Music Therapy in Autistic Children

Autism is a disorder mostly associated with young children usually of age two to three (See, 2012). Autistic children are not affected in a similar manner hence each child faces unique individual challenges. Notably, autism affects the functionality of brain hence adverse effects on the children’s communication skills, behaviors, interaction skills as well as emotions. Henceforth, the health of a child is affected due to adverse effects on mental and physical conditions. Notably, music therapy plays a primary role in improving autism disorder in children. In the United States of America, music therapy was used in the early 1900s for special need children. Since then, Music therapy for autistic children was developed to improve their challenges in communication and social interaction (Jessica, 2017). Remarkably, music therapy promotes children wellness and health by enhancing memory, managing stress as well as improve communication. According to Journal of music therapy study carried out in 2004, music therapy for children with Autism disorders helps in improving coordination and body awareness, improving communication attempts as well as reducing anxiety (Berger, 2008). Also, music therapy is incorporated into a treatment strategy developed by healthcare professionals to the fully improve health challenges faced by autistic patients and achieve the sought outcomes within a reasonable timeframe (Juslin and Slobada, 2010). Therefore, music therapy plays a significant role in the health of Autistic children by improving cognitive functioning and sensory motor skills, decreasing agitation as well as enhancing auditory processing.

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For instance, autistic children are faced with challenges in communication and find it difficult to engage with other people since they struggle to communicate well. Remarkably, approximately thirty percent of autistic children face communication challenges since they are nonverbal hence they encounter hard moments with social awareness such as indulging body language. Their health is hugely affected since their mental capability is small to conceptualize information. The intervention of music improves speech output amongst the autistic children in numerous areas such as vocabulary, verbalization as well as vocalization. Notably, the brain of a person responds differently to music as compared to speech (MacDonald et al., 2012). Therefore, music helps to advance the transforming of sounds to actions by linking the motor sections and the auditory of the brain which further assists in the improvement of verbal commands understanding (MacDonald et al., 2012). Additionally, a constant training based on pairing music with actions helps in improving and reinforcing the brain pathways that are responsible for speaking and communicating hence improving the health condition of an autistic child. Therefore, music is the most effective and efficient method to enhance the health of autistic children by strengthening their communication skills through stimulating their brains. Remarkably, singing and music assist in promoting speech in children, by helping them to acquire new neurological pathways for communication deficits compensation hence improving health.

Similarly, music therapy plays a critical role in enhancing the social interaction development of autistic children through the exchange of tools and overall communication during the music therapy sessions hence improving the health of the child. For instance, music therapy sessions involve movement and music games, listening and singing of greetings, sharing and passing instruments as well as central tool gathering which helps to increase interaction among the children. According to a study carried out by Kim, Wigram, and Gold in 2009, autistic children exhibited extremely social engagement as well as emotional expression throughout the music therapy periods. Additionally, the children responded positively to the therapist’s requests more regularly throughout the music therapy session than in play sessions without music (Kim et al., 2009). Henceforth, it is evident that music encourages the autistic children to intermingle in a proper manner with the other kids. Through socialization, the general health of a child is triggered hence enabling autistic children to regain health.

Remarkably, music plays a significant role as it acts as an avenue to an autistic children’s behavior improvements in that it assists them in learning how to follow instructions and directions hence improving their mental health. Usually, the health of a person is characterized by good mental capability which influences their behavior positively. A study carried out in 2012 involved a survey of forty-one autistic children for ten months, and it depicted that music therapy sessions made on a weekly basis improved the overall mental behavior of the children (See, 2012). The children in the study practiced a monitored one hour sessions of music therapy in every week, and the results depicted that approximately half of the group improved their behaviors in noisiness, restlessness as well as aggression. According to health professionals, music links motor parts and the auditory areas of the brain hence enabling the autistic individuals to improve their behaviors hence improvement in health to a greater extent (See, 2012).

On the same note, autistic children are extremely sensitive to anxiety as compared to an average child. They have a small tolerance and little emotional responses which adversely affect their health emotionally. Therefore, music therapy plays a critical role in controlling emotions to some extent as well as contributing to reducing anxiety. For example, a study carried out in 2006 by the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse depicted that tension can be cut in music therapy hence health improvement (Berger, 2008). Precisely, the study involved twenty-minute sessions which were held for sixteen times to special children with autism. During the study, the participants were subjected to regular music listening, and the results showed that anxiety among the autism patients decreased and their overall health improved. For instance, a steady rhythmic music or classical music is usually the best beneficial kind of music for controlling anxiety in autistic children since the beat of the music is predictable. Also, incorporating music in daily routines of the children with autism assists in decreasing anxious behaviors as well as in increasing tolerance for frustration. Therefore, listening to melodies, rhythmic patterns as well as beats helps children with autistic to control their feelings by improving their emotional reactions hence improving their universal health.

Furthermore, the overall health of a child depends on their reasoning power. Autism disorder interferes with the cognitive capability of a child. However, music has proved to improve the health of autistic children by enhancing the cognitive skills (Juslin and Slobada, 2010). For instance, music has varied rhythm patterns which are structured for children with autism for organizing sensory information. Rhythmic and melodic patterns enable autistic children to establish a visual information as well as help them in melodies memorization and pitch categorization. Development of rhythm in music provides a supportive tool for learning daily practices and memorization which in turn improves mental health. Repetitive training on music enhances a multi-sensory experience since the music Cognitive Neuroscience illustrates that, the visual, auditory, sensory, motor as well as the prefrontal cortex are all firing when music is made (MacDonald et al., 2012). Henceforth, music is perfectly fit for improving the health of the autistic children since it appeals and engages to their sensory needs as well as strengths hence improving their mental capabilities and general health to a greater extent (Juslin and Slobada, 2010).

In summary, the health of a child depends on their completeness of their mental, social as well as the physical well-being hence music therapy plays a significant role in improving the health of an autistic child. For instance, children who have autism have a challenge in communication, failure in understanding what other people say, as well as controlling their emotions. Therefore, music therapy plays a significant role in improving the wellness of an autistic child (Jessica, 2017). Studies depict that use of music therapy can reduce the disorder but cannot entirely cure the disease. Remarkably, music therapy mainly meant for autistic children involves dancing music, playing musical instruments, singing as well as listening to music melodies, beats, and rhythmic patterns which improve wellness and health of an autistic child. Notably, music stimulates mental functionality hence improving cognitive responses. Playing musical instruments as well as sharing musical devices by children with autism helps them to develop their social interaction skills. Additionally, music has a rhythm that enables the autistic children to memorize and remember well hence improving their mental capabilities. Henceforth, it is evident that music plays a critical role in enhancing and improving the health of a child with autism by improving their physical and mental capabilities.

 

References

Berger, D. S. (2008). Music therapy, sensory integration, and the autistic child. London: Jessica Kingsley.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130219140100.htm

Jessica, D. (2017). Music and Autism: The Benefits of Music for Special Needs Children. Available at: http://takelessons.com/blog/music-and-autism-z15

Juslin, P.N and Slobada, J.A. (eds) (2010). Handbook of music and emotion: Theory, research, applications. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kim, J., Wigram, T., & Gold, C. (2009). Emotional, motivational and interpersonal responsiveness of children with autism in improvisational music therapy. Autism, 13(4), 389-409.

MacDonald, R. A. R., Kreutz, G., & Mitchell, L. A. (2012). Music, health, and wellbeing. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

See, C. M. (2012). The Use of Music and Movement Therapy to Modify Behaviour of Children with Autism. Pertanika J. Soc. Sci. & Hum. 20 (4): 1103 – 1116