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Music, Movement & Language: Improving Communication Skills Through New Methods

When it comes to helping children with speech, language or communication challenges, we use a broad variety of therapies, tools, and tactics to fit individual needs. It has long been known that early language skills are connected to early literacy skills. Discovering and intervening to assist a child with a language, speech, or communication delay or disorder is essential to keeping them on track for success in reading and writing. This connection makes speech therapy a vital service for young children. While you may have known about the literacy and speech connection, did you know there is a strong link between oral communication, movement, and music? 

Teaching Communications Skills Through Movement

At an early level, students can develop strong communication (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) skills with the use of programs such as Sounds in Motion.

Sounds in Motion, “through the use of body movements, the characteristics of tension, duration, pitch and directionality of the articulators that are associated with each speech sound are introduced to help the children experience correct placement and production for specific consonants.” By activating large muscle groups associated with the production of the sound, memory for that sound strengthens.

The program improves general listening skills and helps kindergartners and first-graders gain phonemic awareness skills such as learning the difference between short vowels and consonants that are often confused, auditory memory, verbal absurdities and syllabification, and placement for correct articulation.

 Children learn to recognize that words can be broken down into individual phonemes, sounds can be deleted to form new words, sounds can be blended to make new words, and words can be segmented into constituent sounds. The children also get practice in articulation, syllabification, and written word recognition through rhymes and articulation stories focused on a particular sound.

 The program is effective for all students in literacy but has proven highly effective at diagnosing students who need articulation therapy, and has proven effective with children who have a speech-language impairment. The program has allowed speech-language pathologists to work on articulation stimulation, auditory perception, phonemic awareness, and vocabulary development simultaneously with entire classes – but has proven useful for one-on-one speech therapy services as well.

Improving Communication & Grammar with Music

While Sounds in Motion has been improving literacy and communication in school and speech therapy since the mid-nineties, NPR reports there is a new program in development at the Music Cognition Lab at Vanderbilt University. The director, Reyna Gordon, has published research showing the correlation in children between strong rhythm skills and a good grasp of grammar. Children who can detect the rhythmic variations in music have an easier time putting sentences together properly.

How does this apply to speech therapy students? 

Children with developmental language disorders might have some grammar skills, but expressing complex ideas can be difficult as they progress through school. The team is assessing whether music and rhythm training can assist these students. Using a training program called MILEStone, Music Impacting Language Expertise, the program uses violin lessons and weekly movement classes to further language and grammar skills using music, rhythm, and language together. The team assesses the children before the program in nonverbal IQ, musical rhythm, speech rhythm, grammar, and reading to measure improvements.

 At Child Language and Developmental Speech, we stay at the forefront of all programs and tactics for assisting our speech-therapy patients. While we integrate a large variety of tools and methods, we always look forward to new cutting edge ideas, as every student responds to each speech therapy method differently. These variations in methods allow us to customize your child’s speech therapy program to help him or her in the way that works best. Call or contact us today to learn more about speech therapy for your child. 704-845-0561.