March is music therapy awareness month and I would like to highlight some of the reasons why music therapy is effective especially for children with autism.
1. It is multi-sensory
Music is appealing to most of our senses, which makes music therapy unique in that we can work on multi goals simultaneously. For example, a drumming exercise helps with eye-hand coordination, eye contact, motor and impulse control.
2. It is fun, safe and engaging
Music therapy provides a fun, safe and engaging environment for children with autism to explore and play. It also provides many opportunities for successful outcomes which helps to builds self-esteem and increases motivation.
3. It is structured and predictable
Music therapy can provide a structured and safe environment for children with autism to explore. Music that has a lot of repetition is predictable, which makes learning much easier for children with autism. The musical repetition helps them to self-regulate, because they know what is coming up next.
4. It is processed in all areas of the brain
Recent research shows that when we listen to music, all areas of the brain are lit up. Music therapists have known this for a long time, but now have the science to back it up. Music can help with speech and communication challenges, for social connection, for emotional regulation, motor control, and many other things.
5. It facilitates communication
Perhaps you’ve heard that “music is the universal language.” Taking this literally, we can use music in therapy to increase non-verbal communication through improvisation. Children with autism connect to music to express their feelings, emotions, and life stories. The interplay between the music therapist and child with autism is done in a non-threatening way, opening up many channels of communication.
Please feel free to share and comment on how you find music therapy to be effective for children with autism.