Manchester Sensory Support Service works with families of children with visual and hearing needs in Manchester from birth until they leave school. Music in Hospitals & Care musicians visit the babies and toddlers group in the community room at Asda Eastlands around once a month.
Leah has been coming to the sessions with her 17 month old son, Amari, for over a year.
Deaf and hearing impaired children being exposed to music, especially in this small group, is very important. They can interact with and touch the instruments to feel the vibrations.
“There was one little boy today who has only just had cochlear implants in. So he has not heard for the first 18 months of his life. He has been finding household noises like the vacuum cleaner quite frightening, but today with the music he loved every noise he heard,” says Linda Hoburn, Family Liaison Officer.
“Parents often struggle to keep hearing aids in as the children want to take them out and play with them. But when they are listening to the music, they aren’t messing with them and really start to experience the benefit. And once they start using that hearing, their language and learning that have been delayed start to come on too.”
Leah: “Amari is very behind in speech compared to friends his age, who are already singing songs. He’s just not quite at that level yet. But he loves the double bass, the maracas and the bells, so I do think he will be a little musician when he’s older.”
Linda: “Parents have to go through lots of different emotions. They fear that their child will never lead a fully balanced life. So getting them into these groups is so important, as they get support from other parents who are also on that journey. And to have something special like the music to bring them together is wonderful.
It’s the only time the children really engage with music. If you put it on the telly, or the radio, or sing it yourself, they might engage for a minute but quickly lose interest. When it’s live music, they really start to listen and get so many benefits from it.”