It is no secret that music is something that can help people in many ways. Research has shown that music therapy is able to boost cognitive ability, help ease pain, and decrease stress. Thanks to this, many schools are looking at music therapy to assist children who are identified with an autism diagnosis.
The Benefits of Music Therapy
Autistic children may have many difficulties during the school day. This could be due to social anxiety, sensory overload, or something else specific to that individual. Music therapists have seen that children on the autism spectrum do well with music therapy. It levels things out for them and they are able to ease into their academic routines. Making music assists children in three main ways:
Communication skills improve with music. Children are able to sing about their feelings. With a twist of music, it may be easier for some children to process the words and get them out for others. In addition to this, some children that are almost nonverbal are able to talk, interact with others, play, and learn more. The Linden Grove School in Ohio is utilizing this within their whole child program. With the help of Melodic Connections, they integrate music therapy into their school day.
Increase communication with teachers and peers leads to additional benefits. Music therapy can also boost self confidence. When kids see that they can be successful and happy, they become more confident. When this continues over a period of time, it will blossom and often carry over into other areas of their lives. Teachers are able to use this new found confidence to get some students to come out of their comfort zone and try new more challenging things. With increased sense of self, many are less anxious and able to do more during the academic day.
Music therapy also helps students to follow directions. Social skills that are worked on during music sessions also help children to benefit from taking turns, allowing others to take the lead, and participating in a group. Kids start to recognize more facial expressions from those that they are with for multiple sessions. This will help them to understand the more indirect instructions that may be given within a classroom setting. Working as a team with musical instruments provides kids with an opportunity to see how different members of a group can contribute in different ways.
Starting a Program at Your School
Special education teachers should look within communities to see what resources are available. While Melodic Connections may not be near you, another program may be willing to train and coordinate with the needs of your school. In addition to this, search for music therapy grants that may be available to assist with the cost of these programs. When talking to administrators, it is important to remind them that making music helps kids to communicate, follow rules, and work together with a purpose.