The best you can do as a parent, for your child with autism, is constantly support your child in whatever she/he wants to do in terms of music therapy. Even if your child asks for a specific piece of equipment for some time to practice, you should try and give them the opportunity to practise and further help the therapy being provided by music.
Similar to other forms of therapy, most schools have affiliations with music therapists to come and help a child with her/his therapy using music.
Music therapists are also typically available at mostly all music institutions: be it a university or just a music centre. These therapists are highly accessible and can opt to work with a child’s pediatrician and/or occupational therapist to help determine a method and instrument highly suited for the child.
Of course, it is also very important to verify a therapist’s credentials before sending a child for therapy; our website has a robust database of good music therapists. The database is sorted by country, state, and city.
Music therapy is something that can be started at a very young age since children on the autism spectrum do find it difficult to understand and follow commands and communicate non-verbally, and thus, moving forward, have problems in understanding body language. Music from a young age is found to increase the ability to associate some sounds with communication of needs as it helps in connecting the auditory and motor functions of the brain. This, in turn, helps in improvement in understanding of verbal commands. By pairing music with actions, and with repetitive training, the brain pathways which are involved in speech can be taught to function according to the need of the child.
Apart from being a therapy in itself, Music therapy can go hand in hand with other therapies your child may be receiving.
Music therapy helps accelerate the other types of therapy you may have employed for your child, and some studies have speculated that participation in music is a non-threatening way to allow your child experience outside stimuli while avoiding direct human contact.
Music therapy techniques can facilitate and support the urge to communicate; break the tendency of isolation and engage your child in external experiences. It also helps reduce echolalic responses which impedes functional language use; decrease stereotypical movement patterns; teach social skills; and facilitate increased language comprehension.
Through Music Therapy, children with autism learn along with others through gentle play, fun musical activities, and non-invasive games, thus creating a supportive environment where they can bond in a healthy way.
Music therapy helps children with autism learn to relate to others. Passing and sharing instruments with each other, participating in music and movement games, gathering around a single instrument and taking turns to play it.
Learning to listen by paying attention and singing along following the rules and in coordination with others are just a few of the ways music therapy sessions can increase interaction.
Paying attention for a longer durations until an instrument is being played, increases the capacity to hold attention and receive information.
Children who find it difficult to understand and follow commands and communicate non verbally have problems in understanding body language. Music is found to increase the ability to associate some sounds with communication of needs as it helps in connecting the auditory and motor functions of the brain. This, in turn, helps in improvement in understanding of verbal commands.
By pairing music with actions, and with repetitive training, the brain’s pathways which are involved in speech, can be trained to function according to the need of the child.
Classical music or music with a steady rhythm is thought to be the most effective in reducing anxiety in children with autism as the next beat is predictable.
Scientifically, it has been observed, that people with autism can use improvised music to express emotion effectively as well as reducing the stress hormones and an increase in oxytocin, which is thought to be a marker of bonding and trust.
Music Therapy for autism uses music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, social needs of children with autism. This can be done mostly by simulating the senses.
The sensory stimulation and playful nature used in music therapy for autism can help to develop a child’s ability to express emotions, communicate and develop rhythm. There is also evidence to show that speech and language skills can be improved through the stimulation of both hemispheres of the brain via music therapy for autism in children. Children who undergo music therapy for autism also experience improved self-esteem. Moreover, music is known to encourage communicative behavior and interaction with others where they may bond first with an object and then open up to others interacting with their instruments as well. This leads to development of social behaviors which is something that children with autism find difficult to work upon otherwise.
It is also believed that music therapists incorporate a range of music making methods within and through a therapeutic relationship. Music therapy differs from music education and entertainment as it focuses on health, functioning and wellbeing.
Moreover, music therapy provides an enjoyable and fun way for children with autism to learn communication and social skills. It has proven effective at improving autism symptoms in both children and adults. Using music therapy in addition to other forms of therapy for children with autism may improve symptoms while enhancing the results of other therapies.
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