The Benefits of Music Therapy for Children with Special Needs

Here is a picture of my little guy at about 6 months old in Kindermusik.  We went to Kindermusik for about 3 years.  I truly believe that music has played an extremely important role in Jacob’s growth and development.

I can remember even when he was a baby, how I would move his legs and arms around, while singing “Wheels On The Bus” to help him increase his low tone issues.

We dance and listen to music every day.  Music has become such an important part of our lives.  I incorporate a lot of songs into our daily tasks for example “Following the Leader” or “Clean Up”.  They all help to increase his knowledge of learning and provide him such physical and occupational input.

Before Jacob was born I can remember holding up speakers to my belly playing instrumental music like Jim Brickman.  I read that this helps with cognitive development.  I can honestly say that even though Jacob has Down Syndrome one of his greatest areas of strength is in the area cognitive learning.

I have taken him to see the Notre Dame Glee club sing when he was about 9 months old.  The library had a free performance of the South Bend Quartet and we sat right up in the front.  Jacob just moved his hands to music.  We took him to see Swan Lake and the Nutcracker, now keep in mind he’s only 5 and he stayed awake and alert through both performances.  He absolutely loves music and anything that has to do with it.

I just took him to see Barney Live for his 5th birthday.  Wow what a smile on a child’s face.  Barney is wonderful.  People may have mixed emotions about the show, but I can tell you that purple dinosaur has taught my son a lot and I’m thankful.

If you have the ability to get involved with your local music class or program, I would definately suggest it.  It brings tremendous benefits to our children.  See more in the article below:

The Benefits of Music Therapy for Children with Special Needs   by: Betsey Zenk Nuseibeh

While therapists and medical professionals have long recognized the measurable benefits of occupational therapy and physical therapy for children with developmental disabilities and other special needs, the far-reaching benefits of music therapy have only relatively recently been discussed in depth.

The latest research proves that music therapy offers children with special needs a wide range of long-term benefits. It helps children improve their gross and fine motor skills, aids in academic achievement, improves social interaction skills and helps with communication.

Do you remember learning the alphabet? Did the familiar “A-B-C” song help you retain that information? That’s a small example, but a good one, of how music can help us learn and retain academic knowledge. Music therapy helps organize a variety of information in smaller, easier to learn, bits.

One of the greatest upsides to music therapy that makes it one of the best activities for children with special needs, is the fact that it music very appealing to the children themselves. For example, children with autism are often extremely interested in and stimulated by music. They respond more often to music than many other types of sound. In fact, there are some children who will respond only to musical stimuli. Their affinity for music is a great motivator for them to participate in therapy and helps make music therapy that much more effective.

According to the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), since music is processed by a different area of the brain than speech, it’s easier for children with special needs to absorb and retain a wide range of information using music therapy. The well-known mood enhancing or soothing aspects of music help the children improve their emotional state. Research shows that group music therapy for children empowers them to channel feelings such as frustration and anger into creative forms of expression and communication.

Music therapy also helps these children focus. Again according to AMTA, research proves that children in early education programs who participate in music therapy group activities greatly improve their ability to pay attention and stay on task. Furthermore they score higher in language skills, fine motor skills, social interaction and cognitive development.

Finally, the benefits of music therapy in helping children with physical disabilities or other special needs to improve their motor skills are enormous. For example, learning to play a musical instrument through adapted guitar lessons or adapted piano lessons can help these children improve their fine motor skills as well as hand-eye coordination. The repeated rhythms of music therapy have been proven to help with gross motor skills also, helping children who have irregular gaits or challenges with muscle control.

Truly, music therapy is one of the most effective and helpful ways to teach special needs children. One of its best, most appealing qualities is that it’s fun. Like all of us, children are drawn to music. It engages them, improves their mood and helps them focus. Music therapy makes learning enjoyable and offers a remarkable variety of benefits to children with developmental disabilities and other special needs.

About The Author Betsey Zenk Nuseibeh, of Melodic Connections is a special educator and a board certified music therapist in Cincinnati.

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