family support

Mewsic Moves Wins an Award!

I am so thrilled to announce that I have received the “Top Music Therapy Writer” award from Autism Parenting Magazine for 2014!  This is a terrific magazine that provides education and support to families of children on the spectrum.  The Autism Parenting Magazine was also proud recipients of the 2014 Gold Award for Online Resources (websites, eMagazines and blogs) in the category of Family/Parenting from the Mom's Choice Awards®. 

Here is a list of some of the articles I contributed to the Autism Parenting Magazine:

I encourage you to check out this excellent magazine!  Also, look for more articles from me this year.  If you have questions or are interested in learning more about music therapy, please reach out to me.  Your question might even inspire me to write my next article!   

Autism Parenting Magazine

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John Mews, BMT, MA, MFTI

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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/

image courtesy of: david castillo dominici/

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.

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Dad, You Too Can Make a Difference!

It seems I get inspired and learn something new from my clients every day.  Most of what I know about Autism I learned from my clients over the past eight years.  Recently, I was especially touched and inspired when a client’s FATHER joined us in the music therapy session.  And he still comes faithfully each week.

Image Courtesy of Ambro by

Image Courtesy of Ambro by

I have been working with this young boy who is quite charming and gifted, but lives with the challenges of Autism, which affects his speech and language.  From the beginning, I saw that the boy’s mother was very involved with her son’s cognitive development.  I see mothers take on this role quite often, so this was somewhat expected.  But rarely do I see dads come to the music therapy session as well.  So having BOTH of this young boy’s parents present during the music therapy made for an incredible session.

When Dad first walked in, I expected to receive a barrage of first-timer questions about music therapy, its effectiveness, and my experience.  Earlier in my career these questions would put me on the defensive, but as my confidence grew over the years, I began to see these questions as a wonderful opportunity to explain the amazing power of music therapy.  

And Dad indeed had a lot of questions.  He was genuinely curious about how this modality could help their boy, whom he obviously loved very much.  As the session progressed, I watched him go from “protective mode” into “enthusiastic supporter” right alongside Mom.  It was incredibly gratifying to see them cheer their boy’s progress as if he had just scored a winning soccer goal!

While this experience was special and moving for me, I believe it was exponentially more beneficial for this boy’s cognitive development.  It was so clear to me that the cheering from Mom and Dad greatly enhanced my effectiveness as a music therapist. It was as if the combination of music and cheering parents generated an exponentially greater benefit.

In a society where both parents are often working full time jobs, it is understandably difficult to have both available to participate in music therapy sessions.  But I am amazed at how quickly we are achieving our therapeutic goals for this boy, which I believe will go along way towards ensuring he grows up to live a happy and productive life.

We are always so appreciative of mothers who work so hard to provide the very best for their child.  But we also want to send a big “thank you” to Dads who are able to take time to be a part of the program as well!  For Dads that are not yet involved, we invite you to join us one day, ask questions and learn about how your participation in music therapy can really make a difference in your child’s life.