Music in Speech Therapy with Children Who Are Bilingual: What Works?

Dr. Ruth Crutchfield, SLP.D., CCC-SLP University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, TX

Dr. Ruth Crutchfield is a lecturer and clinical supervisor at the University of Texas-Pan American. Dr. Crutchfield graduated with her master’s degree in Communication Disorders Bilingual/Bicultural from UTPA in December of 1997 and has held the Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech and Hearing Association since then. Dr. Crutchfield received her Doctor of Speech Language Pathology in May of 2010. She practiced for seven years in the public school system and for four years as the director of speech-language pathology at a pediatric outpatient rehabilitation center. For the last three years, Dr. Crutchfield has been a clinical instructor and supervisor at the University of Texas-Pan American where she teaches language disorders in children, speech science and clinical report writing. Her experiences range from working as an SLP in the school system, working with the geriatric population in a nursing home and outpatient facility, and working with the pediatric population in all scopes in an outpatient rehabilitative facility. She has attended various workshops (i.e. SI for SLP’s, M.O.R.E., Beckman Oral Motor, Visual Phonics, Therapeutic Listening, Autism, Feeding Strategies, Dysphagia, Apraxia Kids, Fluency Therapy – Efficient Strategies, PROMPT, Carbone’s Verbal Behavior Therapy to name a few) from which knowledge she is able to draw from when forming a prescriptive treatment plan. Introduction It is important to acknowledge that music is used in the area of speech therapy largely due to the influence that has been received by the field of music therapy itself.  Music therapy is a profession that is delving on its own to provide proof of its effectiveness in rehabilitation of individuals with various disabilities.  For speech therapy, speech-language pathologists (SLP’s) have been using music to enhance their treatment plan.  At times, music is used to mark the beginning or ending of a session, or to enhance a certain activity that the SLP has prepared where a specific song emphasizes the language concept that the therapist is targeting in a private setting.  SLP’s in the schools work with the special education units where music may be utilized throughout the day.  The effectiveness of its use is evident in the manner in which the students successfully transition, or that morning routine is beginning.  These are all examples of how music is naturally utilized in therapeutic settings.  Molnar-Szakacs and Overy (2006), recently found through functional magnetic resonant imaging evidence suggesting that “music, like language, involves an intimate coupling between the perception and production of hierarchically organized sequential information, the structure of which has the ability to communicate meaning and emotion” (p. 235). Molnar-Szakas and Overy (2006) provide more of a substantial basis for using music in speech therapy. However, the question is posed: Is there evidence to prove that music therapy is effective for the specific purposes of speech and language therapy and what specifically can be done that is effective in promoting treatment outcomes? Read More »