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Heber girl teaches her brother with Down syndrome to speak through music

By Heather Simonsen, KSL TV  |  Posted Feb 8th, 2018 @ 7:01pm


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HEBER — Lydia Jones plays her guitar for little brother Bo, who has Down syndrome. At 2-year-old, he was still nonverbal. But when Lydia started singing "You Are My Sunshine" to him over and over again, something started to happen.

"She goes, 'Listen.' And she plays it and stops and he says, 'Happy,'" said Amanda Gray, Bo and Lydia's mom, who lives in Heber.

Experts say music "fires up" the brain.

"Music can oftentimes be one of the most powerful ways to connect with kids who have disabilities," said Amanda Maestro-Scherer, music therapist at Primary Children's Hospital.

Research shows music enhances the brain and opens doors other therapies can't, according to the World Journal of Psychiatry.

"It can be used to help a child fall asleep, or help them through a pain crisis. It can also help a child work on speech function. It can help with motor function," Maestro-Scherer said.

She said music improves cognitive, motor, and speech skills. It's also an emotional outlet for kids. Bo's mother says it calms him and helps him focus.

"Now we're up to 12 words and all of them are through music," Gray said.

Primary Children's Hospital has a music therapy room called Sophie's Place. Patients and families enjoy listening stations, a recording studio, and a variety of musical instruments.

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