Why Music Therapy is Beneficial for Neurodiverse Children
Kids love music. Adults love music. We all do. It’s soothing and therapeutic.
If that’s the case, why isn’t it being more widely used to help neurodiverse kids achieve developmental milestones? That answer is, of course, long and drawn out and not the purpose of this article.
Suffice it to say, it’s still a fairly new arena and the more people who are aware of what music therapy offers and utilize this service, the more widespread you’ll start to see it become. Music therapy is beneficial in so many ways for those with special needs. It is a way to expand on traditional therapy services and give kids new tools in order to reach their goals and see success.
Benefits of Music Therapy for Neurodiverse Children
Help a child master an instrument and their confidence soars. They are working hard at a task and seeing progress.
Music offers children an opportunity to shine, often removing physical and verbal barriers. There’s a way for everyone to contribute, no matter their limitations.
Giving children a chance to be a part of something bigger than themselves validates their self-worth and reinforces the fact that they are a valued and necessary part of our community.
Boosts memory recall
Why do you struggle to remember an old friend’s phone number, yet can still sing word-for-word your favorite songs from high school? Putting words to a catchy tune is a great way to help kids remember important things. This can be used in so many ways – helping children memorize math facts, history dates, and more!
If your child is struggling academically, music is a great tool to have in your toolbelt. This is such a fantastic technique and can be used in other areas as well.
Anything your child has a hard time remembering – safety rules, social cues, manners, medical information, whatever it is – set it to music and help them commit it to memory.
Strengthens fine and gross motor skills
When a child is struggling and is developmentally delayed, physical and occupational therapy can feel like such a chore. While beneficial, sometimes a child just needs a new way to work toward hitting those milestones.
Music therapy offers children the chance to work with a trained therapist on current goals while exploring instruments and learning new skills.
Sometimes a change of pace is key.
Improves social-emotional development
As mentioned above, setting words to a catchy tune boosts memory recall. This can also help when teaching children social cues.
Children with special needs sometimes have trouble interacting with their peers. Often, they miss the subtle nuances that happen in everyday conversation. This is why it’s critical we equip them with the tools they need to communicate effectively with people of all ages.
Music therapy also provides children a safe environment to learn things such as making eye contact, taking turns, expressing oneself, and working together with others on a group project.
These skills are important. We are not raising children. We are raising adults. Let’s give them the tools they need to be successful.
Builds communication skills and aids in speech development
If you’ve ever sat and watched an episode of Daniel Tiger with your preschooler, you’ve seen this in action. Daniel’s parents and teacher consistently help him navigate life’s little bumps through short, easy-to-remember songs.
By giving kids the words they need to communicate their feelings, we are preparing them to succeed as adults. When teaching this skill to kids who are wired differently, this can be a challenge depending on what their needs are.
Music is a great tool to accomplish this task.
Music therapy is an innovative way for therapists to work with kids in a new setting with new tools to help kids of all ages reach those therapy goals.
And it’s FUN!
Most importantly, it’s fun!
Music therapy doesn’t FEEL like therapy. It doesn’t feel clinical and cold. Unfortunately, this sometimes happens in a traditional therapy setting. Not always, but often enough.
Music is warm and inviting. Music therapy might be just the change of pace your child needs.
Music stands the test of time because there’s something out there for everybody.
Music therapy might not be what first comes to mind when thinking about helping our children overcome developmental delays or behaviour challenges, but please don’t count it out. It’s a growing field that has real potential to help children hit milestones, achieve goals, and see success!
*Disclaimer – We cannot speak for each individual child. Please speak to your child’s pediatrician and current therapy team when considering adding music therapy to their treatment plan.
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