Music is an integral part of our family. My husband is a musician by profession, so for as long as we’ve been together our house has been full of the sounds of flamenco, jazz, rock, and classical music. It was no surprise then that our children took to music like ducks to water.
For Zoe, music has been a big part of her therapy. Using her fingers to strum her guitar or play on the keyboard is a wonderful way to improve her fine motor coordination. As I mentioned in my post about stimming, Zoe’s hands were beginning to suffer the ill-effects of harmful stimming. Playing her instruments not only helps improve her motor skills, but it also improves her focus and helps keep her hands busy…which means less stim time. Zoe and Ayden love listening to music; in fact, our day starts and ends with music. In the evenings, the kids hop into bed and listen to some of their favorite silly songs. They Might Be Giants and Veggie Tales are among their favorites.
Children with autism have been shown to respond remarkably well to music therapy, making it a great tool to use at home and in the classroom. Research shows that listening to music can help brain function. Music with a strong beat can stimulate your brain to try and keep up with it, helping boost concentration and alertness. By contrast, listening to music with slower tempos can help relax you. These benefits continue even after you stop listening. Music therapy can help with stress management (something I find particularly beneficial), pain management, and recovery from illness or injury.
Best of all, music is fun! It is universal; music is part of every culture in the world. From the farthest reaches of Asia and Africa to right in your neighborhood, children have been singing songs, banging on pots and pans, and playing instruments for millennia. Even when we’re not able to communicate with each other verbally, the language of music transcends speech. It gives us a remarkable opportunity to communicate and get to know each other better.
For more information about the benefits of music therapy, visit The American Music Therapy Association at www.musictherapy.org.