Using Background Noise as a Tool in Speech Therapy

Using Background Noise as a Tool in Speech Therapy

Most of the time, my speech therapy room is fairly quiet. I wouldn’t say it’s as quiet as a mouse, but it doesn’t seem to have an awful lot of background noise going on. Most of the time, I’m thankful for this lack of background noise because I believe the silence allows my students to better focus on the new information that I present to them. However, sometimes I want there to be some background noise. Why? Because most of my students tend to lose their focus once there’s a bit of background noise thrown into the mix and I figure that if I introduce a small amount of background noise from time to time, it can help to build their background noise tolerance.

Why should we build background noise tolerance?

Because environments that have various background noises are realistic. In fact, I would be dare to say that they’re almost the norm. Think about it, environments such as a quiet classroom, or a silent library, those places seem to be VERY few and far between. But environments that have background noises, such as a lunch room/cafeteria, gymnasium, hallway, playground, etc., these are the places that students are often exposed to and I want them to be able to effectively communicate in those non-quite types of environments, too.

So, I make my quite speech room not so quiet to give them some practice.

In an effort to attempt to recreate an environment filled with potentially distracting background noises, I have been turning to Coffitivity for help. Coffitivity is both a website and an app for your iPhone and iPad that does one thing perfectly . . . it plays the most realistic background noises I have ever heard. As of right now, the website features a few different background noises to choose from that includes Morning Murmur (which is described as a gentle hum that gets the day started), Lunchtime Lounge (which is described as the bustling chatter of the lunchtime rush), University Undertones (which is described as the scholarly sounds of a campus cafe), and more!

So many background noise possibilities can be introduced into the speech therapy setting!

For example, if your student is able to properly pronounce his /R/ sound in all positions of the word during spontaneous conversation, I’m almost positive that you’ve only been practicing that goal in a silent speech therapy room. Why not crank it up a notch and play some background noise WHILE that student is practicing his /R/ sound? Does the student become distracted? Does the student misarticulate the /R/ sound because of the background noise that threw him off? If so, this is the perfect opportunity for you, as the speech-language pathologist, to start a valuable discussion about background noise and how it’s all around us. Together, you and your student could easily come up with some strategies to stay focused and “block the noise” (as one of my artic kiddos once said) to ensure that the /R/ sound is as crisp as possible.

Though Coffitivity is not necessarily created as a tool for speech therapy, it’s PERFECT for speech therapy!

The main audience that tends to use Coffitivity for their background noises are creative folks – graphic designers, authors, painters, etc. The reason that these types of people are playing various background noises while they’re working on something is because the research is starting to show that being exposed to a certain amount of background noise while being engaged in a task has been found to increase abstract processing in the listener, which seems to lead to higher levels of creativity. How cool, right?! So, it makes perfect sense that these creatives are using background noise to get their creative juices flowing.

And we can do the same thing with our speech students!

Not only do I want my students to be the most effective communicators that they can be, I also want them to be the most creative students that they can be. If this simple background noise tool could help them to get closer to all of that, then it’s totally my job to introduce them to it. So do me a favor, give Coffitivity a try and let me know how it goes. (Oh, and tell ’em I sent ya! Hehe!)

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