Cubbihouse

Reporter: Jasmine Homer

For Susan Wall, the sound of four year old Fabienne singing along to her favourite CD is more than just music to her ears; it's a small miracle. "She's our third of our fourth, four children the other two were speaking by the time they were two and as a parent you look forward to those talkative years with your child."

Four year olds usually have a lot to say, but for most of her life, Fabienne has been trapped in a world without speech. Susan says "The analogy I think of is Fabby's like myself in Spain, trying to join in where I can and using the limited language that I have and using a lot of gestures to get my point across and I think that's how she lives every day."

She has a condition called apraxia. It means her brain has problems sending messages to the muscles that control her mouth, lips and tongue. She can make sounds but it's hard to understand what she means.

Bridget Pieterse is from the Telethon Speech and Hearing Centre. "A lot of children will go on to speak very well and become quite clear but other children will continue to have difficulty into adulthood. It generally is a quite a long, hard road"

So you can imagine Susan's surprise when - out of the blue - Fabienne starting singing along to music in the car one day. It was a huge leap forward for Fabienne.

So who got her singing?

Believe it or not - it was these guys. Well, not this band exactly. You see, by night...

They're known around town for their rock and roll charity gigs. By day, they're Cubbihouse. A group of Mum and Dad musicians who wanted to give something back to the kids.

"We're all parents ourselves, we've been playing a lot of music together for a long time and I guess we started to feel like what else can we do." Will Axten is Cubbihouse's producer. "And so we thought let's actually, why don't we do some kids music." They didn't intend for the music to be a learning tool, "It was about making music that parents would like to listen to. We wanted to give it a chance to actually be played often and for parents not to be screaming and pulling their hair out and reaching for the stop button." but when Will heard about Fabienne's response to the songs on their first CD, he and Susan approached the Telethon Speech and Hearing centre.

With Bridget's input, Cubbihouse produced a second CD. It's music for all kids to listen to but designed specifically to help with early language development. "One of the purposes of the CD was also to help parents help their kids, so by creating a product that sounded good and was based around daily activities, parents could naturally feed the songs into the things that they're doing during the day."

Bridget says "We tried to make sure that we'd included things like symbolic noises and opportunities for the children to hear the words over and over again which is what they need when they're learning language" It worked for Fabienne. Now, other kids will get the same chance. Bridget says "Certainly it is something that we will be encouraging parents to look at and it is something that our playgroup teacher will probably start to use in her groups here."

Further Details

Information about the My Muscial Day CD can be found here: www.my-musical-day.com

The CD is being sold through project partner Bambini Pronto: www.bambinipronto.com.au/Product-my-musical-day-telethon-speech-and-hearing-cd-2962.aspx

Cubbihouse website: www.cubbihouse.com

Telethon Speech & Hearing website: www.tsh.org.au