Several researches have proven, time and again, that music therapy can benefit individuals of all abilities and ages. Such therapy has been used to support cognitive, social and emotional development in people across races, countries and communities. It can also help promote wellness by enhancing memory, improving communication skills and managing stress. Researchers have also shown that children and teenagers, who have been suffering from autism, can benefit a lot with music therapy. It helps improve their social behavior, better their communication attempts in terms of gestures, verbalizations, vocabulary and vocalizations, reduce their anxiety, increase their attention and focus, and even improve their body coordination and awareness. A few studies even show that both adults and children with autism spectrum disorders or ASD respond very well to music. This is why music is considered to be a potential therapeutic tool for treating autism.
Here's how it can help children with autism:
Music encourages social interaction- Kids, who suffer from autism, show more social engagement and emotional expression during music therapy sessions, as compared to the play sessions, without music. They also respond to the requests of the therapist if there is music in the session. Moreover, a trained and experienced therapist can use music to improve the social skills and increase the social interaction of these kids. Playing different types of movement and music games, passing and sharing instruments, learning to listen, singing greetings songs and gathering around a central instrument are some of the ways that a therapist can use to increase such interactions.
Music helps improve communication - Almost thirty percent of kids with autism are non-verbal. Again, there are many kids who can't follow verbal commands or understand body languages. Studies have proven that music improves the mapping of sounds to actions. This is done by connecting the motor and auditory sections of the brain. This helps improve the understanding of verbal commands. With the help of repetitive training and by pairing music with actions, the speaking skills of these children can be improved.
Music helps improve one's behavior - With some studies conducted over a span of ten months, it has been proven that weekly music therapy sessions improve overall behavior of kids with autism, especially when it comes to dealing with inattentive behavior. In a particular study, children were exposed to hour-long sessions of music therapy, once in a week, and their conduct was tracked against a checklist of certain behaviors. The results showed significant improvement in their observable behavior.
Surely, music therapy can be very useful and rewarding for children with autism.