Music as Therapy for Children with Autism

Published: 01st June 2010
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Music therapy is a great way for children with developmental disabilities to communicate. The healing power of music therapy activities facilitates positive behavior changes. Each music therapy session is carefully planned, carried out and evaluated on a patient by patient basis. The sessions can include listening to music, creating music, playing an instrument or just moving to the beat.



Music as therapy has a significant and positive influence on children with autism. It gives them a chance to experience non-threatening outside stimulation. Music therapy for children with autism is tailored to the individual - what works with one child may not work with another and therapists understand this well.



Music therapy sessions improve socio-emotional development. When children with autism begin to develop relationships, they can ignore or even reject social contact with others. The therapy allows them to end social withdrawal because the instrument is presented as a fascinating object instead of a threatening one. It offers an initial point of contact between the child and the therapist which does not exist with other individuals in the child's life.



Parents understand the unique difficulties of educating children with autism. Music therapy opens special doors of communication between the child and his or her world. The session will stimulate the mental process of comprehending, conceptualizing and symbolizing. The therapist can use an instrument to establish a communicative relationship between the patient's behavior and a specific sound. Sounds make it much easier for children with autism to recognize correct and incorrect behaviors, as sounds are simpler to process than verbal exchanges.



Wind instruments in particular help children with autism communicate. These instruments make the child aware of the way his or her jaw, teeth, lips and tongue function. Playing an instrument mirrors many of the functions required for speech vocalizations.



Music therapy sessions also allow children with autism to feel a special kind of emotional fulfillment. Many of these children lack the ability to respond to stimuli that would otherwise allow them to enjoy emotional changes; however, they respond very well to musical stimuli. Many music therapists believe this is the case because music provides the child with an emotional environment that is free from fear. Children with autism are given a safe place to express themselves and learn more about who they actually are. Children are encouraged to make noise, bang on instruments, shout and jump - anything that lets them freely express themselves and experience satisfaction.



Equally important, music therapy for children with autism teaches social skills. It improves language comprehension, encourages the desire to communicate and makes creative self-expression possible while it reduces non-communicative speech. Music therapy has even been shown to decrease echolalia, or uncontrolled instant repetition of words spoken by another person.



Autism is generally discovered in children three years of age or younger, which makes music therapy the perfect treatment. Children with autism generally have a high aptitude for music and are very talented. If you have a loved one with autism, consider the benefits of music therapy. Take advantage of this truly helpful way to communicate with your loved one.


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