Music Therapy for Autism

Music Therapy at Shema Kolainu - Hear Our Voices

Music Therapy at Shema Kolainu - Hear Our Voices

After covering how one boy’s hidden talent was discovered through music therapy, we thought we’d take a closer look at how music therapy works.

What Is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is a well-known technique for using musical interaction to help individuals with a wide range of cognitive and emotional challenges to develop their ability to function. By interacting with adults and children on the autism spectrum, musical therapists can build skills, lower anxiety, and even develop new communication skills.

Why See a Music Therapist?

Music Therapy can help people with autism to improve skills in areas such as communication, social skills, sensory issues, behavior, cognition, perceptual/motor skills, and self-reliance or self-determination. The therapist finds music experiences that strike a chord with a particular person, making personal connections and building trust.

How Does Music Therapy Work?

  • Songs act as a “mnemonic” device to aid in memory of new or difficult academic concepts.
  • Music provides an optimal learning environment for those students who are highly attentive to music activities but are often distractible with other modes of learning.
  • Singing and speech share many similarities, yet are accessed differently by the brain, music strategies can be used as a rehabilitative approach to functional communication.
  • Language skills such as asking and answering questions, maintaining a conversation, and using new vocabulary are embedded in song lyrics that the student is encouraged to sing during sessions followed by fading of music to spoken language.
  • Musical instruments and interactive songs are presented to address turn-taking and cooperative interaction.
  • Musical instruments are used with song cueing to improve coordination, target various grasps, and increase duration of participation.
  • Activities are designed to use music as a reward, contingency, transition aid, or to calm the student.

Who Can Be a Music Therapist?

The training of a music therapist involves a full curriculum of music classes, along with selected courses in psychology, special education, and anatomy with specific core courses and field experiences in music therapy. Following coursework, students complete a six-month full time clinical internship and a written board certification exam. Registered, board certified professionals must then maintain continuing education credits or retake the exam to remain current in their practice.