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5 starsFIVE STARS! ForeWord Clarion Reviewbook

AUTOBIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR
Awakening Ashley: Mozart Knocks Autism on Its Ear
Sharon Ruben iUniverse, Inc. 978-0-5953-0780-7
"I can remember the frustration of not being able to talk. I knew what I wanted to say, but I could not get the words out, so I would just scream."-Temple Grandin

Dr. Temple Grandin, a PHD in animal science and named in TIME Magazine's 2010 list of the100 most influential people in the world was diagnosed as being autistic as a toddler. Experts at the time of her diagnoses suggested that she be institutionalized. Her mother refused their advice and pursued other avenues of education, including creating her own school. Grandin is a world famous spokesperson for people with autism and a role model to legions of people with and without developmental disabilities.

Sharon Ruben, author and mother of an autistic daughter named Ashley, attended a Grandin conference in 2002 to seek answers about her daughter's disability. She writes, "Having been told by specialists that one day Ashley may be a "Temple Grandin" fueled me to learn all I could about what Ashley could become through this famous person—Ashley already had visual gifts….I read she [Grandin] thinks in terms of pictures, a video recorder constantly playing in her mind. She struggled with socializing and reading people's emotions and lacked understanding of human relationships."

Like any parent who receives such detrimental news about the health and welfare of their child, the author had to go through a kind of grief process that included stages of denial and anger. Luckily, an "acceptance" that Ashley's disability was irreversible was not part of that process. Instead, she approached autism as a problem with a solution. She researched online and read hundreds of books on neurology, autism and other developmental disabilities. She had consultations with a variety of doctors and specialists and sought out alternate forms of treatments, like testing Ashley for food allergies and exploring a gluten and casein free diet. More importantly, she found the Tomatis Method, a treatment that retrains the ear muscles to listen better and increase the brain's comprehension of its surroundings by exposing the patient to high frequency music such as Mozart. After the first "loop" of Tomatis, Ashley began showing signs of vast improvement and miraculous results.

Ruben writes, "…Ashley had more energy…she now sang songs instead of merely humming them. Her social play was blossoming…she had more awareness of her surroundings…she was interacting with all of us so much more and was really awakening and coming alive!"
Awakening Ashley is a life-changing book not only for parents with children with disabilities but also an inspiration for all parents. The author's writing is easily accessible and informative. She gives the reader the full account of her ordeal. Not holding anything back, she isn't afraid to show the reader her own faults, vulnerabilities and fears which all parents experience but are afraid to admit. Within this gem of hope, Ruben includes an appendix of the books, specialists, and websites which assisted her during a very humane journey of heartache, perseverance, celebration, and triumph of awakening her daughter to a fulfilling life.
Lee Gooden

5 starsFIVE STARS!The review of Awakening Ashley book tells it all!
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik Into the Light, July 6, 2007
By BeatleBangs1964

This review is from: Awakening Ashley: Mozart Knocks Autism On its Ear (Paperback)
Ashley Ruben, the second of 3 daughters was born in 1999. Ashley displayed autistic behaviors from early infancy. She was placid; had low muscle tone; liked only crunchy foods and had difficulty sucking. She had poor oral coordination and literally had trouble understanding what she was hearing. She also suffered from several ear infections as an infant.

Ashley was diagnosed with autism shortly before she turned two. After some disastrous efforts at doing lab work to screen out the possibility of Fragile X Syndrome, Ashley was placed on a rigorous intervention program. Many of the therapies Ashley underwent included a casein/gluten free regimen, which "repaired" her leaky gut; one on one training and Auditory Integration Therapy (AIT) - Tomatis method.

The Tomatis AIT is much more rigorous and takes more time than the AIT program developed by Dr. Berard, who successfully treated Georgiana Thomas in 1976. (Georgiana Thomas' mother, Annabelle Stehli writes of Georgiana's recovery from autism using AIT - Berard and on her web site describes both the Berard and Tomatis methods).

In Ashley's case, the Tomatis approach was to strap earphones to her head and have her "retrain" her inner ears so she could, according to the theory learn to listen and make auditory distinctions. Mozart was played to her because the high frequencies in Mozart's music was "tonally closest to the human voice" and the high frequencies are the sounds people hear in utero, when the brain and audition are developing.

