words, words, words!
Once children experience the power of their words, they become highly motivated to communicate. Auditory stimulation combined with microphone work helps individuals to further hone their newfound voices...
C hanges Observed with Tomatis Therapy: I was drawn to the Tomatis Method initially because of the changes in postural and regulatory functions that I observed. I initially saw sound stimulation as another form of vestibular input and another way to improve sensory integration functions. What I saw then and continue to see regularly were the following:
Improved postural functions
- Improved muscle tone. - Improved gait patterns. Toddler gait becomes more reciprocal - Improved gravitational security ( up/down stairs, elevators etc.) Improved regulatory functions
- Decrease in tactile defensiveness -Decrease in auditory sensitivity - Improved sleep/ appetite functions. Improved motor planning
- Improved imitation Improved sequencing
As I got further into using the Tomatis Method I really saw that there were some changes that seemed more specific to the method, that seemed, changes that I saw with Sensory integration therapy, but seem to come more quickly and with more consistency with the Tomatis Method. What I saw in particular were changes in ideational praxis particularly as it is involved in communication exchange.
- Improved ideation and conception about how to use of toys and tools. - Play becomes increasingly symbolic Improved communication
- More affectionate - What to be in social situations rather than withdraw. - Improved non-verbal communication including gestural communication and pointing. Improved auditory processing.
Responded to their names being called. Followed directions. - Improved speech and language. Articulation is clearer. Content is more organized. Increased spontaneous language vs. rote Language is more interactional, transactional, two-way, Increased circles of communication. What was interesting was that we weren't specifically focusing on those things.
L ack of language development on the expected timetable can cause great concern to parents and caregivers. In these situations, parents want to look for signs of pre-verbal, intentional communication such as pointing. A child who is intentionally communicating through non-verbal gestures is likely getting ready to begin communicating verbally. A child who is not may need to focus on developing non-verbal communication skills before words can be expected.
The use of symbolic communication (intentional gestures) in pre-verbal children resembles the evolution of language development. Understanding what bridged the gap between the primate mind and the modern representational mind can help us understand where some of this fails to develop in the child with apraxia and language difficulties.
E volution of Language
Merlin Donald's book 'Origins of the Modern Mind' details the transition from primate cognition to human cognition without language, to the emergence of language and the human culture. Humans did not simply evolve a larger brain, an expanded memory, a vocabulary, or a special speech apparatus; rather, we evolved new systems to represent the world around us. In short, we developed symbols. No other animal has ever invented a symbolic system-gesture or word to represent something else in its natural environment. In fact, most animals cannot use symbols at all. How then did we come to represent the world around us in symbolic form?
First Came Episodic Thought
The first type of cognition was episodic thought or 'memory of episodes.' Episodic thought is memory that is present in mammals and a variety of other animals such as birds. In fact, it is highly evolved in apes. In this type of thought, an event (episode) is remembered in a literal, situation-specific manner. There is no reflection or representation of these thoughts. However, episodic thought is useful in many aspects of animal behavior. For example, a dog learns to sit on command through repeated trials: the word 'sit' is said, the dog is placed in the seated position, and a treat is given. As the dog begins to develop a 'memory' of this activity, he learns to assume the seated position when he hears the word 'sit.' Through repeated trials, the dog commits this episode to memory and thus responds appropriately to the command. However, when the dog is not being asked to sit, he is not thinking about sitting, nor is he remembering what it was like to sit or wondering whether he'll be asked to sit again soon.
Children with apraxia and language challenges seem to use their episodic memory well. In fact, this may explain why 'discrete trial format'approach is a successful intervention with these children-it ostensibly helps the child develop a large repertoire of learned skills. However, this is also one of the drawbacks of exclusively using this system of learning. Children need to learn to generalize beyond an episode so that they can adapt to new situations.
For a period of about 1 millions years (according to Donald), humans transitioned from episodic thought to symbolic communication as we know it today. This intermediate stage is known as the Mimetic Culture-the time in which pre-verbal humans began to communicate with each other using 'mime.' Imagine spending the entire day using charades to communicate with others and you have a pretty good idea of what the mimetic culture may have been like. The objective of mime is to represent an event. The famous mime Marcel Marceau used his body movements and facial expressions to clearly represent words or activities, charming his audiences with his ability to convey whole stories without uttering a word.
According to Donald, 'Mimetic thought is the ability to produce conscious, self-initiated representational acts that are intentional but not linguistic' Mimesis is fundamentally different from imitation in that it involves the invention of intentional representations. It is this intentional communication that appears to be compromised in individuals with apraxia. These children don't tend to use the kind of gesturing that is present in mimetic thought structure.
Mimesis involves a wide variety of actions and modalities-tones of voice, facial expressions, eye movements, manual signs and gesture s, postural attitudes, patterned whole-body movements (Donald)-and therefore requires multi-sensory processing (sensory integration) in order to be carried out successfully. This may be another reason why some children do not engage in these pre-linguistic forms of communication-the effort required to coordinate that many body movements and sensory activiti es is more than they can put forth. For example, many non-verbal children do not clap their hands since hand clapping involves bilateral coordination (coordinating both sides of the brain and body simultaneously). Since they cannot do the gesture, they may also not fully understand the meaning of the gesture.
From Episodic To Mimetic To Symbolic:
What led from mimetic thought to symbolic communication and language? According to Donald, mimetic thought evolved quickly into a system of standardized gestures. In other words, gestures became symbolic. When a person puts her finger to her lips, it means the same thing to you as it does to a Kalahari Bushman. However, it is not the same as acting out an event; it is instead a gesture that represents 'Be quiet.' Likewise, language is simply a group of symbols (letter/sounds) that represent a thought or item. It is completely symbolic.
Some individuals do not have a developed capacity for symbolic thought and therefore are not yet ready to use words to represent thoughts, feelings, and actions. These individuals tend not to point or wave 'bye-bye.' In fact, many may learn to wave 'bye-bye' through discrete trial, yet not fully grasp the meaning of what they are doing. It is here that we see the connection between mimetic thought and praxis: Praxis involves ideation, or the creation of an 'idea' of what one wants to do, followed by the organization and execution of a plan in order to do it.
Praxis allows for intentional, purposeful communication and interaction with our world. Mimetic thought, the pre-verbal aspect of intentional communication, is in some ways the first step to intentional communication. It is critical, then, that parents and professionals not skip over the pre-linguistic aspects of communication when working on language development.
Sometimes parents (and professionals) are so focused on waiting for that precious first word that they miss their child's pre-verbal communication. This pre-verbal communication is the foundation for verbal communication and deserves as much attention and enthusiasm. A non-verbal child who suddenly begins to point to his cup for a drink is asking for his cup. The words will likely follow in due time, but the pre-verbal asking is just as significant.
Pre-verbal children who go through a Sensory Integration combined with auditory training program, often develop intentional yet non-verbal communication prior to developing language. These children become better able to coordinate their bodies in order to communicate, and better able to process and use the sensory messages they receive. This pre-linguistic communication is the framework for the development of words and language. For many it is only a short time before words emerge which join, embellish and eventually replace the gestures. Once children experience the power of their words, they become highly motivated to communicate. Auditory stimulation combined with microphone work helps individuals to further hone their newfound voices, as therapists assist with vocabulary and sentence development.