Music Therapy

How Music Can Make a Difference

Music has rapidly emerged as a crucial tool in autism therapy due to its unique ability to engage both hemispheres of the brain simultaneously, unlike many other activities. This dual stimulation allows therapists to use songs or instruments to facilitate cognitive processes, fostering self-awareness and enhancing social relationships. Music serves as a catalyst for communicative behavior, a significant challenge for autistic children.

Examining the dynamics of a musical band reveals an essential aspect: while instruments interact harmoniously, initially, the player's primary interaction is with their instrument. This aspect is particularly relevant for children grappling with autism, as initiating interaction with others can be challenging. By introducing musical instruments into their therapy, children often form a bond with the object initially, paving the way for subsequent interactions with others who engage with their instruments.

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Our interpretation of music, both in lyrics and in sound can greatly assist in teaching us to communicate. For children with autism, this could mean learning a new word from a song, or better understanding how to act in a social situation based on the messages that a song is expressing. We know that autism can create barriers for children in social settings, but small groups of children listening to music together may feel confident and comfortable enough to comment or sing along with others. Dancing exercises can also help to stimulate our sensory systems, and allow us to enhance fine motor skills.

Studies of early intervention have shown that if we learn together with our autistic children through gentle play, fun musical activities, and non-invasive games then we can create a supportive environment where parents and children can bond in a healthy way. The reason that we use music therapy is to help our autistic children learn to relate to us and to others; other family members may be invited to participate after children become accustomed to one on one sessions. Aside from the sensory of dance, verbal advancement of lyrics and the social dynamic of learning an instrument, rhythm can help to motivate impulsive play time that involves our entire brains and body as one.

Music therapy is beneficial to us all, not just our children, and the sessions usually involve crucial communication building exercise as well as relaxing playtime and motivation. Most therapists will give us the chance to develop these new skills slowly by introducing one thing at a time whether it be singing, dancing, listening, or playing our own sounds on an instrument, but each class or program should offer patience, and a safe learning environment.