Treating Prosody in Young Children
The last two weeks I have been investigating the development of prosody and its importance in speech and language development. In my research of prosody over the past few weeks, I have found that information is somewhat limited. The information that I found remains mainly connected to Asperger's and Autism Spectrum Disorders, as well as CAS (Childhood Apraxia of Speech).
On the CASANA (Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America) website there exists resources for both families of children diagnosed with CAS and speech therapists working with children diagnosed with CAS. On the website, the "Family Start Guide" link offers "a number of features of speech therapy that appear to be most successful for children with apraxia of speech." The features include components such as
- Practice and repetition - with speech
- The use of cueing
- Focus on speech sequences
And lastly, the Use of rhythm: Use of rhythm may help pace speech and help with naturalness of intonation, syllable and word stress patterns - a particular problem for children with apraxia of speech. The rate, intonation, and stress in speech are called prosody. Examples of the use of rhythm in speech therapy for children with apraxia may be clapping or tapping for each syllable or clapping harder when saying the syllable that should be stressed in a word.
On About.com, I found an article entitled Autistic Speech and Prosody, from December 2010, which states:
"Spoken language involves more than use of words; we vary our pitch, loudness, tempo, and rhythm in speech in order to convey different meanings. These changes are called "prosody," and people with autism often find prosody difficult to hear, understand, or reproduce. What this means is that even people with very high functioning autism or Asperger syndrome may not truly understand what is being said, or may say things in such a way that they are misunderstood."
The article goes on and states:
"Because many people with Asperger's syndrome or high functioning autism can be very bright and have huge vocabularies, difficulties with prosody and language use aren't always obvious. The outcome is that conversational partners may be unintentionally offended or confused, resulting in hurt feelings and negative interactions".
Another issue related to problems with prosody is a "flat" voice, sometimes misinterpreted as lack of interest, lack of intelligence, lack of humor or lack of emotional response.
The article states at the end:
There are no full-fledged therapies developed to help people with autism overcome deficits in prosody.....if you are interested in exploring possible directions for improving prosody, you may wish to explore:
- Music Therapy
- Pragmatic Speech Therapy
- Social Skills Therapy
Please share some of the techniques YOU have used to help address issues
with prosody in speech therapy!