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Music Therapy Helps Toddlers to Start Talking

Music Therapy Helps Toddlers to Start Talking

Photo: Child playing the xylophone 

A new study revealed that music therapy can assist in the speech acquisition process in toddlers who have undergone cochlear implantation.

Some infants who are born with impaired hearing and who cannot benefit from hearing aids are likely to gain 90% normal hearing ability by undergoing a cochlear implantation procedure. Following the operation, however, the child – who never heard before – undergoes a long rehabilitation process before he or she can begin to speak.

In a study by Dikla Kerem of the University of Haifa, Kerem examined the particular effects that music therapy has on the potential development of toddlers (aged 2-3 years) who have undergone cochlear implantation, specifically in terms of improving spontaneous communication.

"Music comprises various elements that are also components of language and therefore as a non-verbal form of communication is suitable for communication with these children, when they are still unable to use language. Communicative interactions, especially those initiated by the toddlers, are critical in the development of normal communication, as they are prerequisites for developing and acquiring language," explains Kerem.

She adds that the toddlers undergoing rehabilitation are under much pressure from their surroundings – especially the parents – to begin talking, and sometimes this pressure makes them become introverted. As such, music therapy lends itself to strengthening these children's nonverbal communication and thereby lessens the pressure on them for verbal exchange and response.

The study provided sixteen sessions for children after cochlear implantation. Eight of the sessions included music-related activities (such as games with percussion instruments, vocal games and listening to simple songs) and the rest involved playing with toys/games without musical sounds. Each of the sessions was videotaped and then analyzed.

The results showed that during those sessions when music therapy was implemented, spontaneous communication was markedly more frequent and prolonged in the children. Derived from the results is the fact that the exposure to music needs to be gradual, through the use of music experiences that involve basic musical parameters (such as intensity and rhythm).; Source: University of Haifa

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