Rhythm & Language Restoration/Acquisition

September 11, 2015

According to NPR more than 150,000 Americans are left speechless each year due to stroke. Language is a vital tool for communication and personal expression. Yet many people due to stroke, or autism face significant challenges with this essential communication tool - Speech. 

 

Music therapists and others have been using singing therapy for many decades, but it has grown in popularity recently due to the publicity it has gained as a result of the tragic shooting that resulted in the loss of precious lives, and injuries that include a bullet damaging the language center of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' brain.  Music therapy has been used to help create new neural pathways for language around the damaged part of her brain.  

 

According to an article on the NPR website, when using singing as a therapy to help restore speech, "the right part of the brain used in singing that's being retrained to "speak" – is good at melody and pitch, but it's not as fast as the left-sided language center, called Broca's area. It's also not as good at the rhythmic components of speech." That's why therapists will sometimes use tapping on the left hand (controlled by the right side) to entrain the rhythms of speech and engage the motor nerves needed to produce speech in the mouth and throat.

 

I was shocked recently when a teacher in our area told me about a student with autism, exhibiting limited language vocalization skill, who was suddenly able to recite his ABC's after drumming. Though these results are not typical, it is encouraging. 

 

In this newly released activity called Play & Sing, George Thompson & Terri Wiener, MT-BC demonstrate one strategy for using singing and playing to develop social, listening & rhythm skills for people with developmental disabilities and autism. Find this lesson and more at: www.thecomfortsound.com

 

Reference:

NPR - Singing Therapy Helps Stroke Patients Speak Again

 

 

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