New Therapy Helps Nonverbal Children With Autism to Say First Words
Auditory Motor-Mapping Training
The AMMT treatment uses a combination of singing (intonation) and motor activities to strengthen a network of brain regions that is thought to be abnormal in children with autism. “We developed AMMT, in part, because another intonation-based therapy, known as Melodic Intonation Therapy, had been successful in helping stroke patients with aphasia recover their ability to speak,” adds senior author Gottfried Schlaug, MD, PhD, Director of the Music and Neuroimaging Laboratory at BIDMC and Associate Professor of Neurology at HMS.
After eight weeks of AMMT treatment (five days per week), the six children in the proof-of-concept study -- who ranged in age from six to nine and were previously completely nonverbal -- were able to approximate whole words and phrases. The children could also generalize their speech production to words that were not practiced during the therapy. “Noticeable improvements in speech were seen as early as two weeks into the treatment,” explains Wan. “More importantly, the improvements lasted as long as two months after the treatment sessions ended...
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