Art, Music, DanceChildren

Music therapy for children with delayed speech development

Children with delayed speech development are at risk of acquiring other cognitive (reasoning), social-emotional, and school-related problems.

Researchers in Germany studied the effects of music therapy in these children.

First, the details.

  • 18 children with delayed speech development were assigned to a treatment group.
    • Individualized music therapy
    • No treatment Individual music therapy
  • All participants received each treatment twice, with an interval of about 8 weeks between treatments.
  • Before and after each period, a speech development test, a non-verbal intelligence test for children, and music therapy assessment scales were used to evaluate speech development.

And, the results.

  • There was positive development after receiving music therapy.
  • Both phonological capacity (sounds of speech) and the children’s understanding of speech increased under treatment.
  • There was also improvement in cognitive structures, action patterns, and level of intelligence.
  • The children, according to the Nordoff-Robbins scales, showed clinically significant changes in client-therapist relationship and communication.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Music therapy may have a measurable effect on the speech development of children through the treatment’s interactions with fundamental aspects of speech development, including the ability to form and maintain relationships and prosodic [intonation, pitch, rate, loudness, rhythm, etc] abilities.”

It’s a small study, but the results suggest that music may have a complementary role in the treatment of children with delayed speech development.

7/29/10 11:30 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.