Vestibular Development by Valerie Dejean
Sveti Saint Tomaz
Vestibular Development

New Revised articles written by Valerie Dejean (Click Here)

1-877 DEJEAN1

Tomatis, Sensory Integration, Developmental Model basis for Alzheimers, Aspergers and Autism

Vestibular Re-Integration
Alzheimer's can be seen as development in reverse. First the higher functions such as judgment go, then the lower functions. Vestibular Re-integration stimulation operates on the premise that if you dont use it, you will lose it. If you aren't growing, you are dying. One practical way to prevent the regression of Alzheimer's is through vestibular stimulation. Valerie Dejean combines the  Tomatis Method  with Vestibular Re-integration to restore praxis for persons who are challenged with a declining ability in the higher functions.

.......Tomatis Topics

T his article addresses Alzheimer's dementia from a developmental model. We view both the difficulties that persons experience as well as the progress we observe through a developmental model. A developmental model pre-supposes that growth from infancy (and even before) to adulthood follows certain predictable stages. In Alzheimer's, the regression follows the same stages, but in reverse.

Alzheimer's is a developmental disorder and it impacts so many of the abilities that are unique to us a human beings. It can impact our physical health. Sensory and motor disturbances are often a hallmark of Alzheimer's. It can impact our communications skills with both receptive and expressive language skills often regressed or unusual in their style. It can impact social interactions, with social isolation and difficulty understanding social cues often the case. The ability to work creatively and develop self-sufficient leisure activities is also affected.

A developmental model is a bottom up approach to intervention. It works on the foundations; not the out come skills. In sensory-based intervention we assume that those foundations are of neurological organizational. They cannot be taught; rather they are potentials that can be elicited. This neurological capacity is called praxis and it is the foundation for all imitative and later original action. When praxis fails, we call it Apraxia or Dyspraxia. We can treat apraxia or Dyspraxia with the Tomatis method and the Spectrum Center Method of Vestibular Re-Integration.

Praxis is critical to understanding changes or improvement in a person with Alzheimer's. 

T he theories of Dr. Tomatis and observations of theory in practice provided me with a better foundation for understanding of the link between praxis, communication, and language than just Sensory Integration theory alone.

Ayres in her research found a relationship between improved vestibular functioning and language. She found improvement in auditory processing as well as a link between depressed nystagmus and expressive language. When one improved so did the other. She felt that the therapeutic use of sensory integrative procedures could have their greatest effect on language test scores. She largely spoke of the vestibular and auditory systems as separate however.

I remember in a course 1978 that Josephine Moore gave about the vestibular system that the vestibular and auditory system, though separated for teaching purposes were really one system 'the vestibular cochlea system' and it was important that we think of them that way. Dr. Tomatis most certainly considers them as one.

This in my mind is where Tomatis added a great deal. Tomatis saw them much more as one system, the vestibular/cochlear system, and that sound influenced both the vestibule portion as well as the cochlear.


T omatis sees the ear as an integrator. He saw the vestibular (balancing) and Cochlear (decoding of sound) functions of the ear joined in a single system. The vestibule analyzes larger movements, those within the body, and the cochlea evolved as an addition to analyze smaller acoustical type movements.

Anatomically he describes three systems of integration.

Firstly the vestibular integrator acts to integrate all the muscles of the body, noting that all muscles depend on the vestibule for their tone. Secondly was the visual integrator where the eye references through the ear. Thirdly the cochlear or linguistic integrator which interprets sounds and allows for language to develop. We listen with our whole bodies

And lastly it is impossible to talk of the Vestibular system separately from the Cerebellum. When Dr. Tomatis talk of the vestibular system he is universally talking of the projections to the cerebellum, especially the archeo-cerebellum.


S ound as an entry into the Nervous System Ayres used movement as her portal into the nervous system while Tomatis used sound. My observations are that I did a lot of sensory integration before becoming trained in the Tomatis method, but I never saw the extent of the impact on language that I see with the addition of sound stimulation. So with the addition of sound I felt that I was better able to affect the cochlear integrator.

On the other hand I see changes in postural functions with the use of sound that I could not get with movement-based approaches alone. And that was very interesting to me. I particularly saw changes in the area of muscle tone - the posture really improved.

Mostly I saw changes in what I have been referring to as the symbolic functions, in the area of non-verbal communication. This is what I call Communicative Praxis.Theoretically I find the Tomatis method very consistent with what I was already doing, I just felt that it added a piece or added a dimension. And I especially feel that the combination of the two is particularly powerful.

I really feel that with the Tomatis Method I am as much influencing the vestibular system as the cochlear and I expect to see changes in both functions.'The nervous system grew out of the ear.'


W hile Ayres came to the vestibular system through her study of learning disabilities and reading related visual spatial disorders. Tomatis came to the vestibular system from his desire to understand the processes of communication. He found the vestibular system when looking for the first phylogenetic organ of communication.

He saw the vestibular system as the first system of communication phylogentically. The primitive vestibular system and its relationship to gravity, was the first relating from inner life to outer life.

Jean Ayres in her description of the primacy of the vestibular system in the evolution and development of the human nervous system put it this way:

' The child's relationship to gravity is more primal than their relationship to mother'

Loretta Bender said in 1956 that 'The vestibular system enabled the developing organism to distinguish between self and non-self' This is important to the Tomatis concept of communication. We need a self and a non-self in order to have an interaction. I can see this distinction start to evolve in the autistic children as the respond to therapy. Prior to that their relationship is primarily symbiotic. The body schema improves along with the motor planning, and they start to have more of a sense of mastery and autonomy. They see themselves as separate.


T he vestibular system is anatomically joined with cochlear system, and the systems lie closely together throughout the nervous system. This allows for many close neuronal associations with auditory processing and language. Decreased vestibular processing can impact on the area of speech and language development, particularly auditory processing. Research has found that therapy to improve the function of the vestibular system can also result in improved language development.

Auditory processing disorders are often related to disorders in processing within the vestibular system. In actuality, auditory perception is dependent on good interaction between the vestibular - cochlear apparatus, which then sends sensory information up to the higher processing center of the brain. When there is inadequate sensory information from the vestibular cochlear system it is more difficult to develop appropriate auditory processing. To develop normal receptive the foundation of normal sensory input from the vestibular - cochlea system is important.

The auditory system needs a stable base provided by the vestibular sy stem in order to process information. In order to de velop language it is necessary to process complex information through the auditory sy stem. The auditory system is required to separate the speech stream into meaningful single units of auditory objects. Much as the visual system, which has to reference what it sees through the vestibular system, the auditory system also must perform a similar reference. Without the stability from the vestibular system, it is difficult for the auditory system to accurately interpret the sound stream well.

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