A new study reveals that music activities can improve communication in toddlers who have received cochlear implants.
Some infants who are born with impaired hearing and who cannot benefit from hearing aids are likely to gain 90% normal hearing ability by undergoing a cochlear implantation procedure. Following the operation, however, the child — who never heard before — undergoes a long rehabilitation process before he or she can begin to speak.
In the present study, Dr. Dikla Kerem of the University of Haifa examined the particular effects that music therapy has on the potential development of toddlers (aged 2-3 years) who have undergone cochlear implantation, specifically in terms of improving spontaneous communication.
“Music comprises various elements that are also components of language and therefore as a non-verbal form of communication is suitable for communication with these children, when they are still unable to use language. Communicative interactions, especially those initiated by the toddlers, are critical in the development of normal communication, as they are prerequisites for developing and acquiring language,” explains Dr. Kerem. She adds that the toddlers undergoing rehabilitation are under much pressure from their surroundings — especially the parents — to begin talking, and sometimes this pressure makes them become introverted. As such, music therapy lends itself to strengthening these children’s nonverbal communication and thereby lessens the pressure on them for verbal exchange and response.
Music can serve to open up the auditory receptivity of these children, lowering their defenses and providing an opportunity to gradually process and understand the components of sound that make up receptive and expressive language. It is a way into a fragile system in need of gentle stimulation and support.
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 University of Haifa (2010, January 7). Music therapy can assist toddlers’ communication rehabilitation process. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 7, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2010/01/100106093636.htm