Helping a Boy with Williams Syndrome: Speech & Music Therapy Collaboration
Speech Therapy and Music Therapy blend together beautifully. Using them in tandem can help children make significant progress!
I got a call a few months ago from a Speech Therapist who was working with a 3 year old boy with Williams Syndrome. He was nonverbal and had frequent meltdowns during speech therapy, making it difficult to work with him and make any real progress. The Speech Therapist felt at a loss of how to help him, until during one session she made a significant discovery.
He loved music.
Like, LOVED music.
She said she couldn’t seem to get anywhere with him unless she brought music into their sessions, but her lack of musical skills was making it difficult to utilize it effectively. She thought he might make some progress if a music therapist was involved, so we agreed to give it a go.
He was working on simple sounds like “ba” and “ma”, was very sensitive to touch, and had a hard time paying attention for more than a few seconds at a time. It seemed that whenever the speech therapist pulled out something to do, he would run in the other direction. He rarely engaged.
Bringing in the Music Therapist
In our first session I brought out the guitar and he was instantly mesmerized. I started playing and singing hello and he excitedly plucked the strings with me, laughed, and looked around at his parents and speech therapist excitedly.
We were on the right track.
As the session continued, the speech therapist brought out several of the activities she typically used to help him make speech sounds. One of these was an Old MacDonald puzzle, and she encouraged him to make the animal sounds with the puzzle piece. To support the activity, I played along singing “Old MacDonald” and put natural space in the song to encourage him to fill in the sound before I continued. Instead of leaving the puzzle, he looked at me intently while I sang, and tried making the sounds during the open space in the music.
We collaborated like this throughout the session, with music motivating and enabling him to pay attention, maintain excitement, and even make the sounds the speech therapist had been working so hard to teach him.
He had no meltdowns, he worked hard, and he was finally engaged during his session.
The speech therapist was thrilled. In fact, she says
“Once I began collaborating with the wonderful therapists from Harmony Music, the client’s vocabulary increased rapidly. The therapists are incredible at tailoring sessions to our client’s needs and interests. It is very evident that Harmony Music therapists love what they do and I recommend collaboration to my fellow speech-language pathologists and to parents as a wonderful treatment option for clients with speech and language needs!”
We have continued with these collaborative speech/music therapy sessions and our client has made remarkable progress over the past several months. Music therapy has made all the difference, and it will continue to be a meaningful catalyst for learning, growth, and achievement in the life of this exceptional young boy.
By the way, we offer a FREE 30 minute consultation where you can ask anything you’d like, get information on what we offer, and even see music therapy in action with your child.
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