Many studies have found that children and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) respond well to music. ASD is classified with a significant delay in communication and socialization. Therefore, our music therapy goals primarily focus on improving these areas. Music therapy also addresses many other goals such as attention to task, reducing anxiety and improving fine and gross motor skills. Below are some examples of how music therapy can improve specific needs for people with ASD:
Communication • Music is a means of non-verbal communication. • Musical form and songs resemble verbal communication. • Music provides structure and motivation for communication. • Music facilitates relationships to increase self-expression and communication in a non-threatening environment.
Social Behaviors • Music therapy can reduce negative self-stimulatory responses and increase socially acceptable participation. • The limbic system is involved in the processing of music, emotions, behaviors and feeling states. • During music therapy sessions, individuals practice non-musical skills that can be used in other settings. • Music therapy increases social confidence and self-esteem.
Focus and Attention • Music is processed in multiple areas of the brain including the prefrontal cortex, inferior frontal cortex and superior temporal lobes. This can stimulate cognitive function, memory, and provides organization for the sensory system. • Music therapy improves mood; therefore increases learning and joint attention. • Memorizing songs and rhymes is a useful tool for developing literacy.
Music therapy is an established form of early intervention treatments. Music therapy can be implemented in individual sessions or small groups. Music is an excellent tool for communication and development toward speech, improving social skills, increasing cognitive development, improving motor skills and improving family dynamics. Music therapists are trained in using age-appropriate music to address these goals.
Physical Disabilities, Neurological Disorders, and Traumatic Brain Injury
Research in music therapy has shown that music interventions can aid in relaxation and decrease the anxiety and pain that often accompanies disabilities. It is reinforcing and is used to motivate for movement exercise that increases range of motion, gross and fine motor skills development and improvement in muscle and joint function.
Music therapy interventions can assist to:
Facilitate temporal and quantitative muscular control
Improve gait training
Neurological music therapy is based on a neuroscience model of music perception and production and the influence of music on functional changes in nonmusical brain and behavior functions. Neurological music therapy is made up of standardized treatment techniques and applied as therapeutic music interventions which are adapted to the client’s needs. These neurological musical therapy application of music interventions are used to improve cognitive, sensory and motor dysfunctions due to neurological disorders of the nervous system.
Memory Care, Geriatrics and Hospice
Music is a form of sensory stimulation which provokes responses due to the familiarity, predictability and feelings of security associated with it. Music is processed in the limbic system where memories are also processed. This is why music is heavily tied to memory, offering an opportunity for a meaningful connection when a loved one cannot communicate effectively or at all. Studies show that when people can’t speak, they can still sing. Music therapy can help with speech rehabilitation when using singing to increase speech articulation for someone with a stroke, traumatic brain injury or other neurologic disorder. Singing is also a form of communication in of itself as evidenced by a person with Alzheimer’s who can no longer speak but can sing.
Music Therapy goals include:
• Increase memory recall • Provide opportunities for life review/reminiscence • Increase mood • Increase sense of control • Increase self-awareness/awareness of others/environment
• Decrease anxiety and stress • Decrease pain and discomfort • Increase sensory stimulation • Increase social interaction
Music Therapy in Hospice
Music therapy provides unique opportunities to create meaningful and appropriate interaction. Singing, active music listening or playing instruments can distract from pain and grief. Hearing is the last sense lost before death and even though loved ones cannot communicate, they can hear loved one's sing their favorite songs or talk to them while music is playing. Music therapy decreases pain and increases physical comfort, spiritual comfort and quality of life.
Music Therapy goals include:
• Decrease anxiety • Increase quality of life • Promote expression of feelings and emotions • Facilitate feelings of personal meaningfulness • Decrease emotional and physical pain • Alleviate terminal agitation/restlessness • Decrease nausea and vomiting
• Increase spiritual support • Assist loved one’s interaction with patient • Increase control • Increase coping mechanisms • Increase feelings of closeness, acceptance and intimacy • Provide bereavement follow up
Joyful Music Therapy serves our clients in a variety of locations such as, schools, assisted living facility, group homes, and community centers, at their home and at our music therapy center in Winter Park.