Autism Parenting Magazine Lists Music Therapy/Mewsic Moves as a Resource!

I've had the privilege of writing multiple articles for the autism parenting magazine over the past few years. They have covered many great topics and have been an amazing resource for parents, educators and therapists over the years. Some of my articles they've published are:

Last year the Autism Magazine also awarded us with the Top Music Therapy Writer for their magazine in 2014!

Just last month they have created an online resource for parents and I am so excited to announce that Mewsic Moves has made the list! We are so grateful to the Autism Parenting Magazine for all they do for families across the country, online and around the world. Thank you for being such a great tool and resource for so many. 

You can find the resource list by clicking HERE.

You can also get your FREE copy of the Autism Parenting Magazine by clicking HERE.

Please share this resource with families of children with special needs and others who may benefit from any of these resources. 

             Let's Stay in Touch!

 

For FREE songs, videos and tips on how to support children with special needs through music click here.

Please share, like and leave your comments below as we love to hear from you.

A Music Therapists Adaptation of "Leaves are Falling Down"

A music therapist will often be called upon to come up with a song in the spur of the moment to facilitate a positive therapeutic intervention.  Over the years, I’ve built up quite a collection of these “on-the-spot” creations to help children with special needs relax and learn special skills.  It occurred to me a while back that other music therapists might find these songs useful, so over the past year I recorded some and wrote out the musical score.

Jennifer Hezoucky, MT-BC, Jacobsburg, OH.

I recently I received a very touching email and newsletter from Jennifer, a music therapist in Jacobsburg, Ohio who bought my fall song, “Leaves are falling down.” She shared with me a beautiful video of how she used the song with young pre-school children.  Here is what she wrote:

What's Happening this Fall!

“At Creative Learning Daycare my preschool music class has been singing songs about fall. What a great way to incorporate learning when you have a seasonal theme! I love searching for new songs to use with my groups and I came across a song written by John Mews who is a music therapist and owner of Mewsic Moves. His song is called "Leaves are Falling Down.” There are many ways to use this song but I chose to use my new NSL 30" drum and scarves. Instead of using the stand that the drum came with I chose to set it on the floor so that the children can sit around the drum and experience playing one instrument as a group. I placed colored scarves in the middle of the drum (preferably fall colors) and held up each scarf as we sang what color was picked up. This was a great activity to introduce group drumming and color recognition.”

This song was created and written by John Mews, music therapist and owner of Mewsic Moves. I am always looking for songs to use with my music students. This one was fun to sing while drumming!

Click on the video to the right to watch how Jennifer adapted this song on the gathering drums with pre-school aged children.

Watching her video with those beautiful children really warmed my heart. Seeing the wonderfully creative way Jennifer used my song to create that moment made me feel very glad that I’d recorded it.

I love your stories, and am so grateful when you share them with me!  Thank you Jennifer for your amazing work and for sharing this beautiful video.

To view Jennifer’s webpage go to: http://lifesongtherapy.com

Now that you get a sense of how this song can be used in creative ways I would like to offer each reader a discount on this song!

Now you can get a 50% discount of “Leaves are Falling Down” through the end of November. (Offer expires November 30th)

Click on the "buy now!" button to the right and enter this code at checkout: LEAVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For FREE songs and tips on how to support children with special needs through music  Click Here!

Let's Stay in Touch!      

 

Please share, pin, like and leave your comments below as I love to hear from you!

Blogs RSS

Mewsic Moves in the Media - The Acorn

 Mewsic Moves in the Media - The Acorn

Mewsic Moves in the Media - The Acorn

On August 13th, 2014, I had the opportunity to announce the Glee Choir in front of Calabasas City Council. I was honored to stand before the council members and share my passion and joy in providing music therapy programs for families of children with special needs, especially the Glee Choir program.

A few days after the meeting, I was thrilled to receive a request for an interview from Sylvie Belmond, who is a reporter for The Acorn newspaper.

Sylvie had lots of questions, and we talked for almost an hour.  She wanted to know more about music therapy and the Glee Choir program that I had created. At the end of our interview, Sylvie said she felt it was important to let others know the importance of music therapy and how it is very different from music lessons.  A few weeks later, Sylvie’s article appeared in the September 4, 2014 edition of The Acorn.

I am very grateful to Sylvie for writing such a wonderful article, and to The Acorn for publishing it. I also want to thank Debi Frankle, MFT/Owner of Calabasas Counseling and Grief Center, Calabasas and Ping Ho, Founder – UCLArts and Healing for contributing to the story.