The method is described in detail in this book and readers will soar along on falcon's wings at Ashley's spectacular progress. This is one of the best books I have EVER read. The Tomatis method was plainly a success; Ashley is currently enrolled in classes for the gifted and is a proficient guitarist. Let's hope she plays Beatle songs.

Sharon Ruben, herself a scientist has done scientific research on the Tomatis method and has shared brilliant insights with readers in this remarkable book. She has appeared on SoapNet in 2004 with Ashley; on the Today Show on 5/3/03 and Ashley's story was first introduced to readers at large in the April 2006 "Exceptional Parent Magazine" and the June 2006 issue of "Spectrum Magazine." She has also started a web site with therapeutic teaching tools for children on the spectrum.

The biggest reward of all was seeing and hearing Ashley on these shows. A bright, beautiful and engaging child, Ashley has proven that autism really can be knocked out on its ear! The victory makes me think of Ray Charles' 1961 smash, "Hit the Road, Jack" and in the case of autism "and don't you come back no more, no more, no more, no more, hit the road, Jack and don't you come back no more!" It also makes me think of George Harrison's 1969 stellar gem, "Here Comes the Sun," the lyrics of which I think are very a propos.
link to above article on Amazon.com


Thank You for being honest about a subject that most people try to pretend doesn't involve them. So Little help for so many,but any thing that helps our children to be able to interact on any level with other people has got to be a good thing. I have a nine year old son who is autistic and a four year old son who has more than a few speech problems, waiting list here for any services for the youngest one is at least 10 months and tomatis is only affordable for one of the boys at this stage, so we have decided that we need to focus on the older one first and use other home based things for the younger one for the moment.
Tanya Elder
Perth, W.A. Australia - Saturday, March 25, 2006 at 10:59:17 (CST)
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Your book was wonderful and such an inspiration. I had never heard of the Tomatis Method until your book. My son is 3 yrs 11 months old and was diagnosed at 2 yrs and has been on the GFCF now SF diet for about a year and is in a Early Intensive Behaviorial Treatment with 40 hrs a week just a yr now and he has come a long way within that year. Although there just seems to be something that he is not getting that he needs and the Tomatis Method really sounds like a great fit for him. I'm looking into that now. I don't now how to work it in with his current therapy program since that is already so demanding of time but I will find a way. Congratulations on the great dedication, devotion and advocacy with Ashley. I'm still feeling very overwhelmed with this but I look up to you and I am trying to be strong for my son Ryan and my family. Thank you for being my inspiration.
Wendy Zimmer
Manteca, CA USA - Wednesday, February 08, 2006 at 20:53:17 (CST)
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Dear Sharon, I'm an undergrad at St. Mary's College working in studio art on autism awareness. I saw your appearance with Katie Couric and would love to hear from you regarding my work. Is it possible for us to talk? Thank you so much for sharing your story with us and I hope to hear from you soon -Natasha
Natasha Bailey
St. Mary's City, md USA - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 at 11:54:16 (CST)
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Excellent book. I wasn't aware that people with autism could be 'awakened' until this book. I recommend this book to many people so that hopefully it will help answer some of their questions and help their children come back to them.
Connie <suebaroo@yahoo.com>
Burke, VA USA - Thursday, July 14, 2005 at 22:20:08 (CDT)
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I haven't read the book about Ashley but i'm 100% about the amazing changes that occured after her treatement with the Tomatis Methode. I am myself a Listening Fitness Trainor, using the Tomatis Methode in Haiti, and the results are amazing. Keep on passing the word, it's the best way to make people aware that hope is at hand.
Melissa Coupaud
Port-au-Prince, Haiti - Friday, April 29, 2005 at 15:02:46 (CDT)
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I´m very touched! It´s a beautifull story. I work at a Tomatiscenter in Stockholm Sweden, and I`ve seen a lot off children, teenagers and adults being helped by this method. I wonder if there i a place in California were you can do the tomatistraining?
