Autism and Music

The use of music therapy in treating Auti Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a promising way to connect and help children to respond. Music does not rely on semantic interpretations, and it does not matter if a child lacks or has limited language abilities, they can enjoy music.
  •  Children suffering from ASD often use repetitive pacing and vague movements to cope with stress. 
  • Encouraging children to clap and drum rhythmically helps to break the repetitive pattern. 
  • Marching while listening to music helps increase motor co-ordination.
  • Recent research suggests that a tempo-based music therapy help to redirect repetitive behaviours, and reduce anxiety. 
  • The study also found that children who had limited expressive speech ability tended to have difficulties controlling their breathing when they were playing the recorder.
Music therapy has been a profession for over 60 years and music can be played to soothe a child when he is upset. 
Music provides a structure for a child and it is possible to expand and improve upon the child’s behaviour and communication. 
For a child suffering from a severe form of ASD, music is way of communicating. For a child with more moderate form, music can be used as a way to carry verbal messages. A child may not be able to speak but may sing a word that is missing in a song. 

For children with a high-functioning ASD music can help with verbal communication. Instead of talking, words can be sung. 
Many children enjoy playing a musical instrument. Playing an ensemble is a wonderful way for a child to interact and develop. 
Children with ASD can reach a high level of technical skills but it is often argued that music does not emotionally move or engage them. Autism Spectrum Disorders covers a wide range of conditions, and there are naturally differences in the way children respond to music.   
  • But most of all music therapy is fun and children suffering from ASD often enjoy this type of therapy. 
  • Music engages rather than threatens a child.

Berger, D.S. (in press). On Developing Music Therapy Goals and Objectives In the Treatment  of Autism Characteristics. In The creative therapies with autism spectrum disorder, Chapter 10;  Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Publishers.

Photos: Baby Hand On Piano by sixninepixels

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