What is Audio-Visual Entrainment (AVE)?

Light and Sound Brain Machine now helping those with autism spectrum disorders

Can brain functioning be improved with flashing lights and pulsing tones? Many seem to think so reports David Siever, CEO of Mind Alive and the inventor and developer of a unique patented audio-visual device called the DAVID machine, which stands for Digital Audio Visual Integration Device. The actual creation of this machine in 1984 was driven by the needs of others at first to reduce stage fright, stress and anxiety and later to help people cope with their Attention Deficit problems such as concentration.

For many years it has been known that sound therapy utilizing strictly sound training, which de-sensitizes the person with sensory issues, has been helpful for many on the autism spectrum. By stimulating the auditory system, and through it, by stimulating the brain, methods such as the Tomatis Method has been able to reduce the autistic symptoms to varying degrees. Each autistic person is different and may respond differently to this program. In some cases results are seen within a few weeks, There are still good days and bad days but the trend is often upward, especially when you look back over a period of a few months. In many cases improvement has been noted in the following areas, decreased hypersensitivity to sound, reduced tactile defensiveness, improved language skills, improved appreciation for food and less picky in food preferences, better self image, improved social skills, better eye contact and less aggressive behaviors

Combining a method similar to this auditory training technique with the visual aspect of flashing lights also seems to have a very strong impact on the minds of those with autism spectrum disorders. The light and sound device consists of a set of earphones and eye goggles. What makes this piece of equipment work is a series of timed flashing white lights, coupled with intermittent pulsing tones that graduate in intensity so as not to overwhelm the listener. The actual process that take place is called brainwave entrainment, which is exactly as the name implies that is, training brain waves to fall into an specific pre-determined brainwave pattern such as the alpha state. This is much like what happens during a similar process called biofeedback, which helps the patient concentrate to relax their minds. The results are even verified by tracking brain wave patterns through a clinically administered EEG. The same or even better results are achieved even though a different process is utilized. The mix of the two sensory tools gently bring the mind to a relaxed calm alpha state which is the state that is achieved through years and years of training in the process of meditation all in a single session. No wonder it has such a wonderful effect on people.

When my son Jonathan was first diagnosed with autism, I was so frustrated with him that I actually went “outside the box” of traditional thinking and decided to give this unit a try. We were desperately looking for something other than the typical route prescribed by doctors of medicating our young child. This was way back in 1994, which were most likely, a therapy ten years ahead of its time. With the help of the staff of Mind Alive we managed to get Jonny, then 3 ½ years old to try the DAVID. Placing the earphones and eye goggles on his little head was no easy task. In spite of this fact, we persevered. Later we discovered doing this once he was sleeping was far more effective and less intrusive.

We saw such great results at first that we decided to run our own little “mini study” on him. For a period of six weeks we slipped into his bedroom after he had fallen to sleep and slipped the gear on his little head three times a week. The changes were quite evident in the areas of improved behavior, increased eye contact and more appropriate interaction to mention a few observations. His doctor even commented:

“Jonathan has been using a sound and light machine which his mother and the program perceive to have been of benefit to him. Although there is no formal information available to support this observation, there is certainly some informal information suggesting that this might in fact be a useful therapy” It is certainly worthy of further exploration and I will be in contact with the people using the machine for further information about it”

Pioneering new ideas are what I tend to gravitate to though carving out new things is no easy task. We were so impressed with the technology I decided to open a clinic to help others called “The Wellness Center”. Due to the sensory nature of the equipment the biggest challenge was getting the children to have the gear so close to their faces though this obstacle has since been overcome by using external light and sound tools. As long as we were able to get the gear on the other children with autism the results were typically good. . I then became pregnant with my fifth child and after two years of operation closed the clinic.