Marie Ambrossi
Stockholm, Sweden - Thursday, November 04, 2004 at 11:05:52 (CST)
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I am a student @ New England Tech. I am doing research on how music can be used as an intervention. I think that this is an amazing story and I believe that it will be benificial to many OT practitioners, music therapists and anyone who is as fascinated with this research as I am. I only wish that there were more OTs out there that would use this durring thier treatment and write about it. If you know of any, tell them to contact me. This is great and I hope that Ashley is doing well.
Sarah Cashmon
Wakefield, R.I USA - Sunday, October 24, 2004 at 21:34:33 (CDT)
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Most of you may not know this, but I am Sharon's nephew. I know how hard this has been for her and her family. I would just like to say that she has handled this with supreme patience. I just want to say that I love her, her daughters, and her husband very much. Nathan Thomson
Nathan Thomson
Richmond, Va USA - Sunday, October 24, 2004 at 16:03:32 (CDT)
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Sharon, Your parents are dear friends of mine from the days I worked with them when they lived and served as board members at the Gulf Harbors Woodlands. I was sad to see them go, but I understood their desire to be close to you, David and the girls. You have done a phenomenal job and I am sure you are a hero to many families who are frightened for themselves and their child. Sincerely, Adrienne Kinsella.
Adrienne Kinsella
New Port Richey, FL USA - Tuesday, June 08, 2004 at 08:40:38 (CDT)
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Thank you, Thank you! After seeing your story on the Today Show, I started making phone calls and was even willing to travel to The Spectrum Center. Fortunately, we found Tomatis in Seattle(a 90 mile drive from here.) Long story, short...my son just completed his 3rd "round" and is a completely different child than he was 8 months ago. He was diagnosed with autism. Just like Ashley, he's now a very friendly,imaginative child. P.S. We're still gfcf, soy-free. I'm anxious to read your book. Hopefully, I'll find out what made you decide to take Ashley off of the diet! :-) Blake's Mom We are ever so grateful that you shared your story.
Kristin Cerenzia
Bellingham, Wa USA - Tuesday, May 11, 2004 at 23:14:10 (CDT)
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thank you for responding to my letter and know that i know there is hope for my son matthew he is changing everyday he is reading and writing and telling time. thanks jody allen
Jody allen
siouxfall, sd USA - Wednesday, May 05, 2004 at 22:41:00 (CDT)
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Thank you for the email. My son is now 5 years old and I've exhausted my patience with his doctor so I've changed doctors thinking I would get an exact diagnosis, I've run into another brick wall. What did you tell your doctor? I've told my son's doctor and he just increased his medicine. When my son takes his meds, he cannot stay awake. I'm running out of patience and I still blame myself for this "condition" my son shows. People tell me I did nothing wrong, but that doesn't help my son. If you can help, please do.
AmandaRB
Lacassine, LA USA - Wednesday, May 05, 2004 at 13:14:10 (CDT)
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Thanks,for sharing the amazing recovery of your daughter.Thank you also for wanting to help with my two boys. Now 4 and 3 yrs. old. Both of my boys diagnosed two years ago. And never got to try the Tomatis method but always wanted. We also had something that worked for us: The GF/CF diet. My 3yr. old was just removed from his original diagnose last February! We are so happy and thank God every day. His older brother had also advanced rapidly and is a very social little boy but he still has more work to do on the clarity of his speech and some other areas that need polishing. Overall he's doing very well and we have similar hopes that he will overcome the challenge and be independent. Probably we'll do Tomatis too. We now enjoy trips to the aquarium,zoo, parks,stores, parties, and both are very outspoken and a joy to be around. I find my self often smillyng again when a year ago that wasn't possible. I can imagine how wonderfull is for you to see your daughter recovered and be part of your life and the people that loves her.Congratulations, Rosa A.
