Music Therapy for children and adults with speech impairment
Music has been found to be an effective tool for development of language and speech skills, as well as non-verbal communication skills, because it is closely related in human beings to speech and language, both neurologically and developmentally. According to research, musical skills and speech develop in a parallel fashion from adjacent areas of the brain, indicating a parallel neural process for both music and speech production. This parallel in neuro-anatomy underlies the fact that both music and speech are aural forms of communication. Music and speech share the same acoustic and auditory parameters, including frequency, intensity, waveforms and timbre, duration, rate, contour and rhythm.
Music therapy can enable those without language to communicate, participate and express themselves non-verbally. It also assists in the development of verbal communication, speech and language skills. Years of international research on the field has revealed that:
Music is processed in both hemispheres of the brain, it can stimulate cognitive functioning and may be used for remediation of some speech/language skills.
Music provides concrete, multi-sensory stimulation (auditory, visual and tactile). The rhythmic component of music is organising for sensory systems.
Music is perceived and produced in patterns, such as pitch, melodic contour, rhythm and form.
The interpersonal timing and reciprocity in shared play, turn-taking, listening and responding to another person are augmented in music therapy with children to accommodate and address their styles of communication.
Music elements and structures provide a sense of security and familiarity in the music therapy setting, encouraging clients to attempt new tasks within this predictable but malleable framework.
Antiphonal singing with picture cards resulted in a significant improvement in expressive and receptive language in children with autism. A combination of manual signs and singing elicited a significantly higher number of signs and spoken words imitated by children with autism, in comparison to signs and spoken words imitated during a speech only condition.