By Allison Tanner, MS, CCC-SLP
The first years of a child’s life involve the achievement of a variety of social and emotional, behavioral, physical, cognitive, and speech and language developmental milestones. Long before children say their first words, they are communicating with us. Successful acquisition of speech and language milestones is necessary for a child’s overall performance in understanding, interacting, and communicating effectively with various individuals in a variety of home, community, and academic settings.
We recognize that children are unique and develop skills at different rates. Children who take longer to learn a speech and/or language skill or a variety of these skills may present with a specific speech and/or language disorder.
Articulation (speech sound) disorders are characterized by delayed, distorted, or limited acquisition of developmental speech sounds and poor speech intelligibility.
Increased sound and word repetitions, difficulty with saying sounds and words, many pauses and/or word interjections during speech, noticeable physical behaviors during speech and avoidance of specific speech words and/or settings could all point to a stuttering disorder in a child.
Children can also present with voice disorders. These are characterized by a hoarse, scratchy, or breathy voice or a voice that sounds nasal, or like they are talking through the nose.
Some children have a hearing loss at birth, while others lose their hearing as they get older. Signs of a hearing loss could include no response to sounds, particularly loud sounds, no response to one’s name being called, not following simple directions or not appearing to understand what is being said, and a history of speech and language delays.
Simple strategies that parents can employ to help encourage speech and language development in children include:
- Talking, reading, and playing with your child.
- Listening and responding to what your child says.
- Talking about what you do and what your child does during the day.
- Using a lot of different words with your child and using longer sentences as your child gets older.
- Having your child play with other children.
- Saying sounds the right way when talking to provide a good speech model for the child.
- Give your child time to talk. Do not interrupt or stop your child while he speaks.
- See a doctor if your child’s voice sounds different and it does not go away after a short time.
- Make sure your child has a newborn hearing screening.
- Take your child to the doctor if they have an ear infection.
- Seek skilled testing and intervention from a licensed speech-language pathologist or audiologist if speech, language and/or hearing disorders are suspected or diagnosed.
As speech-language pathologists and audiologists working with children with various hearing, speech and/or 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 effective evidence-based tools to help children achieve speech and language developmental milestones, in addition to helping children experience success with their communication goals when speech and/ or language, voice or fluency disorders have been identified.
The brain processes the elements of music and language similarly, so the use of the fundamental elements 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.
TLP listeners typically experience speech and language progress with specific speech and/or language skills when a listener is engaged in listening to the psychoacoustically mastered classical music that is targeting the mid-range frequencies (300hz-5000hz) of the music. Continued speech and language skill advancement is also noted as a listener continues the listening progression up into the high frequencies (6000hz-20,000hz).
TLP participants and caregivers report seeing an overall increase in following directions and understanding conversations and questions. More verbal initiation attempts, better speech and voice quality and an overall increase in talking and communication are also observed, including progress with sequencing, and telling a story.
Listeners can also experience advancement with their vocabulary understanding and use, as well as improvements in their overall sentence structure. Better identification of sounds, either auditory only or auditory and visual, along with more interest in the phonics of reading, and improvements with reading and listening comprehension are also recognized.
As a speech-language pathologist and TLP Certified Provider since 2007, working with children with speech, language and/or hearing disorders, I have witnessed the transformative effect that TLP can have on enhancing and improving a child’s speech and language development.
I have also observed that the added element of listening training with a full spectrum of frequencies and with a focus on the low frequencies of the music, that TLP provides, also aids in improved social-emotional, sensory processing, behavior, and stress regulation for a child. Progress in these areas provides more of an opportunity for the child to fully engage and interact within the speech-language therapy process, thus allowing for the child to achieve their specific speech and language goals.
I feel TLP is an effective, evidence-based program that can be used to encourage achievement of speech and language developmental milestones within appropriate times and as an intervention tool in a therapy program for children with diagnosed speech and/or language disorders. TLP has been and continues to be a vital asset to my practice.