Fort Myers speech therapy lullaby

Speech Therapy Talking Points: Lullabies Boost Preemie Health

There are lullabies that promise pretty horses and twinkling stars and some over-the-rainbow places where dreams-come-true. But pediatric music and speech therapy researchers have learned that lullabies may hold another promise: Better health for premature babies.

Recent analysis shows a parent who sing to preemies still receiving treatment in neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can:

  • Soothe a child amid scary new sensations and hospital noises, bonding parent-to-child.
  • Regulate breathing and improve oxygen absorption for those who haven’t yet developed reflexive breathing.
  • Boost a baby’s nutritional intake, imperative for those with immature oral-facial muscles struggling to suck and swallow

Speech Therapy Pros: Preemies – All Babies – Need Your Voice 

At our FOCUS Fort Myers speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy clinic, we treat many children born prematurely, as they are at much higher risk of neurodevelopmental difficulties. The earlier we intervene the better, but encourage parents to start first. Even the simple act of talking regularly to your child from a young age  can do wonders.

For a premature baby, lullabies serve much the same purpose – but with power that extends beyond just speech and language development extending to objectively improved odds at survival for babies born at 37 weeks or earlier.

A 2013 study published in Pediatrics found that a parent’s lullabies or even just humming – gentle and rhythmic – played to the backdrop of low guitar strings reduced stress levels and promoted bonding, as evidenced by:

  • Regulated babies’ heartbeats;
  • Promoted longer, deeper periods of sleep;
  • Improved weight gain;
  • Shorter hospital stays;
  • Better long-term cognitive development and function.
Down syndrome speech therapy

Effective Fort Myers Speech Therapy for Children With Down Syndrome

Children with Down syndrome often have speech delays and speech impairments. This is in addition to other differences in growth and development, which includes intellectual disabilities and unique facial features. Fort Myers speech therapy at FOCUS can help children with Down Syndrome make strides in their speech and communication skills, which helps boost overall learning and development.

A study published in the International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology reveals children with Down Syndrome may have motor speech deficits that aren’t being properly or adequately diagnosed, which impacts the type of speech interventions their speech therapists use when treating them.

Researchers pointed out that most children who have Down Syndrome have historically been diagnosed with a condition called childhood dysarthria. It’s basically a condition where the muscles we use to talk or breath (i.e., those in our lips, face, tongue and throat) are weak, leading to a motor speech disorder that can be mild to severe. (In addition to Down syndrome children, dysarthria is also diagnosed frequently among those who have brain injury, cerebral palsy, stroke and brain tumors.) What the study authors discovered is among children with Down syndrome, symptoms of childhood apraxia of speech might be missed among those already diagnosed with dysarthria because many physicians assume these disorders can’t be co-existing. Turns out: They can!