individual support within the group and consistent structure for children so they can develop their abilities to a high level. Those who wish to learn more about this program or others who use it can visit our website and and an American website at Our center provides outreach programs in other locations where there is sufficient interest.

I am very happy to answer questions if you e-mail me at or They can be about the Tomatis Method or about availability in your area. One book by Tomatis is available in English, and is the first book he wrote. The Ear and Language was updated in 1996 before publication.

Date: Tue, 12 Oct 1999 09:09:14 EDT
Subject: Re: ADD Opening Post from Dr. Billie Thompson (Tomatis Method)

Dr. Thompson,
Is this method the same as what is called Auditory Training like in the book by Annebell Stahli that is autistic?? If not, what are the differences. I have a Asperger Syndrome(high functioning autistic) son and a ADHD son.
Sharon in TX

Date: Wed, 13 Oct 1999 00:23:29 EDT
Subject: Re: ADD-Holistic Question #1

Hi Sharon,
Tomatis and AIT are not the same. I describe differences in an article published 3-4/99 in the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology called "The Emerging Field of Sound Training." There are a number of differences. Tomatis holds all the patents in the field. The program provides a developmental process. It takes at least 60 to 90 hours to establish a good, foundation in language and some motor planning. Increased socialization occurs in most cases. Language emerges and the child listens to his/her own voice through the Tomatis machine, so that it is heard as a good quality sound. The training for Tomatis is at least 6 weeks. It is 4 days for AIT. We are working with listening, or how what is heard is organized. AIT focuses on hearing perception. In my experience, Tomatis does all and more than AIT. Berard who developed AIT was a client of Tomatis first, then a colleague, and then decided to develop his own machine, using some components no longer under patent protection. The patented features still active in the Tomatis Method are delivery of sound through headphones with bone and air conduction with a delay between these and the active voice work. Tomatis uses Mozart, Gregorian Chant, and often the filtered mother's voice to provide the sounds of language as the child first heard them and used them to organize the brain. There are many differences. If you want more information, you can contact me directly, go to my website,, or call 602-381-0086.

We work with many high functioning autistic and ADHD kids. Some go into gifted classes to develop those gifted areas. Our first step is to test the children, and if we cannot do this with the standard battery (many autistic and young children fit this category), then we start them with a program to create a foundation of sound upon which language and organized use of information can be built. It's very amazing to watch. For example, a Phoenix mom won a federal law suit last year and her son gained 2 yrs 9 months in language ability in a duration of 9 months. He had lost ground before that and was at less than 1% in language competency before we started to work with him.

With ADD and ADHD, the children get more focused and organized by getting more balanced in their whole system.

Thanks for asking the question.

Billie Thompson

Date: Sun, 17 Oct 1999 07:59:00 -0600 (MDT)
Subject: ADD Questions for Dr. Thompson

Dr. Thompson,

Thank you very much for your presentation!

One thing that struck me about the some of the case histories presented is that there was a significant transformation of the child or adult, not only just an improvement in ADD/ADHD symptoms.

Below are a few questions that I am forwarding to you. Sorry about the delay in forwarding these questions to the list.

  1. For a person who might be unsure if they want to try the Tomatis Method, are lists of 1- or 2-day presentations / workshops in various parts of North America where one can learn more details about the method and meet others who have had success in using it? Or is it simply better to try and locate the closet Tomatis Center and speak to them about workshops.

  2. It sounds like most of the work/play with the Tomatis machine is done at home. Is it the case that the machine is usually rented? Or is it purchased? Or maybe I am misunderstanding and the practice with the machine is done in the practitioner's office. If the practice done primarily at home, how often does the child or adult go in for followup evaluation?

  3. I noticed a web page with addresses of Tomatis Method centers at Are there practitioners of the Tomatis Method that are not listed in that section? Is the best way to find the closest practitioner by contacting one of the Centers on the above-mentioned web page?

    As an aside to ADD/ADHD....