Credits to: Sylvie Belmond – Reporter at The Acorn

www.theacorn.com

Click here to read the article: http://www.theacorn.com/news/2014-09-04/Community/Glee_Choir_for_adults_with_special_needs.html


Let's Stay in Touch!


Please share, pin, like and leave your comments below as we love to hear from you!

For FREE songs, videos and tips on how to support children with special needs through music click here.

Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

Parents: This 5-Minute Ritual Can Change Your Life!

Parents of children with special needs usually adhere to a strict schedule of appointments that follow a set routine.  But sometimes even the best-planned schedule will require last minute change ups, and when this happens, chaos often follows, which can last throughout the rest of the day. 

Athletes use a visualizing process called, “mental rehearsal” to help them achieve their best performance. Have you ever tried visually planning your day first thing in the morning?  

I promise you that if you practice this 5-minute ritual on a regular basis, you’ll find you're mentally better prepared for any eventuality, your general outlook improves, and you’ll feel much more grounded when things do go “off the rails.” 

There are 5 simple steps to this ritual, one for each minute.  I suggest you do this as soon as you wake up when your mind is in its most relaxed state. (This doesn’t work if you oversleep your alarm of course!)

First Minute: 

Find a quiet place and breath deep. (Maybe play some slow classical music as background to help you relax) One of my favorite places to do this is in the shower.

Second Minute:

When you are feeling relaxed and calm, mentally start listing things for which you are grateful (e.g., I am grateful for my family, I am grateful for my health, etc.)

Third Minute:

Mentally forgive yourself and give yourself permission to make mistakes today. You can even visualize yourself in a stressful situation and guide yourself to a relaxing place of peace and resolution.

Fourth Minute:

Visualize your day's schedule and imagine that each item on your list is working out perfectly for you and your family.

Fifth Minute:

Acknowledge and appreciate that you are doing your best, your partner is doing their best, and your children are doing their best.

End with a deep breath and give thanks for the gift of Life.

Once you complete this morning ritual, you can go about your day knowing and trusting that things will work out for the best. You’ve given yourself some time and space to mentally plan as well as to guide your subconscious into planning and preparing your day to be a success.

Here are some books I recommend to parents who have children with special needs.  These are great resources to help you find balance – taking time for yourself and your children to create a happier and healthier home life.

For FREE songs, videos and tips on how to support children with special needs through music click here.


Let's Stay In Touch!


Please share, pin, like and leave your comments below as we love to hear from you!

Image Courtesy of Stock Images/freedigitalphotos.net

Top 10 Christmas Gifts For Children With Special Needs

Top 10 Christmas Gifts for Children With Special Needs(600).jpg

At this time of year, parents often ask for Christmas gift suggestions for their child with special needs. For these parents, it can be quite challenging to find the right gift - a gift that is fun, not over-stimulating, and has some therapeutic value.

So in time for the holidays season, I have created a top-10 list of my current favorites. I have also included its potential therapeutic value under each link so you can see which gift would be best suited for your child. (Click on each item to view its description)

1. Sounds Shapes

  • Gross motor skills
  • Impulse control
  • Sensory input

2.  Cabasa

  • Fine motor skills
  • Stimulation and sensory needs

3. Ocean Drum

  • Relaxation
  • Sensory needs
  • Impulse control

4. Melodica

  • Fine motor skills
  • Oral and breath control
  • Eye-hand coordination

5. Ukulele

  • Fine motor skills
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Gross motor skills

6. Kazoo

  • Oral motor skills
  • Breath control

7. Legos

  • Fine motor skills
  • Joint attention skills
  • Task focus
  • Sharing
  • Turn-taking skills
  • Problem-solving skills

8. Eggspressions

  • Social skills
  • Emotional awareness
  • Emotional Development

9. Trampoline

  • Sensory input/needs
  • Gross motor skills
  • Balance/coordination skills 

10. Dizzy Disc

  • Sensory input/needs
  • Gross motor skills
  • Balance/coordination skills

 

I hope you discovered something new and useful from this list. If you have any toys that you would like to add to this list, please add it in the comment section below.

Happy Holidays!

John Mews, MA, MTA

For FREE songs, videos and tips on how to support children with music click here.

 

Let's Stay in Touch!

Why is it Important to Teach Your Child to be Thankful?

Does you child have a lot of expensive things, such as an iPad, Xbox, Nintendo DS, DSI, 2DS, or an iPhone even?

BoyipadbyAmbro.jpg

If so, did they receive these gifts as a reward? Or have you been showering these expensive gifts on them simply because they are your child? And when they received these gifts, did they express their gratitude?

