My oldest son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was a toddler, and ever since we’ve tried countless treatments and alternative therapies to help him live as rich a life as possible. Our most recent exploration was into the world of music therapy, and it was astonishing how well he responded to it.
Since the Mozart Effect was made popular in the 1950’s, parents everywhere have begun to expose their children to classical music. It is said to help improve brain performance and even raise a child’s IQ.
As time has passed, all types of music have been accepted as part of music therapy. Music therapy is used to help children in the classroom, at home and even in hospitals, regardless of whether or not they have special needs.
Music Therapy for Children with Disabilities
Music therapy has been shown to improve speech and language deficits and cognitive abilities. It can also help build your child’s social skills and sensory motor functioning – especially in children with Autism.
Music therapists are board certified trainers who have learned to facilitate specific music activities to help your child’s brain develop. Other advocates of music therapy say that it can also provide a huge boost to a child’s self-esteem.
Imagine a happy child smiling and bouncing around as you help them dance to the music created by the therapist. This will also help you foster a healthy non-verbal relationship with your child. So much love and adoration can be expressed as they experience the music around them with you.
My son’s physical limitations prevent him from learning an instrument, but the music therapist comes to play music for him and he loves every second of it. Being able to participate in this is only an added benefit. It’s almost as if the music therapy is for both of us. Seeing his smile is priceless.
Music can also be incorporated into all kinds of activities with your special needs child such as getting dressed, at bedtime, and when they are throwing a tantrum. It can help significantly calm them down and focus on something more positive than whatever is frustrating them.
Music Therapy for All Children
Research shows that music therapy has helped many a student achieve higher test scores in school. Even years later when children are taking the SAT and applying to colleges their test scores are slightly higher than their peers who did not participate in music therapy or education.
Some Charter schools in the United States are allowing children to wear their headphones during the day while they are doing class work because it helps them concentrate better. Music can be used to motivate your child in all kinds of situations – and this is definitely still considered therapy.
Young minds can be heavily shaped by music in many different ways. A large number of children find it easier to fall asleep at night time while listening to soothing music, like Mozart. This also helps their brains process their thoughts from throughout the day and has been shown to reduce nightmares and night terrors.
After seeing the benefits for my son, I would highly suggest anyone who is interested or considering music therapy to try it. The positive benefits to them are truly endless.
[Photo 1 courtesy of speechbuddy.com]
[Photo 2 courtesy of topnews.in]
[Photo 3 courtesy of ealingmusictherapy.org]
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer and proud mom of three in the Los Angeles area. She specializes in health, tech, and marketing, and currently works with David Anderson Pianos, who first sparked her interest in music therapy.