  4. I would be intersted in trying the Tomatis Method for improvement in my vocal and singing abilities. Is there a Center in the New England area (Southern New Hampshire) that has experience in this area?
Best Wishes,
- Mark
Home of ADD/ADHD Holistic Mailing List
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Date: Sun, 17 Oct 1999 18:40:47 -0600 (MDT)
Subject: Re: ADD-Holistic Questionsv
Hi Mark,
Here are the answers to your questions.

The Tomatis program is done in a certified center. The equipment from Tomatis International is not portable at the present time. Nor is it rentable.There are plans for portable, but not available now. There are some people who have taken portions of the method and reference it as theirs is Tomatis, but it is not.

Regarding other Tomatis centers, most of those listed in were people trained by Tomatis, though not all are currently certified by the International organization. You could find someone closest to you. The Amherst center in MA is closest to you. Also, I am doing outreach programs in the Boston area. In fact, I am at this moment in Boston (through this Thursday) finishing up a group of listeners and doing Initial Assessments this week for others who want to start in the new year. I have worked with some professional singers, mostly in CA. There has been interest in Boston from some music teachers at the university, though they typically lack funds to do it. If you're interested, let me know, and I'll let you know when I'll be in Boston next year.

I have a program for curious professionals who want to know more about the program without commiting to 60 hours of training. It includes 2 days of listening following an Initial Assessment. It's called Ear Voice Connection. The cost is $350 in Phoenix and Pasadena. I don't know if the other centers offer this or not. The cost of the Initial Assessment in Boston through our outreach program was itself $350. If you wanted to do something this week and you could work with my schedule, you could do the Initial Assessment and two hours of listening on the same day (only one trip to Boston) for $150. The discount is a professional courtesy for the opportunity you gave me. My cell phone is 602-549-4077, if you want to do this. I'm in Waltham off the 128 at exit 27A.

Thanks, and Let me know if there are other questions to respond to. It did not take too much time.

Billie Thompson

From: "Pamela J. W. Cain"
Subject: Tomatis -- CAPD eval??

Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 07:33:17 -0400


I have a 8 yr old daughter who has attention issues (I am still waiting for an ADD diagnosis). We assessed her for central auditory processing disorders and we found that she did not exhibit difficulty in this area. (Normal hearing thresholds, also.) However, she frequently "zones off" and does not absorb essential information. Following directions is problematic. Currently, academics are fine, but behavior (out-of-seat, excess movement, etc.) is not acceptable for a classroom. She needs constant redirection/ focusing on the activity. Homework takes an inordinate length of time.

It sounds like this Tomatis program is geared for remediation of CAPD (central auditory processin disorder) rather than attention issues. What is the effectiveness of this program when you take out the subjects with CAPD? Would a child presenting with normal processing abilities benefit from a "listening program."

I am a speech-language pathologist. Hence, I am also interested in how comparable this program is to Fast ForWord (a phonemic awareness computer program). If you are not familiar with this, it also addresses pitch discrimination, phoneme discrim, and skills for following directions.

Thank you in advance for your answer.

Pamela J.W. Cain
-Peace Be With You

Subject: Re: Tomatis -- CAPD eval??

Date: Sat, 30 Oct 1999 03:06:09 EDT

Hi Pamela,
I'm emailing you directly and also to the group to answer your question.

The Tomatis program is much broader and comprehensive in scope than the FastForword program. I did that training so am familiar with it. In general, when a child has completed Tomatis and then done FF, they do much better much quicker.

We deal with problems of listening, not just CAPD problems. The best way to determine if the Tomatis program would be helpful is to look at the symptoms of listening problems (you can see our site at or call for a checklist ana other info at 602-381-0086. The problems with maintaining attention include a focus more on one's own thoughts than on what is coming in from the environment outside. The training is often helpful for this. Most of our clients have normal hearing. Many of them work very hard to do homework because they have difficulty integrating information. This involves the vestibular processing, which is improved by the Tomatis Method. The vestibular system is the major integrator of our sensory system. The other two major integrators are vision and the cochlea. If we change the ability to organize information, we effect many aspects of processing. I will be available to answer your questions if you want to call the office. We do some outreach programs in different areas of the US and can let you know if we will be in your area if you forward your address and phone.

Thanks for the questions. I hope this has helped answer them.

Billie Thompson