"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent."
Victor Hugo, author
Music intervention or music therapy is using music to help someone communicate what they want to say but can’t say it using speech. The American Music Therapy Association's definition is this:
Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.
Before you go further, watch this video of a young autistic boy who joins Josh Turner live on stage at the Grand Ole Opry.
A music therapist works in a variety of settings for a variety of reasons. Anyone of any age can benefit from this type of therapy. It is being used widely with the developmental and learning disabled. Hospitals and rehabilitation centers are also using music therapy for stroke victims and traumatic brain injuries. Even counselors are using music to help their patients relax.
"When words leave off, music begins."
Why is music being used with developmental and learning disabled children? Music areas exist on both sides of the brain. Music bypasses the language paths that a person normally uses for speech. Because music resides in many different locations in the brain it is easier for words to be retrieved from memory using music.
Children are known to start making noises from the time they are about 3 months old. Many of these sounds have a rhythm. So it is understandable why music intervention would be used to help children who are developmentally challenged.
To learn more about music and child development, click here.
Music is often paired with communication skills that need improving. For instance, when teaching a child how to spell his name, a familiar melody of a favorite song is used with letter clues so that the child hears his name being spelled out in the song. Eventually, the music cues are taken away so that only the letters are left to be learned.
In order to help an autistic child to remember social skills or the sequences in instructions, therapists create songs, often times with hand movements. This is especially helpful for the non-verbal child who often will sing but not talk.
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Therapy classes include any one of the following exercises or a combination. Most classes are about 30 minutes in length and meet 2 to 3 times a week.
Playing musical instruments/or computer musical software (To see a new device which produces music you can use at home for children and adults with severe physical and cognitive challenges.
Anyone can use music to help a child learn. BUT for measured results, a music therapist should be used. A music therapist will assess the client to determine the needs of the individual. Goals will then be set based on the program designed for the client. The music therapist will determine what activities would best suit the client and can set up a home program. Finally, the therapist would do regularly schedules evaluations.
Dr. Yannick Paul , an ADHD specialist, music intervention helps the ADHD child be able to make “positive changes in their behavior.” Parents have reported that music has actually helped their autistic child overcome their disability.
ANY child can benefit from music therapy whether they are musically inclined or have a "deaf ear". Giving children a chance to "play" with music in any form allows the creative juices to flow. Often times, as with art therapy, children are able to express themselves in a way that they can't with words.
Music classes give special needs children a social outlet where they can be accepted. Often times, autistic children surpass others in the class. Watch this video about two young autistic men who excel at music. Find out how they are helping other autistic children.
To find a music therapist in your area, go to American Music Therapy Association or check with your local hospital or rehabilitation center. The library may have a list of qualified music therapist in your state.
This website is called ELF. It has fantastic pictures with music to teach digraphs and diphthongs. Also, there are many videos that teach colors and numbers, the alphabet and animals as well as math.