Why I Love Music Therapy
Max has received a variety of therapies since he was 6 months old; occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, vision therapy, social skills class. We’ve done yoga classes for children on the Autism spectrum and he currently plays soccer on a team for children with special needs. By and large though, the therapy that has helped him the most we’ve only been doing for less than a year.
Music therapy is not considered to be mainstream. Like art therapy or play therapy, it’s one of those things that medical doctors say “can’t hurt” but parents like me say are a must.It’s a non-negotiable line in our budget since insurance doesn’t cover it. There are so many studies out there about the impact of music on learning and how our kids on the spectrum with their magical brains just relate to music in a specific way. I knew that it was the right thing to do with Max when after weeks and weeks of working with his occupational therapist to put his shoes on (not tie them, just put them on), she sang the directions instead of simply saying them. He sang them back to her and put his shoes on, by himself, for the first time (and he was almost 6 years old at the time). I went home from that session and emailed the music therapist to set up an evaluation.
Our music therapist is board certified and created goals and programs just like all of Max’s other therapists.In fact, she looked at the assessments from those therapists as well as his IEP to figure out how to reinforce those goals into his sessions. She looked at Max as a whole child, not just at his “school skills”. He has goals to help him with his fear of noises like that of a bug flying by and fireworks, he has goals to help him nail down pronouns like he and she, and he has goals to help him gain more strength in his hands.
But unlike occupational therapy (OT) and all the rest, he’s working toward all of these goals with music. Instead of using tweezers to pick things up and increase his hand strength, he strums guitar strings or plays the keys of a piano. He practices crossing the midline of his body by banging on bongo drums. And he laughs. Boy, does he laugh. They make up silly songs together to help with comprehension and memory and he makes more improvement from week to week than with any other intervention.
If you’ve been considering music therapy or want to learn more about it, I strongly encourage you to do some research. Our therapy group even hosts family programs like weekly Friday night drum circle and a rock band class for teenagers. And, if your child is involved in multiple therapies, you know what a big deal this is – they come to your house. So I can sit in my office and listen to the session while still getting work done. Fantastic.
- E-family news: Children & Music – Benefits of Music in Child Development