The Power of Music
Speech Strategies is making the best of these last few weeks of winter by using sensory toys to keep our clients motivated while we are stuck inside. One of our favorite sensory toys are seasonal sensory boxes. You can add whatever you like inside the box to stimulate conversation about any topic you choose. For example, you can add items of different colors and textures into a box of popcorn kernels to work on adjectives. You can add small items into a sensory box of rice to play "I Spy" related to various themes or to elicit specific target sounds. The possibilities are endless! The activities are motivating because the design is constantly changing. Putting your hands in the box with various textures can be quite relaxing for both children and adults alike!
A few families this week have asked me for suggestions related to foods that can be used to provide oral motor stimulation. The Speech Strategy of using foods that require work to chew to provide stimulation to the mouth in hopes of discouraging the mouthing of non-food items. Some of the more popular and successful choices have been pretzel rods, baby carrots, celery, and Twizzlers. You might also try putting the food to one side of the mouth and asking the child to hold it in place while you gently try to pull it out of their mouth. The goal is to keep the interaction fun. If the task becomes too difficult, then just take a snack break. We hope these ideas help get you through the last weeks of winter. Enjoy!
I was trying to think of something this morning that is universal among all of my therapy sessions, no matter the age of the client. I wanted to write about something that makes people feel better and encourages them to participate in sessions no matter how they are feeling. I realized that the one thing that I can count on in any therapy session is the healing power of music. Personally, when I need a little motivation, I turn up the tunes that bring back happy memories. The same is true for all of our patients.
When working with younger children, music can be a powerful therapy tool because it encourages verbal interaction. One of my favorite Speech Strategies is to sing a familiar song to a child and then pause for the final word in the phrase to encourage verbal participation. If the child wants the song to continue, they will try to sing along. The child's verbalization doesn't need to be perfect. It just needs to be an attempt in order for the song to continue. Singing together tends to remove the pressure from vocalizing since the child is not verbalizing alone and the music is in the background to support their efforts. The listener hears the song and their verbal attempts, rather than primarily the child's voice.
Music is also a way to encourage language development. By using familiar children's songs, children can learn the meanings of words. By pairing a movement with the words, children learn the meaning. They also learn to imitate your actions and to anticipate events. But even more importantly, everyone involved in the interaction has fun and that is what serves to make communication a rewarding experience that a child will want to continue doing.