Ep. 77: Music interventions in speech development & disorders, with Laura Moorer, M.A., CCC-SLP

speech development

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

January 12, 2021

​Speech disorders affect 11% of children ages 3-6, and over 9% of children ages 7-10. That’s a lot of kids! The majority of these speech disorders in young children have no known cause, and affect boys at significantly higher rates than girls. Laura Moorer, M.A., CCC-SLP, explains why and how music plays an important role in speech disorder treatment.

Laura Moorer, M.A., CCC-SLP


Joining me today from Pittsburgh, PA, is Laura Moorer, Vice President of Programs with the national organization Apraxia Kids. Laura has experience working in public schools, private practice, and Early Childhood Intervention programs and with adults with developmental disorders.  Laura worked at Texas Woman’s University for 26 years teaching undergraduate and graduate courses, providing clinical supervision and directing the Speech-Language Pathology graduate program.


  • Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder that makes it difficult for children to speak. Children with the diagnosis of apraxia of speech generally have a good understanding of language and know what they want to say. However, they have difficulty learning or carrying out the complex sequenced movements that are necessary for intelligible speech.
  • Laura lists four speech disorders seen in children:
    • Articulation disorder
    • Phonological
    • Apraxia of Speech
    • Dysarthria
  • We discuss the difference between speech delays and speech disorders.
  • Apraxia Kids is the largest, most comprehensive website on childhood apraxia; its mission is to help every child reach their highest communication potential.
  • Apraxia Kids does not endorse any one method, program, or approach; they share information so families and professionals can make informed choices, with the goal of increased awareness and accurate diagnosis and appropriate and timely treatment.

 Connect/Other Resources


Laura says: “When I was running my last camp for children with apraxia, we needed a song to use as our good-bye song at the end of each day.  We had music therapy students helping us and one of them recommended the “Na Na Hey Hey Good-bye” chorus.  It was perfect as it is slow, has simple words and an easy melody.  That year, we had a 6 year old child with severe apraxia who only had a couple of words she could say that anyone could understand when camp started.  She loved that song and by the end of the two week camp, she could sing it all on her own and was so proud of herself.  It brought tears to all of our eyes because she would walk down the hall singing it. It was also used a couple of years ago as part of a Target commercial as ‘good buy!’”

Closing Words

Thanks, Laura, for all you do to enhance lives with music, and for sharing your expertise with us today!

In our conversation, I mentioned aphasia, and how music therapy was used to help Gabby Giffords re-learn how to speak after her shooting. This past week was the 10 year anniversary of that horrific shooting, and the New York Times published an opinion piece by Giffords marking that anniversary. It’s called “10 Years Ago, a Gunman Tried to Silence Me,” with the subtitle: “During a week in which our country has endured shock, I’ve thought a lot about resilience and determination.” I’ll link to that article in the show notes, and also link to my interview with Giffords music therapist, Maegan Morrow (back in Ep. 4), where Maegan talks about how music rewires the brain and creates new highways in the brain to detour around damaged areas.

Speaking of politicians, WOW – what a start to 2021 we have had. One person said it well when commenting on the events of January 6: “Well played, December 37, 2020.”

Well, today is January 12; Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is this coming Monday, January 18. You can recognize and celebrate that day by listening to our previous MLK Day Ep. 25 on the Role of Spirituals within African American Culture. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to hit the subscribe/follow/+ button on whatever podcast app you use. This conveniently delivers each new episode to your device each week when it releases on Tuesday mornings. 

Thank you so much for joining me today. Until next week, may your life be enhanced with music.