13 Aug How Does Music Therapy Help Autism?
Many tasks such as verbal skills or visual skills are clearly ‘left’ brain or ‘right’ brain; however listening to or playing music requires the use of both sides of the brain. The right side of the brain is responsible for musical tone, natural rhythm and musical passion while the left side of the brain handles musical melody, musical rhythm and tempo as well as musical notes. So how does this help with autism?
Harvard Medical School Professor Dr. Martha R. Herbert, states “Brain cells need to follow a regular rhythm to produce a response in the brain. For people with autism, there is less coordination of this rhythm from one point to another. Music helps by creating an organized and regular stimulus to the brain that helps the brain get organized to keep track of the rhythm.”
Can music improve communication skills in children?
According to Empirical Musicology Review which published a German paper that looked at the impact of music on children with autism, two major areas of improvement are noted when music therapy is started on children with autism. First, communication and language skills are improved in as few as ten music therapy sessions. They found a significant positive relationship between musical vocal skills and nonmusical speech production skills and researchers believe this is because music bypasses speech and language barriers in individuals with autism.
Second, music therapy helps to improve socio-behavior skills – such as reducing off-task behaviors; problematic classroom behavior; emotion recognition; improving eye contact and increasing the initiation of interactions by children with autism. Researchers have found that rhythmic entrainment is the most helpful for improving social behavior because it helps the mind and body to relax and re-entrains the body to its natural rhythmic patterns.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis states that music therapy can help dramatically reduce vocal stereotypy (repetitive singing, snorting, and slurring) in children with autism.
What type of music works best for children with autism?
Some music therapists use Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’ and Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep’ to help with social engagement and pronunciation. Harvard Medical states that it’s important that the child likes the music and it doesn’t have to be classical to have them derive benefit.
Music therapy schools teach piano to children with autism and this also seems to have science to back it up. The Brain Research Bulletin states that making music by playing an instrument engages the mirror neuron system and this can be of great benefit to children with autism. Making music involves the processing of simultaneous visual, auditory, somatosensory and motoric information to execute and control motor actions.
Several studies discussed rhythmic entrainment as an effective music therapy strategy. This method improves social behavior and communication skills, and aids with learning and memory. The Center for Neuroacoustic Research, in California, has helped many children on the spectrum, fortune 500 companies, athletes and other attain success using their soundscapes. Their Delta sleep system alone has helped millions of people around the globe get a peaceful night’s sleep. They make custom and global CDs to help with attention, learning, memory, socialization, creativity, sleep, etc., and are very affordable. Their single CDs start at under $20 and a 4 CD set is under $35.
If you are considering music therapy, the flower essence Pear by Green Hope Farms can help your child get the most out of their sessions as it helps to deepen the ability to receive healing through sound. If you have had a positive experience with music – please share your comments below.
About the author: Sima Ash of Healing 4 Soul is a clinical and classical homeopath and certified clinical nutritionist who utilizes a unique approach pioneered by Tinus Smits, M.D. called CEASE therapy. The aim of CEASE treatment is systematic detoxification of the causes of illness, leading to step by step improvement and restoration of health in the individual. For additional information, please visit – Healing4Soul.com
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