Music Therapy for Children Under the Spectrum

What is music therapy?

There are many different types of music therapy. For kids under the Spectrum, music therapy uses interactive musical activities to improve social and communication skills.

Music therapy can give people who can’t easily communicate a way of communicating and interacting. Instead of using words to communicate, they can use a range of musical activities – singing, playing instruments, improvising, songwriting and listening to music. These activities are intended to promote communication and social skills like making eye contact, sharing attention and taking turns.

Therapists can also use musical activities to teach new skills. This happens by pairing new skills with their own musical cues. Once children have learned the skills, they no longer need the cues. The cues are gradually phased out until the skills happen by themselves.

For a child with autism, a music therapist might also write lyrics about specific behavior. The therapist sings the lyrics to the melody of a song the child knows well. The idea is that the child might be better able to focus on sung information than spoken information.

Music is a very basic human response, spanning all degrees of ability/disability. Music therapists are able to meet kids at their own levels and allow them to grow from there. The malleability of music makes it a medium that can be adapted to meet the needs of each individual.

Music is motivating and enjoyable. Music can promote relatedness, relaxation, learning, and self-expression. Music therapy addresses multiple developmental issues simultaneously. The structure and sensory input inherent in music help to establish response and role expectations, positive interactions, and organization.

What Do Music Therapists Do?

Music therapists are trained professionals who accept referrals, observe kids’ behavior and interactions, and assess their behavioral, emotional, psycho-social, cognitive, academic, communication, language, perceptual, sensory, motor, and musical skills.

After designing realistic goals and target objectives to address identified needs, music therapists plan and implement individualized music therapy treatment programs with strategies, procedures, and interventions to develop skills necessary to achieve an optimum level of success or quality of life for your kid.

Music therapists document client responses, conduct ongoing evaluations of progress and performance, and make recommendations for future consideration. Music therapists work with team members and families, providing ways to include successful music therapy techniques that support treatment across all disciplines and in other aspects of your kids’ lives.

“Where words fail, music speaks,” as the writer Hans Christian Andersen put it. Music therapy can open doors, especially for kids under the spectrum.

Music therapy can be considered a safe intervention in pediatric health care to alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life. For neurological disorders like ASD, music therapy should be considered in conjunction with other established therapy approaches. 

Music therapy is an individualized treatment option meaning its interventions vary from person to person. Once these criterias are met, the chance for music therapy to change one's life for the better is limitless.

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