Over the years I have seen children with the most expensive shoes, gadgets, and clothes. Many of these children had severe behavioral problems, like acting out in school and/or showing disrespect for their parents and teachers. I asked the parents how they received these gifts, and I found that often these gifts were given for no particular reason - not even because it was their birthday or Christmas.

I believe that children who aren't taught to express gratitude will face many difficulties later in life. Positive psychology demonstrates that the more we are grateful, the happier and more fulfilled our lives will be. Betsy Brown Braun , a child development and behavior specialist, states that not only is it mannerly to say "thank-you," but that thankfulness is connected with living a happier, more resilient, empathic and self-fulfilled life. 

I had the good fortune of being born into a very giving family. Yes, things were given to me when I didn't necessarily deserve them. But fortunately my parents also taught me to be grateful for the gifts I had received. 

Teaching children to be thankful can be a challenge because as they naturally develop their sense-of-self, they tend to become self-centered. But, a child that has learned to be grateful will have better social skills, empathy and self worth.

As a music therapist I have taught children to be thankful through music.  I was inspired by the season of Thanksgiving to write a song entitled, "I am Thankful." This song includes two tracks, one with vocals and one without so you can sing along and insert the things for which you and your child are thankful. The song also comes with a lyrics sheet and chords so you can play along if you are musically inclined. One mother told me she played this song to her two young boys and was excited to hear them going through the house singing about the things they were thankful for! 

Here is an easy way to teach your child to be grateful. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am offering a 50% DISCOUNT on this song through the end of November. All you need to do is click on the picture to the right and type in this code when you place your order: THANKS

Get it soon as it is only available until November 30th! And share with as many people as you can!

Gratefully yours and Happy Thanksgiving!

John Mews

Let's Stay in Touch !

Help Your Child With Autism by Changing Their Routine

stressmeterbystuartmiles.jpg

 Routines are important for most of us. We typically wake up at the same time, find the keys in the same place, and all the dishes are properly put away. We create routines and consistency in our lives to reduce stress and to keep things going smoothly.

This is particularly important for children with autism because they process information in a different way than most children.  Keeping things predictable can help reduce stress, filter out distractions, and help them to focus on the task at hand.

But what happens if our keys go missing? Or we find our car has a dead battery? What would we do? Panic? Fortunately most of us have developed healthy coping skills to deal effectively in situations like this.

I’ve seen therapists as well as parents create strict routines for their children with autism, and they keep those routines going for far too long! I often ask, what happens if the school bus is late? What happens if the fire alarm goes off  at school? What would your child learn from these strict routines about dealing with the unpredictable things in life?

Yes, I agree, whenever we start something new, we must first adhere to a strict schedule to eliminate distractions and keep the stress level down.  But I do believe that once your child has learned this routine and can manage it without stress, then we need to start implementing changes to their routine.

For example, I begin and end each session with the exact same tune, but with different words (“Hello” and “Good-bye”). Depending on the child’s functioning level, I will slowly incorporate a few changes to the lyrics and sometimes the order of which the song is placed in the schedule to see if there is a response to this change.  This can be a powerful tool in helping teach a child with autism how to cope when things don’t go exactly as they might expect. Then we explore options about what to do next, where we can go, how we can change things, what our options are and most importantly, how to manage the stress caused by the change.

How are you helping your child cope with changes in their routines or in everyday life? I hope you find this helpful and are encouraged to experiment by implementing subtle changes into your child’s routine.  This will better equip them to deal with the realities of life. Every moment something changes and something is different. Their success in life depends upon how well are they able to cope with change.

I’d love to hear how you incorporate subtle changes into your child’s daily routine to help them cope with change. Please leave a comment below.

Here are some resources I recommend to help you and your child cope with change.

 

Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

Click Here For FREE songs, videos and tips! 

5 Helpful Tips to Make Your Child's I.E.P Meeting More Tolerable Than Terrifying

 

For most parents, Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings are stressful and sometimes feel like a waste of time.  Here are some helpful tips that should help you get the most out of your child’s IEP.

 

boybooksbypotowizard.jpg

 

1. Focus on your child’s strengths

 

Rarely have I participated in an IEP that uses the child’s strengths as a focal point. I believe that it is critical to use the child’s strengths as one of the building block for success. Wouldn’t you find it demoralizing if someone only focused on your areas of weakness and was constantly trying to fix you?

2. Your child needs a break area/quiet place to go to  

Most children need a break to avoid becoming over stimulated. Take time to familiarize yourself with the break/rest areas available in your child’s school, and see if they fit his/her needs. You may be surprised by some of the so-called “quiet” areas that schools consider to be the break/rest area. For example, one school I worked with used a noisy high-traffic lunchroom as their break room. Not a great idea, right?