The easiest alternative to the actual clinic is the portable device carried by Mind Alive. Units start at $240.00 U.S. Dollars and can be purchased here

David Siever, founder of the DAVID in conjunction with CARE (Canadian Autism Resources & Events) are conducting a study to follow the effects of light and sound therapy on those with autism. The purposes of the study is to verify the positive results achieved by those with an autism spectrum disorder. Participants must live in the greater Edmonton area so they can be easily monitored for the most accurate and reliable results. If you or anyone you know is interested in participating in such a study please contact karen@autismtoday.net

Other testimonials: from those with either ADD and autism spectrum disorders or a combination

“Charles has always had problems with self-esteem and paying attention and being able to perform assigned tasks due to poor fine and gross motor skills. After using the DAVID he is a happy with self esteem, friends and lots more patience. He brought up his grades thirteen grades the first nine-week period of using the machine. Thanks David”…. Devera Jan Sneed.

“My son Michael, who is severely autistic doesn’t like anything unfamiliar so we had to restrain him gently in order for him to wear the headphones and he fought steadily for three weeks until the 21st day when something happened and he relaxed. It as a dramatic change he started listening and giggling and didn’t want to take it off. I even received a note from Mike’s teacher asking, “what has happened? Mike is calmer and we are seeing eye contact, which was non-existent prior to this. The funny thing was that I hadn’t mentioned using anything different prior to this time.”
Susan Klingenberg, mother

“We really did think life was a nightmare ever since our son David’s kindergarten days. David’s attention span and hyperactivity was not typical of other children. Automatically we blamed the teacher but later learned that David suffered from ADD. The doctor began with Ritalin, which didn’t seem to help. After Dave became tired of taking drugs we discovered the DAVID. The first time he used the treatment there was just a minor change but after weeks of using it, things began to happen. It was like David bloomed. His homework was complete, his grades went up and his attention in class is unbelievable”.
Gwenda Travis, mother

For further information and brainwave frequencies

Brainwaves change frequencies based on neural activity within the brain. Each of our senses (vision, touch, smell, taste and hearing) respond to activity from the environment and transmit that information to the brain. The senses of sight and hearing, by their very nature, provide a favorable mechanism to influence brainwaves. By presenting this pulsed audio and visual stimulation to the brain, after a short period of time, the brain begins to resonate, or entrain, at the same frequency as the stimulus. Because of this, we can slow down the brainwaves for: meditation, providing pain relief, inducing dream states and improving sleep. The DAVID (Digital Audio/Visual Integration Device) can also be used to speed up brainwaves, making the DAVID an ideal tool to treat slow brainwave disorders such as Attention Deficit Disorder, closed-head brain injury, Fibromyalgia, PMS, and Chronic Fatigue. The DAVID can also used to reduce depression, anxiety, insomnia and hypertension and for non-clinical applications such as for enhancing mental performance and boosting creativity.
In addition to entrainment, the imagery created by the visual and auditory stimulation provides a focus for the mind and quiets internal dialogue or chatter. The various areas of the brain begin to integrate into one whole functioning unit like the masters of meditation. With the DAVID, it is normal for most people to experience that same peace and tranquility of a meditator with only a half hour of use with any of the DAVIDs.

AVE is not only valuable for clinical use, but it has done wonders for increasing peak performance. Former Mr. Olympia – Bodybuilder Frank Zane “I’m in the best shape of my life, and one reason is mind machines.” Golfer Rocky Thompson attributes his winning of the PGA to using the Paradise. Sports Psychologist, Tom Hawes has used the Paradise in training several golfers in the LPGA. Christine Boudrais attributed her Silver Medal at the Lillihammer Olympics to using the Paradise for relaxing and visualizing.

Michael Hutchison, author of Megabrain, states, “In fact, out of all the mind machines I have evaluated, the DAVID is the one that I keep by my bed for my own light and sound/audio-visual entrainment sessions.”

