parents and teachers

How a Music Therapist Adapts Songs to Fit Each Client's Need

I want to share an experience with you from a therapist who used my song, Leaves are Falling Down. click here for song

Nam Kim Kyo, a talented and creative music therapy colleague of mine share with me some of her adaptations of this song. She kindly has allowed me to share these with you to give you some ideas on how you might use this song with children who have special needs.

First check out her art props! She had her clients decorate the foam leaves into smiling life-like characters! What a great idea. Can you tell which one her client made? (You've got to love the big eye expression.)

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Client A:

This client has been diagnosed with Autism and has minimal verbal and communication skills. One of Nam's goals was to teach her client to recognize body parts and colors. Nam presented her client with red, yellow, orange and brown leaves made of foam. She then encouraged her client to match the correct colors while providing verbal, visual and musical prompts. She said her client seemed to be very engaged and was able to match the verbal/musical prompt to the proper leaf colors with success!

Client B:

This client has been diagnosed with Autism, Seizure Disorder, is non-verbal and is considered low functioning. Nam is working on teaching him how to reach, grasp and release, as this client often grabs objects but has trouble letting them go. Nam cleverly adapted the song's activity by turning the drum upside down, then having her client pick up the leaves and drop them into the upside-down drum with a verbal and musical cue! Fun!

These are just two ways in which you can adapt this song to fit an activity. I want to thank Nam for sharing her stories and artwork with us and encourage her to keep up the great work. 

How have you adapted songs to help address any of your child or client's needs? I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or suggestion below. 

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Nam is practicing music therapy specializing in supporting children with autism and teaches music in Vancouver, BC. Canada.

 

 

 

For a download of the song click here.

For a download of the adaptive drum song instructional video click here.

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

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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.

 

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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

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As Seen In Autism Parenting Magazine