Helping Speech Through Music

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“Let it go!  Let it go!  Can’t hold it back anymooooore….”

Acting out every one of Elsa’s moves, Declan sang.  Declan who was struggling to put 2 words together, could sing and act out every song from the move “Frozen” when he was 3 years old.

By the time Declan turned 2 years old his language had pretty much disappeared, and on the flip side, I didn’t know if he was able to understand the words I, or others were saying to him anymore.

If Declan were to stop and watch TV, it would be to watch Spongebob.  Spongebob’s humor could be a bit crude, but the show met Declan’s sensory needs with its flashing colors and loud sounds.  Here is a picture of Declan on his second birthday.  As he was running across our kitchen table, I got him to stop and smile for the camera.  How?  I meowed like Gary, Spongebob’s snail.

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At Declan’s 2 year well visit later that day, the Doctor encouraged me to call for an evaluation.  I hadn’t even noticed Declan’s speech had gone.  I was answering grunts.  I was reacting to numerous bizarre behaviors, like running across the kitchen table, to help keep him safe.

Declan was constantly sensory seeking.  Always on the move.  At all hours.  Watching flashy sensory appeasing Spongebob.

For a while, Declan was unable to express his wants and needs.  He was so frustrated.  He was so sad.  Every picture I have of him was one with fear or sadness.

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But he would stop and listen to music. And we found that he was drawn to Disney movies that had songs in them with a pleasing melody.

It all began with the movie “Frozen.”  Declan would not sit and watch the whole movie, but would jump on his mini trampoline and watch the song scenes, over and over again.  As many times as we could rewind them.  To the point he was acting out the scenes of the movie, sounding them, then singing along.

When we realized how much Declan enjoyed watching the music in “Frozen,” we added “Aladdin,” “The Lorax” and “The Jungle Book.”  Not only were these movies helping Declan with his speech, they were providing our constantly on the move sensory seeker one more thing: calmness.

Our experience is not unique.  Ron Suskind also found that he was able to reconnect with  his son who developed autism at 2 1/2 through Disney movies, and wrote about it in a book titled, “Life, Animated.”

Speech Therapists also use songs as tools to relearn speech and to help with speech therapy.  “Row, Row, Row your Boat” was a favorite song of Declan’s when he was 2.  Declan couldn’t sing the whole song, but the song was predictable, the melody was pleasing.  Declan knew how the song went, and if you stopped the song and waited long enough, Declan would eventually sing the next word.  Here are some other favorite songs of Speech Therapists.

Declan can tell me his needs, wants and even feelings now!  It is amazing!  He has a problem with open ended questions.  There are still times I feel he has some problems receiving language.  He can go into his own world and I need his attention.  If I really want him to listen, or hear what I am saying – I usually sing it to him.  That perks his interest right away.

After a year of wonderful support, Declan was using more words.  He enjoyed watching and listening to Disney movies with songs to help his speech as well.  Shortly after his 3rd birthday I took this picture of Declan.  Smiling from his soul, all on his own.  He was happy again…

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photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/130611797@N02/24018105582″>l’amore fraterno tra anna ed elsa in frozen</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>

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4 thoughts on “Helping Speech Through Music

  1. What an amazing story! You’re a good mom. It’s a beautiful thing going on the journey with you to help your son rediscover his speech and smile again. Very well written.

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