The Communication Corner: Music Therapy in Orlando

       Music seems to be a universal component that not only brings people together and instills a multitude of dynamic emotions, but it also provides beneficial treatment and therapy options for many patients and clients of all ages and conditions. The purpose of music therapy is to provide a unique form of treatment and serve as a navigational tool for achieving the goals that the music therapist has set with the patient/client.

Music Therapy can be used to address several individuals needs including, social, cognitive, physical and emotional needs. The therapy styles differ from patient to patient depending on specific demands but creating, listening, moving to, and singing are all common types of therapy methods. Music therapy is not only a unique therapy method but can also serves as a catalyst for patients, in which other areas of their lives become enhanced. Research shows that music therapy demonstrates favorable promise in the aspects of physical rehabilitation, increased motivation, creating an outlet of self expression, and also providing an avenue of emotional support for patients and family members. Music Therapy can also assist in generating relaxation and aid in decreasing anxiety and discomfort that can often times be brought on by disabilities associated with injury.

The healing powers of music have been recognized as far back as the great literary works of Aristotle and Plato. However, it wasn’t until World War l and World War ll that a demand for music therapy grew and became a fundamental part of society. Music therapy grew its roots when community musicians gathered together and began to play for wounded soldiers and veterans in local hospitals. The doctors and nurses quickly realized how beneficial music was to the recovery and well being of their patients and soon after, the demand for a college curriculum was born. In 1944, Michigan State University founded the first collegiate program for music therapy. Today, there are over 70 universities across the country that have degree programs in music therapy up to the doctoral level.

To be clear, there is a vast difference between a music therapist and a musician. In order to become a music therapist, one must hold a bachelor’s degree or higher from a university accredited by the American Music Therapy Association. Apart from the general required curriculum, a student must complete 1200 hours of clinical training, as well as a supervised internship. After successful completion of at least a bachelor’s degree, aspiring music therapists are invited to sit for a national board certified exam in order to obtain credential music therapist certification. This exam is vital, as it is the only way to practice music therapy in a professional atmosphere. As is any other profession, a music therapist must follow the policy guidelines listed under the Code of Ethics, Standards of Clinical Practice, and Professional Policies.

With the help of music therapists, it has become evident that more people can be helped in an extraordinary way that is tailored to their specific strengths and weaknesses. Music therapy is a positive experience that enhances growth, change, and prosperity not only in the individual receiving the treatment, but in the surrounding family members as well.

Pamela Rowe, Speech and Music Therapy provides Music Therapy services by a Board Certified Music Therapist in the Greater Orlando and Central Florida area. Please call our office  at 407-271-4911 to see if Music Therapy can help you or your loved one.

-Cassie Weinz, BS, SLP-A

PRESS RELEASE: Early Detection of Communication Disorders

Orlando Community Speech Pathologist Applauds Campaign Highlighting Importance of Early Detection of Communication Disorders

Survey of Communication Experts Finds Public Unaware of Key Warning Signs

(ORLANDO, FL – JAN 1, 2014) With the nationwide launch of the new public awareness campaign Identify the Signs by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Central Florida-based Speech-Language Pathologist Pamela Rowe encourages parents, caregivers, and others to educate themselves about the early warning signs of speech, language, and hearing disorders. The Identify the Signs campaign includes a variety of multimedia resources designed specifically for consumers. The campaign stems from ASHA’s new findings that identify lack of awareness of the early warning signs as the leading barrier to early detection and treatment.

Results of a recent survey of ASHA’s membership revealed that 45% of expert respondents reported lack of awareness as the number one barrier to early detection of communication disorders. Research has shown that early detection is critical to treating—and oftentimes reversing—communication disorders. Delayed treatment can result in isolation, poor academic or career performance, and delayed development.

“As a certified Speech-Language Pathologist, I see how delayed intervention negatively impacts the children and adults every single day,” Pamela Rowe, MA, CCC-SLP says. “ASHA’s campaign has great potential to help the public identify and act on the early warning signs of communication disorders, allowing people to get the most effective treatment for the best chance at improved quality of life.”

ASHA’s campaign consists of English and Spanish television, radio, and print public service announcements disseminated to outlets across the country. In addition, the effort includes an online banner ad and features a campaign website highlighting the early warning signs of speech, language, and hearing disorders, as well as consumer resources for treatment and help.

“A great number of Central Floridians—and people across the country—suffer from communication disorders. This campaign has the ability to reduce that number by helping parents, spouses, and loved ones to identify the first signs of these disorders and seek professional help immediately,” Pamela Rowe, MA, CCC-SLP says.

For more information, visit www.IdentifyTheSigns.org.

