From Early Intervention On
What happens in a session?
First, the therapist reaches out to the child to connect using her singing voice to engage the child in his/her world and invite connection. As the relationship grows, instruments are used to accompany singing, singing bowls may be used to support relaxation and healing. Invitations to play and engage draw out the child’s inner resources. Know that inside your child wants to engage, and struggles to communicate that.
Songs and instruments are engaged with playfully in conjunction with your child’s toys and regular environmental objects. Stories are created, drawing on your child’s interest and accompanied with instruments. Favorite songs become tools for learning other skills. Sessions are shaped to meet your child’s needs each time. One session may be high energy and another more relaxing, depending on your child’s abilities and needs at the time.
Why is music therapy so good for autistic children?
- The autistic child learns to engage, relate and learn through songs, instruments and play in the way most suitable for their brain’s sensory processing and functioning.
- The child receives attention to her whole being: physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual.
- The child leads the way by revealing where they are ready to learn. The therapist’s job is to pick up the cues and provide the technique.
- Through singing comes support learns language and self-expression.
- Because the whole brain, including the executive function, is activated, global learning and development occur.
- The child engages in creative play!
- The child relaxes and develops a healthier sense of self.
- The child feels cared for and supported.
Music therapy is done directly with the child. Parents are also invited to participate, especially in the early stages, as it can help support the parent-child relationship. Imagine: A four year old climbs into his mom’s lap and snuggles for the first time while listening to a song about him relating to a toy!
Sessions are done in your home.
How it Works
All children have a natural draw to music. From the beginning of life, we listen to our parents’ voices for the melodic pitches and contours we heard in utero – first voice recognition! For all children, singing helps in parent-child bonding and supporting language development. For children with autism, music has a particularly valuable role.
You may have have heard stories of the autistic person who can play the piano. Or perhaps you have noticed that your child seems to like to listen to music or singing, or hums to him or herself.
The latest research with MRIs shows that, for people with autism, information delivered through music is much more easily received and processed than spoken information. Engagement in music stimulates virtually all parts of the brain in a coordinated manner – including the executive function which is underdeveloped and struggling in those with autism. Because of this coordinated development, all areas of learning benefit.
Engaging with simple musical instruments also provides the child with a non-verbal means of self-expression and supports his emotional well being.
In the hands of a skilled music therapist, an autistic child’s relationship skills grow, their language develops, and they become more interested interest in the environment and toys. They learn to be more flexible and creative.