Music has a way of reaching us, touching our souls and inspiring us in a way that is very powerful. Often it can have a very effective impact on children with disabilities, especially children with speech and language disorders and gross or fine-motor difficulties. Studies have also shown that when children are exposed to classical music regularly, their mathematical abilities are boosted. If you have a child who is struggling in math, language, or physical development, music therapy is something you should seriously consider. Music therapy has been proven quite effective for children with varying disabilities such as Down Syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, and many more.
Judy Winter, the mother of a young son with cerebral palsy, said that enrolling her son in music therapy “paid off in spades.” In her book, “Breakthrough Parenting for Children With Special Needs,” she describes the experience as resulting in “remarkable gains, including enhanced motor skills, greater communication skills, heightened self-esteem, and increased motivation in his daily activities, including homework.”
Here are several ways that Music Therapy can help your child:
- Singing stimulates and engages many parts of the brain not used in typical language processing. Often children who have difficulty with language can improve their skills through song. I have heard of some children learning to sing before they could speak.
- Playing an instrument helps teach a child muscle coordination, rhythm, cause and effect, and improves fine and gross motor skills. It also increases self-esteem and confidence.
- Music brightens a child’s mood. Have you ever noticed how certain songs can make you feel melancholy, or happy? Music is mood-enhancing, and children with disabilities often benefit greatly from upbeat, rhythmic music that they can sing or play an instrument with.
- Music is tremendously helpful with stress-relief and can be used with relaxation techniques.
- Interestingly enough, playing the kazoo has been found to be an effective way to promote speech. Something about the feel of the vibrations and hearing the sound emitted stimulates the desire to create verbal sounds. Many children have improved their ability to speak using a kazoo.
How can I get my child involved?
Visit the official website of the American Music Therapy Association for more information on the benefits of music therapy and how you can become involved. You can also check with the special education administrators in your child’s school district, and ask what programs are available. Contact a local college or university and ask for their music department. Ask if there are students or educators willing to provide music therapy for your child.