3. I is for Individual! Your child’s IEP should be customized for your child’s individual needs

This should be common sense but many IEP’s can be hurriedly cut and pasted from another child’s IEP, or even from your child’s previous school year. Things change over time, and your child’s specific needs will change over time as well. Insist that the IEP be customized for your child’s current needs and learning capabilities.

  4. Your child’s goals should be measurable!

How will anyone know if your child has achieved his or her goal(s) or not? Should the goals be re-evaluated? This is where measurement tools are very useful and important. Does your school have up-to-date tools to measure your child’s successes? If so, how and when are they being used? Be sure that your goals can be easily measured and observed. Otherwise, you will never know if your child is successfully achieving his or her goals or not. It may be as simple as asking your child’s teacher for a brief monthly progress report.

5. Be an ally! Your child needs you on the team!

Most IEP meetings I have been involved with started out as an emergency meeting. Schools and/or parents often wait until there is a serious problem, and then call an emergency meeting in an attempt to fix the problem. I’ve often sat uncomfortably witnessing both parents and teachers lashing out at each other in frustration. To avoid this, I believe it is very important that parents build a strong relationship with their child’s teacher and school administrators as early as possible. Keep in mind that teachers have an incredible amount of responsibility, and it’s tough to know and remember everything that is in your child’s IEP. Helping to educate them can be a great relationship builder and will go a  long way toward ensuring your child’s success in school.

Here are some books I recommend.

 

Image courtesy of potowizard/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Click Here to Join our Mailing List for: FREE songs, videos, and tips! 

As Seen In Autism Parenting Magazine

Using Music to Help Children Develop and Strengthen Impulse Control

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a parking lot and your child keeps wandering away and you shout “STOP!” for fear they’ll get hit by another car? And their response was more like you said “RUN!” and they just bolt away from you? This might seem like a dangerous situation to you, but to your child it’s a fun game!

Children at a young age learn to play chase with family. They often run around the coffee table shouting, “I’m going to get you” or “I’m coming after you.” To a young toddler this is a fun interactive bonding game and they haven’t yet learned to differentiate dashing at home vs. dashing in public!

To change this, try making “STOP” a fun and playful game!

I would often see a child running down the hallway after a session.  The parent screams “STOP” and what do you expect? Yes! The child continues running around laughing! Then you feel like you have no control and are tempted to put them on a short leash right?  Well, you don’t need to. Here is one of the songs that I use to make the “STOP” game easy and fun, and you’ll find it works anywhere. 

I use the song “This is the way” and at the end we all stop…and freeze.  This is very important for young toddlers, and particularly children with special needs, because they often have difficulty with controlling their impulses. Working on these impulses will help your child gain self control and you will find improvements at home, at school, and in public places. STOP now means STOP and its FUN to STOP!

It may take several tries to learn the rules and enjoy playing the STOP game.  Remember to stay positive and reward your child when they do STOP and FREEZE!

Adding music and play makes learning fun for everyone!

The video on the right shows two ways in which I used music to develop and enhance impulse control. 

Join our mailing list for FREE videos on Making The Most With Mewsic

 

 Image courtesy of Chris Roll/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Chris Roll/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Video Blog: Making The Most With Mewsic:

Here are some musical adaptations on how you can help develop and strengthen impulse control in children.

Five Tips for Making Back to School Easier For Families of Children with Special Needs

Can you believe it? I know many parents are cheering right now that its back to school time. However, I know those of you with children with special needs are probably feeling something quite the opposite.  Back to school time can mean lots of anxiety, tantrums, and stress!

 

 image courtesy of: david castillo dominici/FreeDigitsPhotos.net

image courtesy of: david castillo dominici/FreeDigitsPhotos.net

Here is a short list of things you can do to help your child transition back to school:

1.Begin Introducing Day/Night Schedules

          Your child has been on summer vacation mode and it will be a challenge to quickly get them into a different routine. So get a jump on it by gradually setting earlier bedtimes each night, and reintroducing regular morning rituals such as waking earlier, combing hair, and brushing teeth.   You might even take them for a short drive in the car afterwards to get them used to leaving the house. 

2. Start Introducing School Routines at Home

            From a teacher’s perspective, the challenge is getting children to pay attention and do their homework.   You can help by giving your child small tasks at home to practice, such as spelling a word or staying seated while working on a puzzle.  This will help them get used to staying in their seats for longer periods of time.

