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Lindsay Kutschman, Marie R. Kerins, Ed.D.

Melodic Intonation Therapy: A Treatment for Childhood Apraxia of Speech in Children with Down Syndrome

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Speech intelligibility is a well-documented problem for individuals with Down syndrome. Research has attributed impairments in speech intelligibility to the anatomical and physiological anomalies in the orofacial area, which characterize Down syndrome (Coppens-Hofman, Maassen, van Schrojenstein Lantman-de Valk, & Snik, 2012). According to Kumin (2006), many children with Down syndrome exhibit speech errors consistent with a motor planning disorder, Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS), but are not diagnosed, and therefore, left untreated. Difficulty with planning and programming speech sequences, symptoms of CAS, may be responsible for speech unintelligibility in some children with Down syndrome. As research on children with Down syndrome with CAS is sparse, this population is the target of the proposed study.

While treatment efficacy has not been established, Melodic Intonation Therapy (MIT) is a treatment approach that has been investigated in treatment of CAS in typically-developing populations. Research suggests that using a slower tempo and exaggerated intonation, principles of MIT, can facilitate speech production and improve intelligibility of speech (Dethorne, Johnson, Walder, & Mahurin-Smith, 2009). Helfrich-Miller (1984) suggested using MIT as a supplementary approach to other therapies. The proposed study seeks to determine whether children with Down syndrome who receive traditional treatment, defined as integral stimulation, supplemented with MIT will be rated as more intelligible than children in the comparison condition, who receive the traditional treatment alone.

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