When we care for a child with Autism, it can seem as if there a million different pieces of advice which we should be following, to support our kids as well as possible. Friends, professionals, teachers and healthcare experts all have different views on the best way to provide help for our kids, and it can be difficult to know what the best course of action may be to give our children the right support to thrive. However, every now and then a piece of research comes along in to the treatment of Autism which is undeniably positive, for its common sense, proven effects and simplicity. One of the latest pieces of advice for parents, teachers and carers of children with Autism is the power of music in assisting cognitive development and emotional wellbeing. Use of music therapy has already shown great results for improving temperament in children with Autism, supporting them to develop stronger learning skills and knowledge acquisition. More importantly, it is a fun and interactive way of providing great stimulation for our children. When you consider the huge impact music has upon our everyday lives overall, its unsurprising that it has a positive effect upon children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Music is such a huge influence upon all of us – we listen to it every single day, through television programs or radio shows. We sing along in the car on journeys to pass the time, and the power of popular music is manifest in the latest wave of reality TV shows which encourage people to call in and vote for the songs we appreciate the most. Music therapy takes this very integrated quality and uses it to advantage. Therapy can be carried out in conjunction with other activities such as social development, and provides a gentle and passive way for parents to communicate with their children in a natural and engaging way. The majority of games developed for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder can be played along to music, encouraging eye contact and supporting children to take part in the therapy without feeling as if they have been coerced or pushed in to participating. Our brains react in a unique way when we hear music being played. The speech and language functions we all display are assisted greatly through music, as the patterns of rhythm and cadence are very similar to those used in speech. This means that linguistic development can be enhanced through musical play and therapy almost as an aside, bringing a wealth of advantages when children with Autism engage in this kind of play. Using musical instruments promotes social skills, as all percussive items sound better when played in a group rather than alone, and closeness enhances the sound produced. Many children with Autism Spectrum Disorder may find it difficult to communicate effectively, and music provides a non-threatening and safe platform for self-expression which takes away the shyness associated with vocalizing individually. No one needs to have a particular talent for singing or rhythm to have great fun with musical instruments, feeling part of a group who are all working together to achieve a single aim – to make a tune. Many Autistic children have a flair for music, however, and this can provide a source of encouragement and pride for kids who have aptitude, supporting the development of memory and providing a platform for communicating emotions. Despite the huge differences between children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and the unique talents and skills of each, it seems that musical therapy can provide a bridge to bring everyone together, in a non-threatening, safe and enjoyable way. There are groups springing up across the US and beyond providing great opportunities for making music, and this could be just the activity you and your child are looking for to support them in the best possible way to find their voice.
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