It’s a Rap Engaging patients of all ages with rhythmic rhymes, SLP Seana Hollingsworth raps her way through successful sessions. In the Limelight
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In the Limelight  |   January 01, 2015
“Kitty” and Hollingsworth sign “CVC”—consonant-vowel-consonant—which represents the name of their rap duo: CVC Crew.
It’s a Rap
Author Notes
  • Shelley D. Hutchins is content producer/editor for The ASHA Leader. shutchins@asha.org
    Shelley D. Hutchins is content producer/editor for The ASHA Leader. shutchins@asha.org×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Speech, Voice & Prosody / In the Limelight
In the Limelight   |   January 01, 2015
It’s a Rap
The ASHA Leader, January 2015, Vol. 20, 22-23. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.20012015.22
The ASHA Leader, January 2015, Vol. 20, 22-23. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.20012015.22
Name: Seana Hollingsworth
Position: Clinician, Indiana Regional Medical Center, Indiana, Pennsylvania
Hometown: Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
Last summer, the ALS ice bucket challenge unexpectedly went viral and raised millions to fund research for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative neurological disease. When speech-language pathologist Seana Hollingsworth first saw a video of someone getting doused with ice water in the name of ALS, the song “Ice, Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice popped into her head. The result? Hollingsworth, also a professional musician/actor specializing in musical theater, made a YouTube video that uses the song to educate people about the condition.
“I’ve only had two patients with ALS in my career,” Hollingsworth says, “but it’s a devastating diagnosis and I thought it was important to teach people about it.”
Her descriptive video covers the details in plain, albeit rhyming language that most anyone can understand (see the sidebar below for complete lyrics):
Living—while your body dies/Slowly losing the ability to mobilize/Insurance on standby, waiting just to deny/Multiple claims yo’—I don’t know why/Prognosis is two to five years/of keeping all your senses while your muscle disappears/But there is hope, too, so we continue to/look for cures—funded by me and you!
Hollingsworth also incorporates the severity and statistics of those affected—all in perfect synchronization with the well-known rap song. The video has been viewed by thousands of people, one of whom asked Hollingsworth to write a similar rap on bullying for elementary school students.
Connecting through music
This isn’t Hollingsworth’s first informative song parody, however. The SLP frequently uses this musical device to connect with clients, especially teens. A petite blonde who doesn’t look the least bit gangsta’, Hollingsworth says her performances of rap and hip hop never fail to amuse and engage clients of all ages. “I have no fear of embarrassment, plus a creative approach—with children and adults both—and using music and art is a great equalizer,” Hollingsworth explains. “It makes them want to work and practice.”
In addition, the rhythmic pulse of rap and the straightforward rhyming format of the lyrics make this method easy to incorporate into a variety of treatments. Hollingsworth often collaborates with her clients on the songs. She also finds out what music they like and uses it to pique their interest. Her 8-year-old client “Barkley,” for example, often sang the song “What Does the Fox Say?” during sessions instead of paying attention. Hollingsworth turned what had been a distraction into a way to connect with the Barkley and inspire him to achieve his goals.
“I told him in order to write our own version, I needed his help to come up with five to 10 words that began with each short vowel sound,” Hollingsworth explains. She also integrated other goals, such as syllable integrity along with rhyme synthesis and identification, into cowriting new lyrics to Barkley’s favorite song. When their parody was finished, Hollingsworth and Barkley recorded a video using the PhotoBooth program that offers fun backgrounds.
“Now when Barkley struggles to differentiate between short vowel sounds, we refer back to the song,” Hollingsworth says, adding that because he helped write it, his repetition and recall rate is much higher than with any other activity they’ve done.
“Kitty” also overcame a particularly tricky hurdle using rap. Hollingsworth has been working with the ’tween on a range of phonological skills, but rhyming was proving the most difficult to master. “We were able to get it to click by connecting it to music,” Hollingsworth recalls. “Kitty would pick a song she already knew and we would figure out what words in the song rhymed. Then we would create a rhyming word list, make up our own silly short raps with the list, and record them.”
Connecting through art
Music isn’t the only trick in Hollingsworth’s activity bag. Visual art skills from her theater training came in handy with “Eddie,” who had aggressive behavior and difficulty sitting at a table for structured activities. Hollingsworth found out that Eddie loved DVD logos.
“I would let him look up a logo on my iPad or he would bring the DVD to a session,” Hollingsworth says, “then I would break the picture into chunks and draw one section after Eddie completed five tasks. The whole session would continue that way until the full picture was completed. Depending on the picture or the goals we were addressing, sometimes I would draw the outline and he’d earn a turn to color or cut it out.” The solution is so effective that Hollingsworth leaves drawings for whoever works with Eddie when she’s away.
Hollingsworth believes music and art are the most primal forms of communication and can reach every human being in some way. She also credits these media for injecting fun into sessions and giving clients a sense of accomplishment from creating a tangible product that can be shown and shared.
“In my experience, music and art can break barriers that spoken language often cannot,” Hollingsworth concludes, “so they are key tools in my box of tricks for getting a student to open up, pay attention, invest in the session and feel satisfied at the end of it.”
ALS Rap

Here are Seana Hollingsworth’s full lyrics (to the tune of “Ice, Ice Baby”).

Yo, ALS, let’s kick it!

A’right, stop, collaborate and listen

Ice bucket challenge on a stone cold mission

ALS, in case you didn’t know this is

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Will we find a cure? Yo, we don’t know

But we can’t fund our research without some major dough

Is it extreme to dump some ice on your noggin’?

No, but now you’re listening, so haters don’t be doggin’!

Ice … in a bucket is chillin’, but ALS is an even nastier villain

Deadly, not a trivial issue

Slowly losing fuel to your vital muscle tissue

Love it or leave it, this challenge gets press

And up until now, many couldn’t care less

Lou Gehrig had a problem and we have yet to solve it

So check out this site, there’s a lot to get involved wit

[holding sign reading: www.alsa.org]

Now that I’ve got your attention

Here’s some facts on ALS that I really wanna’ mention

Quick to the point, to the point no fakin’

Think it can’t affect you, then your brain is mistaken

ALS—doesn’t care if you’re wealthy,

black or white female or otherwise healthy

It’s an equal opportunity offender

It don’t see race, it doesn’t see gender

Living—while your body dies

Slowly losing the ability to mobilize

Insurance on standby, waiting just to deny

Multiple claims, yo I don’t know why

Prognosis is two to five years

Of keeping all your senses while your muscle disappears

But there is hope, too, so we continue to

Look for cures—funded by me and you!

Treatments range from pills to augmentation

Trying to prolong and improve the duration

But all this doesn’t change the statistic

That two of every hundred deaths a year are from this bull@!#t

Ready—for the incidence and prevalence?

Most of you are nodding, but don’t even know the difference

The incidence: two out of every hundred thousand

The prevalence in the USA is 30,000

5,600 U.S. cases every year, bro’

Does that sound trivial, no, I didn’t think so

Bucket to bucket, got ALS trending

Maybe we can fund ideas that give a happy ending

So get on the scene, you know what I mean

Hit the ALS website and show ’em some green

If there was a bucket, yo I’d chill it

Dump it on some ALS and then refill it

Ice, Ice Baby…

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January 2015
Volume 20, Issue 1