Latest study:
New Visions School NeuroTechnology Replication Project 2000 – 2001
Michael Joyce

This hallmark study is the largest, most convincing study showing the effectiveness of the DAVID Paradise driving a multiple system to treat children with attentional disorders. The data generated in the NeuroTechnology (NT) replication project are the result of the efforts of seven Minnesota public schools (five elementary, one middle and one K-12). The NeuroTechnology sites, referred to as Designated Learning Sites (DLS), provided one to several school personnel to participate in a three-day NT training at New Visions School (NVS)/Minnesota Learning Resource Center (MLRC). This training (by Michael Joyce and Dave Siever) provided the skills used to initiate brain training on the children in their home districts. All of the hardware, software and related supplies were provided for each site through a charter school dissemination grant. Scheduled on-site mentoring was offered along with email and telephone correspondence as needed. The following report describes the results of their efforts.
Four of the elementary schools are located in rural Minnesota (Cold Spring, Perham, Naytahwaush, Bemidji) and another is located in the west Minneapolis suburb of Hopkins. The middle school is located in a north Minneapolis suburb, Fridley. The K-12 school is in the small northern Minnesota farming community of Greenbush. The Bemidji site was represented by several elementary schools that were serviced by a Bemidji State University psychology professor.

All sites, at this time, continue to successfully operate their programs. Through the successful implementation and demonstration of these sites, there are presently nine public elementary schools and one parochial school in Minnesota, along with three schools in Wisconsin and a K-12 school in South Dakota, who have started NeuroTech programs without grant assistance. These visionary schools have found that developmental neurological functions are a necessity for all successful learners and that NT tools can address essential developmental foundations of learning.

The Education Challenge
Traditionally, educators have viewed conditions such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) as primarily medical conditions and therefore outside the realm of education. Typically, children with such conditions are referred to the medical world to identify an appropriate medication to ameliorate the problem behavior. Therefore, one of the critical factors for the success of this project is training for educators so they understand the neuro-physiological basis for such problem behaviors and the effectiveness of NT, in this case, Audio Visual Entrainment (AVE) in re-educating the brain.

ADD/ADHD spans a broad diagnostic category, which is being applied to more and more disorders and therefore evaluation and treatment has traditionally been left to the medical community. ADHD is recognized as one of the most complex psychiatric and neurologically-based disorders of childhood with significant representation in adolescents and adults. ADHD rarely occurs in isolation and is often combined with other conditions including depression, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, learning disabilities, anxiety disorders, and other significant psychological, psychiatric, and neurological problems (Barkley, 1981; Ross & Ross, 1982; Rutter, 1983, Whalen, 1983).

ADHD is also one of the fastest growing conditions leading to children receiving special education services in the public school setting. Children with ADHD are often disruptive in the classroom, require frequent teacher input, do not generally keep up with their peers in academic pursuits, and often require additional services due to their significant difficulty with all aspects of learning. Additionally many children are misdiagnosed and actually have conditions of depression and anxiety. Medicating such children with stimulant medications in these cases is contraindicated and can even make their conditions significantly worse. More recently, schools have become involved to a much greater degree, and now provide screening tests to identify students with attentional disorders.

This scenario suggests that a training program that results in more or less permanent resolution of ADHD symptoms be preferred over the traditional medication management approach. NeuroTechnology (NT) is such an approach. NT has been studied extensively in clinical and research settings for the past twenty years. This approach, however, has not been utilized on a large scale in the school setting – until now. This project substantiates previous projects in schools in Minneapolis and Perham, MN and in Yonkers, NY. These demonstration projects illustrate that the public school setting is an ideal environment for conducting this type of training. This is particularly true for low-income inner city and rural families who do not have access to such training.
This project demonstrated the viability of utilizing this type of training/education process in the public elementary school setting. Because this intervention is a training process and not a clinical intervention, it is more appropriately applied in the educational setting rather than in the clinical setting. It is also clear that this intervention will not be available to the vast majority of children who need it due to the medical profession’s reliance on medication management, rather then educational approaches for such problems. Additionally, the evidence that medication compliance is significantly lower in low income families suggests that applying this training method in inner city and rural schools in low income areas would be a more effective method of addressing such impediments to learning. Further, low-income students cannot afford such training from a physician or psychologist and so do not have access to such an alternative approach for the remedy of their disability, even if it is available in their area.

