Providing music therapy for children with autism is beneficial. “What is exciting is that music is often ‘the thing’ that reaches a child with autism, and connects him or her to others,” states Dr. Tracy Richardson. “It is not just a way to shape or control ‘behaviors’ but it is a way to reach in to the essence of that child and say ‘Here I am! Let’s be together in the music!’”
According to Richardson, professor and director of Music Therapy at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, “Children with autism often have an affinity for music. A child might have a song that he sings to calm himself or perhaps he has a type of music (such as Disney songs) that he is drawn to. Because of this, music therapists have a natural and often non-threatening avenue for communication with that child. A child may sing words that she will not speak, which then is the start of communication between the child and music therapist. If I sing ‘Old MacDonald had a farm…. E I E I…’ the child may respond with ‘O’ (if this is a song she is familiar with). It takes little effort for her to respond, and the structure of the music makes it easy to do so.”
Dr. Blythe LaGasse has worked with children on the autism spectrum (ASD) for many years and also coordinates the Music Therapy program at Colorado State University. “Many persons on the autism spectrum show increased interest in musical stimuli, making music therapy an excellent tool to facilitate achieving their cognitive, social, communication, or motor goals,” she says.
Benefits of Music Therapy for Children with ASD
Music therapy is useful for:
- facilitating relationships, learning, self-expression, and communication.
- improving attention span, including gaining and maintaining attention.
- helping children learn to follow directions.
- helping children learn to express feelings appropriately, including instances where verbal language isn’t used.
- facilitating social skills including sharing, interacting appropriately with other children, taking turns, and responding in an acceptable manner.
- encouraging motivation.
- improving verbal skills including rate, volume, and pacing of speech.
- * facilitating limit-setting.
- helping individuals process sensory information.
- building frustration tolerance including the ability to adjust to changes in routine.
- developing and improving gross motor skills such as directionality, balance, coordination, and walking.
- developing and improving fine motor skills including grasping, use of the wrist and fingers, and facial movements such as winking.
How long does it take to observe change? According to Brittany Neuser, a music therapist who graduated from Western Michigan University, “In some cases, benefits are immediately evident and in others, observable benefits may not emerge until after more long-term exposure to music therapy treatment.”
According to the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), “People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often show a heightened interest and response to music, making it an excellent therapeutic tool for working with them… music can promote relatedness, relaxation, learning, and self-expression.”
Do you or someone you know have a child with autism that can benefit from music therapy? Call us or email us today to schedule a consultation.
https://majoringinmusic.com/music-therapy-for-children-with-autism/ Retrieve on March 4, 2019.