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Speech and language are two words most people use interchangeably and are common occurrences for people of all ages. When it comes to finding the proper support for a person with speech or language delay, it’s essential to know the difference between the two and how the unlikely medium of the ears can be used to improve either.
Speech refers to the sound of spoken language. It’s the practice of oral communication. Speech involves using the tongue, lips, jaw, and voice muscles to produce the sounds that constitute language.
A speech delay or speech disorder usually indicates that someone has trouble producing certain sounds accurately.
Young children learning to speak will probably substitute, leave out, or distort normal speech sounds. For example, it’s not unusual for 3-year-olds to use the “f” sound for “th” in their speech: “I’m firsty (thirsty).” But that pronunciation would be considered an articulation error in a 5-year-old, classified as a speech delay.
Stuttering is also considered a speech delay and can develop into adulthood. Stuttering is common among young children as a regular part of speech development. Young children may stutter when their speech and language abilities aren’t developed enough to keep up with what they want to say, meaning their brains are working faster than the muscles in their mouth. Most children outgrow this developmental stuttering. However, stuttering is a chronic condition that persists into adulthood. This type of stuttering can impact self-esteem and interactions with other people.
No matter the cause or the age of the person facing a speech delay, music can help.
Language refers to a system of words and symbols- written, spoken, or expressed with gestures and body language- that is used to communicate meaning.
Language delays have to do with the difficulty of using or understanding spoken language. Within the umbrella of language delays, there are three different kinds:
Frequently, language disorders are developmental. They start in early childhood and continue into adulthood. Brain injury or illness can also cause language delays in people of all ages. This means that speech and language delays or difficulties can affect people at any time or stage in life. Fortunately, modern research has shown that significant improvements can be made by using an unlikely medium- the ears.
A Speech and Language Pathologist is a typical person to seek help to address speech or language delays.
Allison Tanner, MS, CCC-SLP explains, “As speech-language pathologists and audiologists working with children with various hearing, speech, and language disorders, there are many evidence-based programs, tools, strategies, and approaches that we apply to our practices to maximize the success of our clients with their communication and hearing goals.”
Use of The Listening Program® (TLP) can be one of these practical, evidence-based tools to help children achieve speech and language developmental milestones, in addition to assisting children in experiencing success with their communication goals when speech and language, voice, or fluency disorders have been identified.
The Listening Program uses psychoacoustically modified music to address speech and language delays. To better understand this method, we first look to the research of Alfred A. Tomatis, MD, a French Ear, Nose, and Throat physician.
Tomatis’s work influenced a vital understanding of the human auditory system on an individual’s mind, body, and spirit. His work also led to the discovery of the role of listening to music with different ranges of sound to support speech and language development, among other needs.
The voice can only produce what the ear can hear. If a sound returns to the ear, it is immediately regained in the voice. And, if the ear is re-trained for a minimal amount of time, the changes are long-lasting.
– Dr. Alfred Tomatis
Essentially, Dr. Tomatis found that a person can improve their speech and language abilities by using the ears and the ability to hear. How does that happen?
In this blog post, by Allison Tanner, she explains that the brain processes the elements of music and language similarly. The use of the fundamental aspects of sound and music, such as frequency, volume, time, and space, presented at the right frequency, intensity, and duration can be of benefit in helping to foster and improve one’s overall speech and language abilities.
Through consistent use of TLP, listeners typically experience speech and language progress with specific speech and language skills during the mid-range frequencies (300hz-5000hz) of The Listening Program. Continued speech and language skill advancement are also noted as a listener continues the listening progression up into the high frequencies (6000hz-20,000hz).”
In other words, the brain processes music and speech in the same areas. With that in mind, The Listening Program was created to gently stimulate the speech center of the brain, creating new neural pathways through neuroplasticity. This process leads to improved speech and language for people of all ages.
Looking back to the research by Dr. Tomatis, if the ears are not hearing or noticing certain pitches or frequencies, a person may not be able to reproduce them with their mouths. To support those findings, further research has found (Sun et al., 2017) that “accurate pitch discrimination is critical to phonological processing,” which is our ability to listen to and manipulate the units of sound that comprise letters and words.
With that in mind, it’s clear that” the brain needs to develop the ability to process frequency, whether produced by an instrument or through speech – the fundamentals are the same.” – Auditory processing. By using good music that is gentle and scientifically created to nurture the brain through identifying different pitches and frequencies, speech can improve.
“There’s no doubt about the close relationship between music and spoken language. Because they share several elements- rhythm, melody, and pitch- the brain processes music and speech in similar ways. Many areas in the brain that respond to music are also crucial in our use and understanding of languages- such as Broca’s area, which deals with both musical sight-reading and with language processing and organization.” – Healing at the Speed of Sound
To be able to speak fluidly requires logic, organization, and confidence. TLP provides through the ABC modular design of each program which begins with gentle music that calms the mind, allowing other portions of the brain to be trained during the middle part of the program, then returning to a peaceful listening state. It’s like an exercise program for the brain, targeting the language center to improve overall language abilities.
This unique design engages adaptive neuroplasticity in the neural networks that process acoustic features in music and speech. The music is accessible and easy to process; it has a form and structure that the brain recognizes and emphasizes the human voice frequencies.
Because of this unique ABC Modular design, listeners can experience a marked language improvement, including:
The focused sound frequency stimulation inside TLP rewires the brain with beautiful relaxing music and numerous neuro acoustic modifications, including spatial training that improves communication and social connections that can last a lifetime.
“As a speech-language pathologist and TLP Certified Provider since 2007, working with children with speech, language, and hearing disorders, I have witnessed the transformative effect that TLP can have on enhancing and improving a child’s speech and language development.” Allison Tanner
Use of The Listening Program can be one of many practical, evidence-based tools to help children achieve speech and language developmental milestones, in addition to assisting children in experiencing success with their communication goals when speech and language, voice, or fluency disorders have been identified. TLP works well as a stand-alone music listening therapy or in conjunction with other evidence-based tools used by an SLP.
In this video, Sally Bober, a pioneer of the Speech-Language Pathologist community, shares a story of a non-verbal child on the autism spectrum.
Jane Shook, a Speech-Language Pathologist, who uses TLP in her practice regularly, said, “I am so grateful to have had The Listening Program to use in my speech therapy practice since 2000. It activates the mirror neurons in the brain resulting in improved speech and connects cause and effect relationships and pragmatic social communication. TLP helps to form the inner language of picturing what others are saying. My clients use TLP at home to deepen the results of sound discrimination, self-regulation, sequencing, timing, and improved speech production and comprehension.“
Whether using TLP at home or with a therapist, it is a research-based practice to improve speech and language deficits for people of all ages with various delays. The gentle and beautiful music stimulates the brain by utilizing the ears, allowing the mouth to form and deliver the words that are more clearly processed in the mind. This process is one many listeners have enjoyed in their lives in just 15 minutes a day with TLP.
Tags auditory processing, Language Delay, Selective Mutism, Speech and Language Delay, Speech Delays, speech therapy, Stuttering, The Listening Program, Therapeutic Music, Verbal Apraxia
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