Authors: Icht M
Title: Introducing the Beatalk technique: using beatbox sounds and rhythms to improve speech characteristics of adults with intellectual disability
Source: International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders 2019 54(3): 401-416
Year: 2019
Research Design: Non Randomised Controlled Trial
Rating Score: N/A
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Background: Individuals with intellectual disability (ID) often demonstrate speech impairments and reduced intelligibility. However, traditional treatment methods, which involve using repetitive verbal and non‐verbal exercises, may not be fully suitable for this population. As adults with ID tend to lose interest and motivation facing the demands of a typical speech therapy session, other intervention methods are needed. The current study tested a novel intervention technique, Beatalk, based on practising vocally produced sounds and rhythms, imitating the sounds produced by rhythm machines in an a cappella musical context (i.e., human beatboxing). Human beatboxing may be a particularly effective tool since it involves intense production of speech sounds (phonemes) that can be misarticulated in the presence of speech disorders; it is relatively easy to learn and practice, and is also considered 'fun'. Aims: As many of the features of beatboxing make it a promising method for speech therapy, this pioneering study aimed to examine its effectiveness in comparison with a traditional speech therapy. Methods & Procedures: Twelve adults with moderate ID and low speech intelligibility (age 24–48 years) participated in a speech therapy group for 6 weeks. Six participants were assigned to the Beatalk (study) group and six to a traditional (control) therapy group. Pre‐ to post‐treatment changes in speech intelligibility and voice measures were assessed. Outcomes & Results: The preliminary data demonstrate that both types of therapy groups resulted in improved performance in articulation accuracy and voice measures, yet the Beatalk technique yielded larger gains. Conclusions & Implications: The results present initial evidence for the beneficial effect of the Beatalk technique as an intervention tool for adults with ID. It is an easy‐to‐use technique in the context of speech therapy, and may enhance verbal communication skills in this population.

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