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Music Therapy 101: Maximizing Your Early Intervention Therapy Time

Posted Aug 25 2011 1:32pm

Puzzle This is the first post in my Music Therapy 101 for the Newly Diagnosed series. Be sure to check out my other posts in the series and comment with any thoughts or questions.

Many parents who have received a diagnosis of Autism can relate to the scramble to find services for their children, the question of what therapies to pursue, and the constant worry that what they are doing for their child is not enough. Since Autism is typically diagnosed around the age of 2-3, quickly implementing early intervention therapy can give your child an excellent chance at making advances.

Early Intervention Therapies are therapies that typically take place between birth and age 5. Therapies administered during this time often have a significant impact on functioning in later life for social, communication, physical, academic, and emotional skills.

Most early intervention programs consist of speech, physical, and occupational therapy. These are wonderful therapies and have helped multitudes of children, but including an integrating therapy program for your child can help them further develop skills, receive needed information in a variety of ways, and generalize the desired behaviors into other settings.

This is where Music Therapy comes in!

When I speak to parents of children with autism, I am often asked a few key questions that relate to improving early intervention:

What difference will it make to our current treatment regimen?

Music Therapy brings a difference to the treatment regimen in that the skills that are worked on it traditional therapies are presented in a new, more accessible manner to the child. This can be accomplished through the therapist nonverbally presenting activities within the structure of music, interactive musical play where motor, social, emotional, and communication goals are met, or by simply being more motivating and enjoyable for the child.

Music Therapy can become a treatment that your child looks forward to. Since the therapist utilizes music, children are naturally attracted to it, more likely to participate, enjoy participating, and work to meet their goals. You are also likely to find your child at home, imitating music from sessions, and working on those skills outside of the therapy setting.

How is it different from other therapies?

Music Therapy does not focus on a particular developmental area like traditional therapies do. Music Therapy focuses on the usage of music to develop skills in a variety of areas, and often simultaneously. This allows music therapy to be flexible to meet your child’s needs, focus on areas that need addressing, and use your child’s strengths to help them grow.

This focus also allows music therapy to serve as an integrator across developmental areas. Whereas one therapy may focus only on getting dressed in the morning, music therapy can address those skills, the sequencing required to complete the task, as well as the verbal and social skills to ask for help, and to know not to walk out of the house undressed.

 Music Therapy is a natural addition to your child’s early intervention program. By helping them get the most out of those early years of therapy, your child will be better prepared for school and the rest of their life.

Stay tuned for the next post in the series, Music Therapy: Early Intervention’s Secret Weapon.

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