Autism Music Therapy

Autism Music Therapy

Autism music therapy can help. I’ve discovered with my own son that music can make a tremendous difference in speech, emotion and behavior. Whether it was actual autism music therapy or not, it had a great affect. It has been said that everybody has an instinctive response to music. Therefore it makes sense that everyone would respond to music therapy, doesn’t it? As a typical person think of the emotions that you have felt due to different types of music and even different songs at different times in your life. And that wasn’t even therapy. A developmental disorder like autism can conceal those instincts but it can’t stop them.

Though hardly recognized in the US music therapy is an established profession in many countries around the world, including the UK. In fact the World Music Therapy Federation was established to promote the understanding, use, and development of music therapy. And the Association of Professional Music Therapists, based in London, was formed in 1976 to support and develop the profession. Since being introduced in the 50s and 60s by people like Clive Robbins, Juliette Alvin, and Paul Nordoff music therapy has been a useful intervention helping people with autism. Though not formally called “Autism Music Therapy” most of the early work by the aforementioned therapists was in the field of autism. In the US western medicine seems to convince people that it has the answer to everything. But drugs can’t cure autism and they often can’t lessen the symptoms either. The simple fact is that whether or not science has proven autism music therapy to be effective I’ve seen music and it’s positive affects firsthand.

It’s difficult to obtain convincing scientific data on the results of autism music therapy because it’s based on one-on-one relationships and the emotional states of individuals undergoing the therapy and many other factors. Like every form of therapy, however, the results will vary because autistic children vary. But autism music therapy can make a positive difference.

Autism Music of Linda Conrad

Click the CD to learn more about Linda Conrad’s
music for children with autism!

Using Music to Help with Therapy

I should state something up front; My son has not had autism music therapy. When it was recommended by my son’s occupational therapist this form of intervention was shot down due to lack of scientific proof behind it. They didn’t want to pay for something that didn’t have solid scientific backing. But I’ve seen the affects of music and song with my son none-the-less. Understand, it was not autism music therapy, but rather using music to enhance therapy.

Surely a professional music therapist would have more profound results, but let me tell about the results I’ve seen in my son and how I know these results were related to music, song and singing.

At age 5 Braden rarely used full sentences when he spoke. IF he spoke at all it was using 2 or 3 word sentences like “Want a drink” or “help please”. One evening, after a full day of kindergarten, his Grandma wanted to talk to him on the phone. So I gave the phone to Braden and after a few moments of listening to Grandma he blurted out a question. A QUESTION! He never did that before! It was a huge milestone for him. He was trying to talk to his Grandma and indeed he was getting out more words than ever. My wife and I were incredibly excited! Then shortly after hanging up the phone he began to sing! We had never heard him sing before and he was singing songs we didn’t recognize. We put 1 and 1 together and figured out that he was singing songs he had been exposed to in school. In the songs he was “singing” sentences. Here was a kid that didn’t talk in sentences yet he was singing sentences! That said a lot about music to me and my wife.

Today, we play music for him that was specifically written to help autistic children deal with things like transitions, behaviors, and personal space. It’s one of a kind and we’ve found this sort of music nowhere else! The album was performed and written by Linda Conrad and all the tunes are catchy. Click on the CD on the left for more information. It may not be autism music therapy but it’s therapeutic none the less.

Think about it; Songs stick in your head. Everything from the A,B,C song to the latest jingle on the radio. Everyone in advertising knows the value of music as it relates to brand identification and remembrance. As the parent of a child with autism I don’t hesitate to recommend that every intervention should incorporate the use of music and song in some way, even if it’s only by playing music for your child at home. Parents are a child’s main teacher and therapist. Don’t forget about music!

Association of Professional Music Therapists

National Autistic Society – Music Therapy

Coast Music Therapy

Q: Why do classrooms use music?
A: Because it’s therapeutic, it helps calm the kids, and it promotes learning.

Q: Why do stores always have music playing while you’re shopping?
A: Because they know it puts customers in a comfortable relaxed mood and you’re more likely to spend money.

Q: Why do we play music at home for our autistic son?
A: Because he enjoys it and it soothes him. We’ve seen fewer behavior outbursts and dramatic emotions when we have music playing for him.

With that said let me offer a word of warning: If you play heavy metal music around your autistic child you may be asking for some serious trouble! Haha! I doubt they use that form of music with autism music therapy.