How does Music Therapy help my child with Autism?
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.