Benefits of Music Therapy
Cognition Skills: Music’s rhythmic patterns provide a structured way for children with special needs to organize auditory information. This makes music a helpful tool for memorization and learning daily routines. With repetition, music can also help improve a child’s attention span.
Language Skills: Music therapy has been found to improve speech output among individuals with autism in the areas of vocalization, verbalization, and vocabulary. Research has found music to improve the mapping of sounds to actions, by connecting the auditory and motor sections of the brain, which may help improve understanding of verbal commands. By pairing music with actions, and with repetitive training, the brain pathways needed to speak can be reinforced and improved.
Social-Emotional Skills: Studies show that during play sessions with music, children with autism showed more social engagement with their peers than in those without music. How? Music encouraged the children with autism to interact in more appropriate ways with other children, including sharing and taking turns. Parents and caregivers can use music with children to increase their social interaction and improve social skills. Passing and sharing instruments, music and movement games, learning to listen and singing of songs are just a few ways music therapy sessions can increase interaction. We know that autism can create barriers for children in social settings, but small groups of children listening to music together may feel confident and comfortable enough to comment, express their emotions, or sing along with others.
Physical skills: Music is a great way to help with gross and fine motor activities. Dancing exercises can also help stimulate our sensory systems and allow us to enhance fine motor skills such as using musical instruments.
Behavior: Music can improve children’s behavior by helping them learn to follow directions. Research found that music connects the auditory and motor parts of the brain. This helps children with autism better understand and obey verbal commands. Music therapy also helps decrease negative behaviors such as aggression and tantrums.
Anxiety: Children who receive music therapy appear to have decreased anxiety-related behaviors. Playing classical music or music with a steady rhythm is thought to be beneficial for alleviating anxiety in children with autism due to the predictably of the beat. Introducing music into their routine helps increase their tolerance for frustration and decrease anxious behaviors.