This project provided the opportunity to demonstrate that effective alternatives are available that offer, in many cases, an essentially permanent resolution of student learning and behavioral challenges. This project employed AVE to address the inattention, impulsiveness and behavioral challenges in school-age children, thus reducing the need for medication management of these children and reducing the educational resources that are devoted to responding to their disabilities.

Students selected had a history of learning and reading challenges, impulsiveness, and a propensity to be distracted and to distract others. The students were selected by an ongoing, dynamic evaluation process based upon referrals from classroom teachers, parents, special education staff, and/or other concerned people in the student’s life. Parents were notified about their child’s possible inclusion in the project and they were invited to information sessions conducted by project staff. Parents and teachers completed a behavior rating scale, while the students completed a standardized reading inventory. The majority of the 204 students participating in the NT project were of elementary age.

The AVE device used was the DAVID Paradise XL (manufactured by Comptronic Devices Limited, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada). The eyeglasses for the DAVID Paradise XL are field independent, in that they are able to independently stimulate the individual left and right visual fields of each eye thus producing a different frequency in each hemisphere of the brain. In this project, independent field stimulation was chosen.

At two sites the DAVID Paradise XL was attached to a multi-user amplifier, which enabled up to ten students to receive treatment simultaneously. Each student had his/her own station, which consisted of a set of headphones and an eye set. The students could control both the audio volume and the light intensity. The students preferred brighter intensities, between approximately 400 and 600 lux (full spectrum) measured approximately 0.3 inches from the eye set screen (approximating their average eye distance from the screen).

Students participated in two or three AVE sessions (20-30 minute) per week. Occasionally there were compelling reasons to increase the frequency of sessions, so some students with severe impairments may have had daily sessions. The training is part of the student’s regular curriculum, scheduled around other activities. Training is accomplished using protocols established by the foremost clinicians and researchers in the field, modified to reflect New Visions’ experience working within the school environment. Protocols were occasionally updated to reflect the continuing growth of knowledge in this field.

Data was gathered for a total of 204 students from seven different school districts that participated in the NeuroTechnology Program statewide. The average student completed nearly 30 twenty-minute sessions over a period of three months, and gained eight months in grade-equivalent oral reading scores. Pre- and post-intervention data was obtained using direct assessment and behavior rating scales completed by both parents and teachers. Oral reading proficiency was assessed with the Slosson-R reading test (Figure 1). Behavioral and personality ratings were obtained via the BDS, both the home and school versions.

What is Audio-Visual Entrainment (AVE)?
By flashing lights through an eyeset and pulsing tones through headphones, we can gently guide ourselves into various brainwave states. After a short period of time, the brain begins to resonate at (or mirror) the same frequency as the stimuli. This is called Audio-Visual Entrainment or AVE.

Our brains produce four basic brainwave states: beta, alpha, theta and delta. A healthy brain will produce the appropriate brainwaves for a given situation. For example, when reading, a healthy brain will be producing beta brainwaves. Due to stress, chemical imbalances, genetics, etc, people may produce improper brainwaves for certain activities.

For example people with ADD produce excessive theta brainwaves while reading, instead of beta brainwaves, which are necessary for reading. Because people with ADD suppress beta brainwaves, they need to increase their beta brainwaves, which is why true cases of ADD respond to a stimulant like Ritalin. AVE is an alternative to these dugs. Another example of inappropriate brainwave production is depression. People who are suffering from depression are not making enough alpha brainwaves, which we need for a more balanced and happy life.

Research has shown that AVE is an effective non-drug approach to reduce the symptoms of many disorders that are caused by improper brainwave production. The DAVID is being successfully used by thousands of people for autism, ADD/ADHD, insomnia, chronic pain, post traumatic stress disorder, fibromyalgia, stress management, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), hypertension (high blood pressure), PMS and general well being and relaxation. It also improves self-esteem, cognition (mental agility) and performance in sports and business.

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