The Value of Musical Interactions in Early Development in Down syndrome: A Grounded Theory Study

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Yokoyama, Mia
Down syndrome , oral language development , early childhood , music , early intervention
This study examines musical interactions in the early life of a child with Down syndrome (DS) who developed fluent oral language skills by the age of five. This allowed for rich social and learning experiences in kindergarten and set a solid foundation of early literacy skills. Research in young children with DS has mainly focused on improving parent-child communication, but interventions require unfeasible levels of frequency to be highly effective. Current research on the benefits of music for typically developing children indicates improvements to auditory abilities, vocabulary, oral language skills, attention, emotional regulation and prosocial skills. No such studies have yet to be conducted with children who have DS. The neurocognitivist approach to language suggests that wider elements of development are connected to language development, and this is another area in need of further research. This study begins to address these gaps by analyzing several different sources of personal data from the early life of a child with DS. These include autoethnographic writing by the mother, personal mementos such as photographs, a compact disc (CD) collection, social media posts and the child’s early years’ developmental reports. Grounded theory was used to analyze the influence of musical experiences and song on the extraordinary development of this child with DS. Results lay the foundation for wider research projects and have implications for early childhood intervention and education practice, public policy, and parent training for families with children who have DS and possibly other developmental challenges.
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