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The Communication Corner: Old-fashioned play in a high tech world

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In today’s world of light up toys, buttons, videos, touch-screens, animations, TV channels, etc., I see too many children lacking good old-fashion play. Sometimes the well-meaning parent doesn’t realize that these gadgets and devices (though impressive to us and novel to them) are simply not providing enough stimulation for those crucial childhood years when cognition is developing. So, here’s five tips for going back to the basics:

Pick interactional toys

As a health professional having to write mountains of documentation, we learn to use certain catch phrases such as “interactional activities” instead of “play” so that insurance agencies don’t think we have such awesome jobs where we get to play all day. This euphemism is very accurate as it acknowledges the most important component of play: interaction between child and peer or adult. In as such, not all toys are greatly suited for interactions. Toys that mimic everyday activities such as play kitchen, food, cars, shopping carts, and dress up become tools to exploring the world. Toys that necessitate working together such as Legos, puzzles, blocks, and trains also naturally encourage use of language and inventive, playful interaction.

Keep it child-centered

As adults, our attention span and ability to complete tasks is much more developed than children’s. This lack of sustained attention is why children go from one toy to another in a matter of minutes. When playing, children like to explore; following their lead ensures that you maintain their attention so that learning can take place. Let them knock down that tower that took so much effort to build! It might seem destructive to us, and yes even a bit annoying, but to them the knocking it down might be the best part. Aside from letting the child have control over play time, keeping it child-centered also means that play is constantly related to the child. If you are building a tower, build it bigger than Susie, if you are playing house, make sure the phone rings and it’s for him/her, etc. Any opportunity to put the spotlight on the child is a good opportunity.

Use a variety of toys

Kids have such great imagination that you don’t actually always even need toys! We’ve all heard that conventional wisdom: children like the box better than the toy. I’ve had great sessions with just a piece of tissue and a few play animals, the tissue was a blanket, when rolled into balls it was eggs/food, it was a cloth for cleaning, it was clothing, it was a diaper… . When typically developing kids reach a certain age they are able to engage in “pretend” play. So, anything and everything can be toys. A few figurines, a doll, some clothes, and a few empty containers can go a long way with children. On the other hand, you can also use very expensive toys such as tablets and computers.

When using technology… keep interacting!

Just because a device can talk at children and have them memorize their ABCs does not mean they are being sufficiently stimulated! Pick apps and modules that are engaging to the child but sit with them and engage in the activity together. You can expand on what the visuals are doing or shut the sound off and interact with your child yourself. You have a better feel for what they are attending to and what they like, so use these devices as a tool to further your own interactions.

Be a child!

These tips are not in any particular order, but I think this is probably the most important one. You see, if you let yourself let loose, be playful, be animated, be mesmerized by the little things then all the previous tips come naturally. Too often I see parents interact with children in drill tasks “what’s this?”, “tell me about this?”, “do you like that?”… these are conversations for adults! Don’t get me wrong, naming is a very important skill for children to learn but it can come embedded in play. So, how do you play like a child? That is probably better suited to another post onto itself but the gist of it is be animated, and make everything a story or a way for events to lead to other events. Basically, if you are bored, and you sound bored, then the child is probably also bored!

The Communication Corner: Using Christmas Carols to Promote Communication

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Music-based therapy is a widely researched and utilized method of treatment for those with communication disorders. Music-based therapy can have an impact on anyone of any age, diagnoses, or communication ability. It has been used in conjunction with speech-language therapy for those with: aphasia, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, apraxia, autism, Down syndrome, and many other neurologically based disorders.

Music uses some of the same neural pathways as spontaneous speech. Therefore, listening to/singing music with lyrics uses similar neural pathways as listening to and expressing speech. Music can help tap into areas of the brain that are not otherwise being utilized during the therapeutic process. By accessing areas of the brain related to music, we are allowing those with communication difficulties to bypass affected areas of the brain and communicate in alternative methods.

In the holiday season, there are plenty of great ways to incorporate music into your everyday lives and increase communication! Here are a few examples:

Aphasia: Individual’s with aphasia generally have intact use of the right side of their brains (the music center). When singing a familiar song, words will come easier to them because music is not as affected as spontaneous speech. Individuals who are unable to communicate after a stroke may still be able to sing along with “Winter Wonderland”!

Dementia: Playing Christmas carols may be a great way for individuals with dementia to reminisce about past Christmases, the feeling of the holiday spirit, seeing their children/grandchildren in a holiday play, or other cherished past times.

Apraxia: Whether its Childhood Apraxia of Speech or acquired apraxia, individuals with motor speech disorders are able to use music, rhythms, and intonation to increase motor planning. So children with CAS and adults with acquired apraxia can increase intelligibility while singing along with holiday favorites!

Language delays: Help children learn holiday themed vocabulary through the use of popular Christmas carols. Especially for children who have grown up in Florida, this is a great opportunity to learn about reindeer, sleighs, snowmen, mistletoe, winter, elves, etc.