7 Signs That Demonstrate Speech Is Possible 7 Signs That Demonstrate Speech Is Possible | Back Mountain Music Therapy

7 Signs That Demonstrate Speech Is Possible


Toddler Talking


I recently worked with a couple of non-verbal autistic boys who were having wonderful sessions. The very next day I ran across an article online by Margaret A Fish, MS,CCC-SLP. The article was entitled Development In Children With Severe Childhood Apraxia Of Speech – www.pediastaff.com. Later that day, a mother of a Downs Syndrome son (who had speech but had lost it) asked the question many parents ask, “Is it too late, will he ever speak again?” I knew it was possible by a couple of things she told me. I thought I would share some things I hear that let me know not only is speech possible in children with neurological impairment, but lets me know where the child is developmentally with speech.

* One of the things the mother told me was, when her son is alone , one on one, and comfortable, he can sing words. If a child can sing words, he or she is already speaking in melody. Speech ability already exists and the person is not far from speaking.

* If purposeful humming is demonstrated, that means the child has enough control to not only comprehend what they hear, but also are able to replicate it vocally.

* Children that have occasional “pop out words,” once again, understand and apparently do have some speech. They need to learn how to get control of that speech.

* Children that babble are on their way to sound formation and are open to making sound and are motivated. They are “playing” with sound. (for more on learning and play :https://backmountainmusictherapy.com/2012/05/the-balance-between-structure-and-play-and-its-long-lasting-results/ )  ( https://backmountainmusictherapy.com/2011/11/music-therapy-and-autism-from-developmental-psychologistdr-stanley-greensan-co-authors-perspective/)

* Children who react with sound to an unpleasant or pleasant situation should have that ability encouraged and nurtured. That is an opening to increase sound, to begin to use sound for expression.

* Even silent children with neurological difficulties may still speak, probably not on the same time line as their peers though. In these cases, speech goals should look like pre-verbal goals. There are many different reasons for the lack of speech, however, if your child is beyond the age of 2 and still not speaking, take care to talk to them and respond to them verbally, always, as if they do (https://backmountainmusictherapy.com/2012/04/recognizing-development-and-its-significance-in-each-individual/). Others response to the child may help or hinder the process.If your child is not talking, many others will assume your child does not understand also, so it is very important that you keep that expectation alive. Communication begins way before word formation. Sing a lot to your child. This is more predictable and understandable to the brain than just words. Music has more structure. Respond to sound as if it has meaning. Children may not be demonstrating understanding, but if they are understanding and just yet can not let you know, imagine how demeaning it must feel when people treat you otherwise.

The two boys whom I mentioned earlier are beginning to make sound and are demonstrating “pop out words”. They are also beginning to find ways to joke and let me know they like something. One of the boys, whom I haven’t seen much or regularly, due to health and doctors appointments, has always been good at letting the world know he was unhappy through limitless screaming, self abuse and pushing away. Today, as we ended the session, I played “Good bye” on his feet with my hand drum. He played it back afterward with his feet. We finished the song and I thought we were done. He took my hand with the drum in it, and tapped it two times (I’m assuming “Good bye”) and smiled ar me as he did so.




  10 comments for “7 Signs That Demonstrate Speech Is Possible

  1. May 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    I would add to continue to read books to your child, as often as possible, to engage them with language and pictures and social contact as a way to reinforce the message that words are pleasurable! My son particularly enjoyed rhyming picture books like PD Eastman, Karma Wilson and Dr. Seuss as well as nursery rhymes.

    • May 29, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      Those are terrific additions Cathy!

  2. May 29, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Interesting story. I agree that reading often and photo books will encourage little ones to speack. When our special needs daughter was a year old the speech therapist recommended creating a photo album filled with photos of family and familiar objects, toys, etc. in her world. Well, I did my homework and made the photo album, but Lucia quickly tore it up. When I couldn’t find a sturdier album alternative, I decided to design my own and found a new business in the process.

    Just wanted to share our story and our new Take Your Pix board book photo albums that are great for speech therapy, PECs used with autistic children, and many other educational activities.

    Also wanted to give hope to parents out there wondering whether their kids will ever speak to them. Sometimes patience, love and working with your child will make all the difference. For our family, our daughter’s speech progress (and overcoming other challenges) was just on her timeline and we had to keep working with her offering love, support and patience. Stay positive, as great things are possible!

    Laura Miranti, CPA
    Board Book Albums

    • May 30, 2012 at 12:31 am

      Laura, your last paragraph says it all, thank you for commenting!

    • May 30, 2012 at 12:31 am

      Laura, your last paragraph says it all, thank you for commenting!

  3. Jenrose
    June 2, 2012 at 8:33 am

    We recently discovered that my 7 year old could read. Because she saw a typed question on a screen and answered it aloud. She doesn’t speak much, and what she has is garbled by a lack of most consonant sounds that aren’t glottal or nasal, but somehow when she can read the words, it helps her talk. No one knew she could read (and probably has been reading for a while) because reading aloud is hard when speaking is a cognitive function.

    She showed so many signs… good sense of rhythm and cadence, humming, singing songs with a lot of mumbles but quite recognizable. Now that they know what to look for, the school agrees she’s reading and has a receptive and expressive vocabulary with speech and sign of many hundreds of words. This is a child with a rare chromosome disorder, a child we were told might never develop language at all.

    • June 5, 2012 at 5:48 pm

      Jenrose, I’m so glad you posted this! I love to hear things like this happening, it is so validating! Thank you so much for posting your experience!

  4. Mary Cavanaugh
    June 5, 2012 at 1:33 am

    Never give up. These children are severely locked up with stress. I wonder if reflexes play a part in this?

  5. Gail
    June 13, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    My son Alexander has autism, and didn’t start talking much until he was almost 4. He is hyperlexic, taught himself to read at age 3. I remember his preschool teacher teaching him to talk by writing the appropriate words on the board for him to read. For example like writing “May I have the red crayon?” so he could know how to ask for things.

    • June 13, 2012 at 6:08 pm

      Gail, I do find that many of the non-verbal children can read. I also find that often times, the visual word or a picture helps the children to get the words out. Thank you for sharing your experience!

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