Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Meet Macy

Meet my daughter Macy.

She will be turning three this summer. She loves blowing and popping bubbles, playing doll house, singing (anything from her ABC's to "Rumor has it" by Adele), cuddling on the couch with us, and playing in the pool. She enjoys peek-a-boo, taking walks, swinging on swings, and reading books. One of her favorite things to say is "thank you!" as she gives you a coy smile. Most of the time (when she's not throwing a tantrum here or there) she is a happy, happy girl.

In many ways, Macy is normal, but she also has a speech delay. A year and a half ago, after realizing that her speech wasn't developing the way that it should, I realized she might have fluid in her ears. She'd only been diagnosed with two ear infections, so the doctor was skeptical, but after testing and waiting and testing again, we found out I was right.

She had tubes put in her ears, and we immediately noticed a change in her hearing. Speech, though, was slower to come. It would come in spurts; sometimes I'd think "Now she's really going to take off!" much like my 11-year-old did when she was a toddler, but then her speech development would slow down again.

She's been in speech therapy since October of last year, and I've definitely seen improvements. She is making great eye contact. She's starting to tell us what she wants (like "Cake!" "Cookies!" as she runs to the high chair.) But there are still struggles, like when she just won't tell us that she's hungry and she screams and cries, or when strangers walk up to her at the store, expecting to have a conversation with her ("Hello! What's your name? How old are you?") and Macy gives them a blank stare, or just ignores them.

I've found some good resources online, but I don't know anyone else with children who currently have speech delays. I, myself, didn't really talk intelligibly until I was five. From what I understand, speech delay can be hereditary, so this may be exactly how I was at this age. Times have changed, though, and parenting has gotten competitive. It can make it even more isolating when you hear people bantering back and forth about the latest thing their two-year-old can do, and your almost three-year-old isn't doing any of those things...

I am starting this blog--even though I have another active blog about music education--to connect to parents in the same or similar situation, to lend a listening ear, to offer strategies that have worked for Macy, and to offer resources to help develop your own child's speech. I am not a speech expert, just a mom trying to work with my daughter as much as possible so she is not only happy but developing the way she should be.

Feel free to subscribe to the blog, and leave a comment below! Have a great day!


  1. Great first post Aileen!!! As we've discussed, my son also had a speech delay. I can't wait to follow you on your journey!

  2. Hi Aileen!
    Thanks so much for sharing your daughter's story. It is great to see someone so young benefiting from the power of music. As a licensed music therapist I will tell you that you are right on the money with your "song to speech" title for this blog. There is a great deal of research that suggests that understanding and responding to speech may be a rhythmic skill (and the auditory and motoric or rhythmic areas of the brain and very closely linked). Music helps to segment words by syllables and gives the brain and ear a longer window to process words and sound them out (think of "happy birthday" in which there is one rhythmic notation per syllable). Singing questions or commands may help your daughter because the pitches are processed in the auditory/motoric part of the brain first so she can hear the [now exaggerated] inflection in your words, and that gives her time to digest the meaning and respond. This is very people often use that "singsong" baby voice when they talk to infants-it is instinctual to help them learn and process speech. One thing you can also do is a "leave in the blank" singing technique. Where you sing a phrase from a song that she knows but don't give the last word for example "old mcdonald had a..." and then after a few times of this she should respond "farm!". The hanging, unfinished cadence at the end of this phrase should prompt her to finish the sentence. Please contact me ( if you have any other questions, I hope this has been helpful. The relationship between speech and music is not well understood but in actuality music and tonal communication was a precursor to spoken language so it makes sense that they have a strong relationship! I would love to help you and your family in any way and show others the power music can have for children with speech delays or communication disorders. Best of luck to you and your family.