Autism is a developmental disorder which primarily affects social, verbal and cognitive abilities. It can affect the way we communicate with others or build relationships with them.
Music Therapy for autism uses music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, social needs of children with autism.
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 rhythmic movement.
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.
Music encourages communicative behavior and encourages interaction with others, where they may bond first with the 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.
What does Music Therapy Do?
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 of 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 stretch of time until an instrument is playing increases the capacity to hold attention and receive information.
Communication with the help of Music Therapy
Children finding 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 pathways which are involved in speech can be taught to function according to the need of the child.
Dealing with Anxiety with the help of Music Therapy
Apart from the involvement in imitation through dance movements, verbal advancement through lyrics and the social involvement through learning an instrument, rhythm of the music can help to motivate impulsive play and hyperactivity. 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.
Relationships and Emotions
Research has shown 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.