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  • Alyssa Wilkins, MT-BC

Music Therapy for Communication Disorders

Updated: Sep 20, 2019

At Dynamic Lynks, one of our specializations is treating communication disorders through music therapy techniques.


Types of Communication Disorders

As of 2013, the DSM 5 categorizes Communication Disorders as Language Disorder, Speech Sound Disorder, Childhood - Onset Fluency Disorder (Stuttering), Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder, and Unspecified Communication Disorder.


Communication Disorders in Children and Adults

At Dynamic Lynks, we use music therapy to produce positive, functional change in speech and language development.

Our therapists have experience working with:

  • Individuals on the Autism Spectrum

  • Social communication disorder

  • Childhood Apraxia of Speech, also known as Apraxia or Dyspraxia

and a variety of other communication needs including speech sound disorders and language disorders.


Treatment of Communication Disorders through Music Therapy

The beauty of music therapy is that a client does not need to use words to participate. Music therapy uses musical interaction as a means of communication and expression. Some people see this as magical, and it truly is, but there’s a whole lot of science behind it.


Music Therapists study how the brain and body work to facilitate speech and use that knowledge to create engaging, original interventions to target a variety of communication needs.


Music and Speech in the Body

Both singing and speech are processed through the same mechanisms in the body.

In order to sing or speak, an individual has to go through:

  • Respiration – breathing

  • Phonation – initiating sound

  • Resonance – how airflow is shaped through the oral and nasal cavities

  • Articulation – using the tongue and teeth to create specific speech sounds

  • Fluency – the ability to produce sounds smoothly and easily

Using a variety of interventions involving singing and instrument play, music therapists are able to strengthen these mechanics to improve overall speech skills.


Music and Speech in the Brain

The brain is where music therapy for communication skill development gets interesting! Most people think that our brain’s left hemisphere is in charge of logic and language while the right hemisphere is in charge of our creative brain. Though this tends to be true, the amazing thing about music is that it activates the entire brain.







Music and the brain

The left side of our brain processes rhythm, allowing music therapists to use drumming and other rhythmic stimulation to help with initiation, articulation, and fluency of speech. The right side of the brain processes melody. For individuals who struggle with communication skills on the left side of the brain, music therapists may be able to use singing and melody to activate a different set of neural pathways to teach speech through the right side of the brain.


How we do this

Music Therapists are trained in a variety of approaches and protocols to work on communication skills. We use these evidence-based practices, in tandem with current scientific research, to create original interventions to target each individual’s area of need.


Some inteventions you might see in music therapy sessions include:

  • Symbolic communication - Using instrument play to simulate communication structures and social interaction patterns

  • Oral/Motor Respiratory Exercises Using instruments to improve speech mechanisms through oral/motor play

  • Rhythmic Speech Cueing - Cueing syllables or words with rhythm, pairing the beat with each speech sound OR Increasing or decreasing rate of speech through rhythmic cues and/or using a metronome

  • Musical Speech Stimulation - Using a musical phrase to cue a speech response at the end of the phrase through neural stimulation

  • Melodic Intonation Therapy - Accessing the right hemisphere’s use of melody and prosody to learn new neural language patterns

  • Vocal Intonation Therapy; Therapeutic Singing - Singing and vocalizing to increase volume of speech, range of vocalization, and strengthen the motor aspects of speech, improving overall fluency

Who benefits

A variety of populations can benefit from music therapy for communication skill development. At Dynamic Lynks, we specialize in childhood speech disorders, but are happy to consult with clients suffering from neurological injury or other disorders affecting their ability to effectively communicate. Our goal is to help everyone access their voice, and be able to use it to express their wants, feelings, and needs!


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