March 7, 2020, 4:53 a.m.

Music Therapy for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Music Therapy is the musical interaction between the children and their therapists which can help the kids deal with their multitude of problems in a risk-free, non-problematic manner. Music Therapy is widely known to help build the ability to function across a wide-range of activities. It can build skills, develop new communications kills, help kids with their pre-existing abilities, lower anxiety and work on attention span and concentration issues.

  Although they share a few similarities, music therapy is very different from typical music instruction classes. Appropriate qualifications are required to master the techniques and education that is mandatory for the therapist to be able to practice music therapy in the first place. A music teacher cannot offer to do the same and parents and caregivers should be aware of this situation. 

  Research over the past few decades has shown that Music therapy can indeed be a very powerful tool in working and dealing with kids, especially if the kid is suspected or diagnosed to be on the spectrum. Music based family therapy is known to facilitate parent-child bonds and the bonds between the children as well. On an individual level, people have reported improvement in communication skills, self-determination, visual perception, perceptual/motor skills, behavioral issues, cognitive abilities, self-reliance and other sensory issues.

    These changes were not limited to just this but there were some who observed a lot of increase in appropriate social behavior, enhanced body awareness, increased vocalization, gestural comprehension, verbal comprehension, co-ordination, concentration, improvement in their self-care abilities, better vocabulary and increased communication. 

   Music therapy has given good results as kids with ASD are generally known to be highly inclined to music. They have better and much more responsive statistics to music as opposed to the spoken word. Music is motivating and engaging rather than being drab and hence doesn’t feel like work to the children and keeps their shorter attention spans engaged for longer. It also uses natural resources as reinforcers and hence doesn’t introduce any new or alien concepts to the kids but is rather natural. 

  Therapists are known to organize group sessions where I they facilitate social communication as well as empathetic concepts of sharing via the group. Children are encouraged to pass and share the instruments, both the ones they like and ones they don’t, gathering them around a central instrument, learning to listen and to interact with other kids and adults based on their needs. Children with ASD are also more prone to anxiety as opposed to an average child of the same age. Classical music or anything with a solid, steady rhythm is known to be the best sort of music to help kids due to the predictability of the beat. 

Studies of early intervention have shown that if we learn together with our autistic children through gentle play, fun musical activities, and non-invasive games then we can create a supportive environment where parents and children can bond in a healthy way. The reason that we use music therapy is to help our autistic children learn to relate to us and to others; other family members may be invited to participate after children become accustomed to one on one sessions.

 A lot of children on the spectrum are called out to be aloof or rude. This is generally because a lot of children with ASD do not have the full range of expressions and that makes the look unapproachable and insensitive to situations. Music allows them the freedom of expression without being misjudged for their actions or their lack of expressions. This can also be extended to kids with vocal impairments and speech lags. Music therapy uses the instruments, rhythm, beat and lyrics as an alternative way of communication, all the while stimulating the language -processing centres so they can build the capacity for language, increase in brain activity and overcome the speech lags.