How Speech Therapy and Music Therapy Work Together
The combination of speech and music therapy presents a unique opportunity for two specialties to come together and maximize the child’s time in therapy.
Over the years, we have had a great deal of success in collaborating with Speech Therapists in Music Therapy. The Speech Therapist focuses on speech and language development through their unique expertise using a wide range of interventions, while the music therapist strengthens language, communication, and social skills through engaging music interventions. When you consider that some kids will not speak but still like to sing, it makes sense to combine the therapies in order to help kids make significant progress.
Here are just a few of the ways music therapy can make a tremendous difference with speech therapy.
Adding structure and predictability to an intervention through song.
The music therapist can improvise and create songs in the moment that relate directly to what a child is working to achieve. For example, if they are working on a particular speech sound or word, the MT can put it into a song in a way that repeats the word or sound in a fun and anticipatory way. This anticipation, when used effectively, can help cue the neurons in the brain and promote communication.
We have seen so many kids begin to communicate when songs are brought into the mix. It is SO powerful!
Using the power of music to access speech centers in the brain.
Speech centers are found primarily on the left side of the brain, while music is processed in areas all throughout the brain. Music accesses the primary speech areas (such as Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas), while also sharing areas on the right side of the brain (such as those used for singing) which may still be intact for children with speech delay. A music therapist can carefully use music (rhythm and melody) to help access these speech areas and make communication more achievable.
Music provides inherent motivation to communicate and engage.
Music therapists consider themselves very lucky to be the “good guys” in making therapy fun and enticing for children. What better tool to use for play, interaction, and communication than music? The beautiful thing about having a music therapist use this tool is that we are trained in how to use it effectively to create a motivating and positive environment for our clients. This is no easy task! It includes awareness of potential sensory difficulties, knowledge of harmony, form and structure of music (and how to use it to make things exciting and engaging for clients), access to a wide variety of instruments, and understanding how to instruments them to maximize results.
A Music Therapist might bring in a kazoo for vocalization, harmonica for breath control, an accordion for bilateral coordination, or a gathering drum for increased social awareness. When a music therapist uses music effectively, most children show an increased desire and ability to communicate with others around them.
It is truly a beautiful collaboration when the Speech and Music Therapist work together. In fact, you can read a little about one of our clients who experienced such success here: Speech and Music Therapy: Helping a Boy With Williams Syndrome
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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