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Getting Started With Autism Music Therapy

Aug 30, 2008
Studies and anecdotal evidence alike are clearly showing that therapy based on music can have a significant impact on reducing the symptoms of autism in children including undesirable autistic behaviors. Music therapy is a form of autism treatment based on carefully planned musical exercises and experiences. It is carefully evaluated before, during, and after every session so that it can be altered to best suit the individual needs of the autistic child. There are many different elements involved in autism music therapy, including:

- Listening to music
- Creating music
- Singing along to music
- Moving or dancing to music
- Playing musical instruments of any kind

This form of music therapy can have a notable positive outcome when treating children with various types and levels of autism. Participation in this kind of therapeutic assistance provides the children with the chance to be exposed to carefully measured and chosen, non-threatening stimulation, since no human contact is required.

Music therapy is beneficial as it can be tailored to specifically meet the unique needs of the child based on their own autism symptoms and their tastes and preferences. This ability to customize the therapy is very important as every case of autism is different from others and what may be very effective for one child may create negative results in another. To accomplish this customization, there are several kinds of music therapy that can be used on their own or in conjunction with one another.

The results of autism music therapy is far reaching and touches on many elements in the child's life. This includes, but is not limited to the following:

- Socio-emotional development - Autistic children frequently struggle with (or ignore) social contact efforts made by other people. Using music therapy, children can be drawn out of social withdrawal through their relationship with the music or an instrument of their choice. The music works as an intermediary between the child and people around them.

- Verbal and non-verbal communication - Singing and dancing to music helps autistic children to improve their speech vocalization and express themselves physically. Many mental processes are stimulated by listening to and producing music, such as symbolizing, conceptualizing, and comprehension. Often, autistic children find it easier to accept different sounds than verbal speech. Music is therefore a good transition to get them used to sounds. Furthermore, when playing wind instruments and singing, the children become more familiar with the various parts of their mouths and how to manipulate them for speech and other purposes.

- Emotional fulfillment - Many autistic children struggle to respond effectively with stimuli in their environment, making it difficult to enjoy a full emotional experience. Therefore, since the majority of autistic children respond well to the stimulus of music therapy experience, autistic kids can enjoy a fear-free experience for a full emotional moment.

Autism music therapy sessions are generally very flexible, allowing the children the opportunity to learn and express themselves at their own pace and to their own preferences and taste, achieving great emotional satisfaction.
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