3. Take Practice Runs

         After introducing some school morning rituals, why not actually take your child to school?  This will help familiarize them with the trip and they’ll be less anxious and better prepared for that first day of school.   

4. Take Pictures

            Take pictures of the school, the classroom and the teacher on the first day (with permission of course).  You can use these at home as visual aids to help your child understand the order in which things are scheduled to happen over the course of the day.  This should greatly reduce anxiety about the “unknown.”

5. Make it Fun and Musical for Everyone

            While practicing these transitions and routines it’s easy to get frustrated or anxious, so I’d recommend turning them into a game or a musical.  You can make transitions easy by singing while you are doing them. For example, if it’s time to brush our teeth, you might sing “Brush our Teeth, Brush our Teeth” to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”  You don’t need to be a music genius.  Just be creative and make it fun!

I hope these tips will help you start off the school year on a positive note!  Best of luck and please click the links below for more FREE tips and hints on keeping your home, life and family relationships healthy and vibrant.

Join our FREE Email Mailing List

 

Music Therapists Sharing Favourite Apps

 image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

At our annual MTABC (Music Therapy Association of BC) business meeting I was struck by something that one of the presenters said.  “We need to focus on abundance and less on lack," she said.  Those words have stayed with me all week.

I was there to present my favourite iPad apps and how they can be very helpful tools to music therapists. There truly is an abundance of great apps helpful for music therapists, and some of these are even free. I was happy to share my favorites, and to explain why I found them to be so useful. 

I'd like to continue sharing the abundance of these great tools, so I thought I'd post my favorites here too. I invited all music therapists in attendance to post their favorites as well. That way everyone benefits!

Here is a list of our favourite apps for music therapists from MTABC. Many of these apps can be used across multiple populations. I have done my best to put them in categories according to appropriate population benefit.

Enjoy!

Multiple Populations:

iGuitar 

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/iguitar/id443419246?mt=8

iAutoharp 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/iautoharp/id304091719?mt=8

Noteshelf 

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/noteshelf/id392188745?mt=8

Celtic Harp 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/celtic-harp/id371900975?mt=8

Accordeon 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/accordeon/id364741802?mt=8

Virtuoso 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/virtuoso-piano-free-3/id391994966?mt=8

Garageband 

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/garageband/id408709785?mt=8

Recorder HD 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/recorder-hd/id364613376?mt=8

History of Rock 

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/history-of-rock/id468650707?mt=8

History of Jazz 

 https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/history-jazz-interactive-timeline/id411521458?mt=8

Small Talk Phonemes

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/smalltalk-phonemes/id384170714?mt=8

Adults:  Mental Health, Brain Injury, Geriatrics and 
Speech and Language

Trivia Tunes

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/trivia-tunes-music-quiz-radio/id407757286?mt=8

3D Brain 

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/3d-brain/id331399332?mt=8

Small Talk Dysphagia 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/smalltalk-dysphagia/id337184701?mt=8

Small Talk Oral Motor 

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/smalltalk-oral-motor-exercises/id337145605?mt=8

Toddlers:

Baby Chords 

https://itunes.apple.com/ne/app/baby-chords-lite/id408506566?mt=8

Piano Pals 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/piano-pals/id395388472?mt=8

Children/Teens:

Songify – Turn Speech Into Music 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/songify/id438735719?mt=8

iXylophone

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ixylophone-lite-play-along/id329934119?mt=8

Dust Buster

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/piano-dust-buster-song-game/id502356539?mt=8

Wild Chords

https://itunes.apple.com/en/app/wildchords/id453707538?mt=8

Pic Card Maker

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/picture-card-maker-for-communication/id419089000?mt=8

Endless ABC

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/endless-alphabet/id591626572?mt=8

Vid Rhythm

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/vidrhythm/id457548851?mt=8

Harmonizer

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/harmonizer/id393762975?mt=8

Magic Piano

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/magic-piano/id421254504?mt=8

Falling Stars

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/falling-stars-by-trident-vitality/id439921044?mt=8

Glee Karaoke

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/glee-karaoke/id360736774?mt=8

Beatwave

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/glee-karaoke/id360736774?mt=8

Music Therapists: Helpful Tools

Turboscan – quickly scan multi page documents into high-quality PDFs

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/turboscan-quickly-scan-multipage/id342548956?mt=8

DeepDish GigBook – Organizing all your songs

https://itunes.apple.com/en/app/deepdish-gigbook/id373676401?mt=8

Capo

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/capo/id386963803?mt=8

iReal b – Music Book and Play along

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/ireal-b-music-book-play-along/id298206806?mt=8

NoteStar

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/notestar/id474599224?mt=8