Rosa
Pleasant Hill, CA USA - Wednesday, May 05, 2004 at 04:13:51 (CDT)
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Hi Sharon, your website is amazing. I watched the report on the Today Show and it brought tears to my eyes. To this day I can remember Ashley's very first visit to the Spectrum Center. She has come so far and you have been an amazing advocate for Ashley and for other parents dealing with a child with Autism. I would love to hear how you and your family are doing. I still have the picture of Ashley and I, it is framed in my home office. Say hello to Ashley for me, from Miss Kathy.Your friend from the Spectrum Center,Kathy Gercke-Chumas (former listening therapist)
Kathy Gercke-Chumas <kathryngercke@aol.com>
USA - Saturday, May 01, 2004 at 13:14:34 (CDT)
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How can I get in contact with others that have used the Tomatis method?
Tracy Costa
Boston, MA USA - Friday, April 02, 2004 at 05:11:21 (CST)
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Sharon,Since there are such long integration breaks with Tomatis, I'd really like to know just how many hours of actual Tomatis Ashley did within that "over a year" time period? Also, did she follow up with any Samonas listening therapy after the Tomatis ended or does she do any Tomatis booster sessions now?I'd like to thank you for having your daughter's story told on the Today Show as that is what inspired me to have my daughter Sarah (age 4) do Tomatis. So far she has done110 hours of Tomatis total. She has had some amazing break throughs and we are hopeful for more in the coming months. We did a 90 hour Tomatis program from July to November last year and just completed a 20 hour booster session in January. We are doing Samonas now that our Tomatis is over, although we may do another Tomatis booster depending on how she is doing. If you could answer my question on the number of hours Ashley did, I'd really appreciate it. Thank you.
Jill (Sarah's Mom)
Orange County, CA USA - Friday, February 20, 2004 at 22:16:43 (CST)
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My son Cody shared some classes with your daughter. I am glad to hear she has done so terrific. Just wanted to say hi, we were the people from LI, New York, Best Wishes.
Alice DiBlasi
Kings Park, NY USA - Thursday, February 05, 2004 at 20:33:17 (CST)
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MY SISTER HAS TWO SETS OF TWINS,MY NIECE GIANNA IS FROM THE OLDER SET, GIANNA IS NINE YEARS OLD. WE SAW THE STORY ON THE TODAY SHOW AND DID WHAT WE COULD TO RAISE THE LARGE SUM OF MONEY TO SEND GIANNA TO THE SPECTUM CENTER. AS I AM WRITING YOU GIANNA IS THERE WITH MY SISTER AND MOTHER AND I AM HOME WITH THE OTHER THREE WHO ARE VERY EXCITED KNOWING GIANNA MIGHT BE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE. THE OTHER NIGHT ON THE PHONE GIANNA REPEATED AFTER HER MOTHER "I MISS YOU", I CAN'T DESCRIBE THE FEELING . ALTHOUGH THIS MIGHT NOT BE A CURE ALL IT IS GREAT TO HAVE PEOPLE DIRECTING YOU AND HELPING YOU TO UNDERSTAND, THE SAD TRUTH IS THAT MY SISTER IS A DIVORCED PARENT OF FOUR CHILDREN AND WORKS AS A TEACHER FULL TIME, AND FOR SOME REASON INSURANCE WON'T PAY FOR THIS THERAPY. IT SADDENS ME TO THINK THAT SOMETHING IS OUT THERE TO HELP AND MOST PEOPLE CANT AFFORD THIS. HOW CAN WE CHANGE THIS?
AUNT HOLLY
YOUNGSTOWN, OH USA - Friday, January 30, 2004 at 10:18:31 (CST)
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This site has given me some hope! Thank you for sharing your story.
Marty Runkle
Plymouth, OH USA - Tuesday, January 13, 2004 at 08:13:25 (CST)
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I am a music therapist very interested in the Tomatis approach. Where can I get more information?
Shannon Brown
Rochester, NY USA - Thursday, January 08, 2004 at 14:34:07 (CST)
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Very interesting. We have a patient who was looking in to the Spectrum Center and so we logged on to see what it was all about.
Woodlawn Developmental Pediatrics
Marietta, GA USA - Monday, December 22, 2003 at 09:19:53 (CST)
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Nice Web Site. We will link to you shortly. Keep up the good work and thanks for everything.
Bill Kennick
Bethesda , MD USA - Wednesday, November 12, 2003 at 20:46:32 (CST)
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Your site is incredible. Thank you for your information.
Mary Smith
Great Falls, VA USA - Tuesday, November 04, 2003 at 08:24:44 (CST)