Strengthening Neural Pathways for Comprehension in School Aged Children & Adolescents

There are many facets to culturally responsive therapy that are effective for children with communication and language disorders. Children’s literature, music, movement, and visuals can strengthen the neural pathways for comprehension. The following information provides information on the multiple benefits.

Music is something that we all know and love. However, did you know that speech therapy involving music can address the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive needs of children? In fact, music with movement and visuals can help strengthen the neural pathways for comprehension when reading. Likewise, the visuals associated with music are likely to help a child with language and attention. Music also promotes an increase in breath and muscle control, easing sound production for children.

Music may increase neurogenesis (new production of neurons) in the hippocampus, improving memory. The hippocampus is responsible for our navigation, memory, and regulation of our emotional responses. This is important for children with autism; the use of music may indicate improvements in their social and cognitive behavior. Music also decreases stress, and pain, while improving cognitive and motor skills.

To use music as a tool, reading can be taught by using children’s songs. Using familiar songs allowed children to focus on the skills being taught because they were already familiar with the content being taught. It is also vital for the child to read the words to the song. Once the child has sung the song enough to remember the lyrics, they are ready to read the lyrics without music.

Another exercise that can be used is to replace words within the songs with words from their word families. This exercise improves phonological awareness. Children need to be taught to listen and identify words that share the same initial, medial, and final sounds to progress in reading.

Rhythm sticks are also a great instrument to use to incorporate movement, rhythm, and music altogether for the child. By feeling the rhythm, children will have a new experience associated with language. The ability of the brain to develop and maintain neural connections is based on the new movement and play experiences of young children.

Keep in mind, that older children can rewrite lyrics in a song to strengthen their language skills. Repetitive songs provide the child with oral patterns that they will eventually use in their own speech.

Sources: https://scholarworks.lib.csusb.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3074&context=etd-project

https://www.ucf.edu/pegasus/your-brain-on-music/

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