Speech Difficulties and Sound Therapy
Speech develops at different speeds, and there is a
range which is considered normal development. By 2 to 3 years of
age, a child should be able to string two or three words together to
talk about and ask for things.
Most speech difficulties are caused by some interference or
distortion in auditory reception (unless there is a
deformity in the vocal apparatus). Hearing our own voice is a source
of constant feedback while we are speaking, and if there is any
confusion in the sequence of received sounds, the output of speech
will likewise be confused.
Ths can result in:
- substitutions of one sound for another,
- stumbling over words, or
- a flat and toneless voice.
Speech difficulties and delays frequently lead
problems in other areas where language is used, such as reading and
writing. The element which is the basis for all these skills is the
ability to hear and process sound accurately.
Language and Laterality
In the same way that we are right-handed or left-handed (or
ambidextrous), one or both of our ears is dominant when it comes
to directing sound to our brain.
According to ENT specialist and Sound Therapy pioneer Dr Alfred
Tomatis, language problems are frequently associated with
left-ear dominance ("left laterality") as it causes an extra step in the auditory feedback process.
The left brain hemisphere is our primary language processing centre, and is where speech, speech comprehension and language comprehension
Each ear communicates with the brain hemisphere on the opposite side
of the body. Since the right ear communicates directly with the left
brain, if the left ear is the one directing sounds associated with
speech (either listening to someone else talking, or hearing your
own voice), there is a delay in processing it, as those inputs
then need to be sent from the right brain to the left.
Sound Therapy trains the right ear to become
dominant by continually playing more sound with a higher volume into
the right ear. When the right ear becomes dominant, the language
function naturally switches to the left brain hemisphere, correcting
reversed or mixed laterality.
Read about the research conducted regarding laterality, Sound Therapy and speech problems
Stuttering is due to left or mixed laterality where the length of delay in
processing speech exceeds 0.15 - 0.2 seconds (depending on the
Sound Therapy feeds more sound into the right
ear than the left to encourage it to become the leading ear. The
right ear is more directly linked to the left hemisphere of the
brain and its language processing centres. Therefore, when the right
ear becomes the directing ear, the delay is removed, and the stutter
can be overcome.
Dr Tomatis worked with a group of 74 stutterers and discovered that
all of them had difficulty hearing from the right ear. When he
educated them to use the right ear alone, all of them began to speak
Studies with stutterers have indicated the effectiveness of
Sound Therapy in 82% to 100% of cases (Van Jaarsveld, 1973
See studies by Van Wyk and Van Jaarsveld relating to stuttering.
Other speech impediments
Dr Tomatis discovered that the voice can only produce what
the ear hears. The sounds of consonants, such as b, d, p, g
and t, are high frequency sounds and are essential for clear
comprehension of speech.
Before children can begin learning to produce these sounds, they must
first be able to hear them. Sound Therapy stimulates the
hearing capacity and exercises the ear, training it in particular to
receive high frequency sounds that are lost when hearing is
damaged. This in turn makes a greater range of tonality available to
the voice, which is very important for producing intelligible speech.
Learn more about how Sound Therapy rehabilitates the ear.
James Bragg's Story
"I have had an elusive speech problem since childhood. Sometimes the
speech was fluent and easy; other times it simply would not come out. I literally could not talk. Most people were not aware of it, since I 'cleverly' disguised my problem by acting 'professorial' - thinking a
lot and talking very little and slowly. All of this had a devastating effect on my personality, creating mood swings which were violent and unexpected. Resultingly, depression became an old, old friend.
"Now this is all changed. I can talk! Mood swings are very mild and
no longer a problem. I truly feel that I am being myself for the
first time in my life. I know who I am. Energy is greatly increased;
stamina and endurance greatly improved. I sleep from two to four
hours a night and awake feeling marvellous. Just call me Lazarus!"
Tips for using Sound Therapy for speech problems
Your child should be encouraged to listen to Sound Therapy for
30 - 60 minute each day. If it is possible for your
child to listen for longer than this each day, that will be even
more beneficial. Regular daily listening is essential for the
right ear dominance to be achieved.
The "Let's Recite" album in the Family Program is great to use for
children with speech difficulties, as it gives them the opportunity to
repeat what is said and integrate their speaking with their new
experience of listening.
Another good exercise for children with any form of speech difficulty
is speaking into a microphone while monitoring their voice through the
right ear. There are two ways to do this:
- Use a microphone on and headset on a computer and wear only the
right headphone, or
- Simply close off the right ear with fingers or an ear plug. This
increases the volume of the child's own voice in the right ear.
Your child can speak, sing, read or make any vocal sounds. This
exercise can be done for some time each day in conjunction with the
Learn more about how to use Sound Therapy.