Music and Autism: Does it Really Help?

Music and Autism: Does it Really Help?

We all enjoy music.  It has the ability to enhance a mood or pull us out of a funk, allows us to experience a deep range of emotions, and occasionally acts as a means of expression.  We use music to help us focus, drown out other noise, and motivate us when the house needs cleaning!  We sing in the shower, in the car, and to put kids to sleep.  There are so many ways in which music benefits our lives, so it should come as no surprise that it can also be used as a therapeutic tool for those who suffer from autism.

This idea is nothing new.  In fact, using music as a way to facilitate communication, increase responsiveness, or simply calm and focus those with autism has been in practice since the 1950s.  People realized pretty early on that humans, regardless of ability (or disability), tend to respond to music innately.  Because of this, not only can you utilize music as a way to interact with autistic loved ones, but you can also find a variety of ways to implement it, as well as specialist to help you plan and carry out a regimen of treatment.

There are several ways in which music therapy can be used to benefit an individual with autism.  For starters, just listening to music can affect them in various ways.  It is a form of stimulation that can be both positive and non-threatening (as it does not rely on human interaction).  In addition, parents, siblings, or other caregivers may be able to draw out or calm autistic individuals by repeatedly singing certain songs.  Another form of therapy involves allowing the autistic individual to choose and play an instrument, which can be an excellent form of expression and an outlet for creativity (especially since many people with autism tend to appreciate musical instruments as intriguing objects even before they come to view them as a mode of interaction).  Finally, you may find that music prompts an autistic individual to sing or dance, which may also provide for a means of self-expression or interaction that was previously unavailable.

In terms of implementing a plan for musical therapy, you will want to consult with a specialist since the range of autistic disorders may cause them to react differently to various types of treatment.  Certain sounds, instruments, tones, or types of music that appeal to one person may not work with another.  But on the whole, music and music therapy has shown an overwhelmingly positive response in autistic patients.  They are often able to improve either verbal or non-verbal communication (or both), not only in terms of speech, but also comprehension.  They may also be able to use musical expression as a means to connect with others when none existed before.  And further benefits could include improved social skills, a stronger desire to communicate (rather than withdraw), and the reduction of non-communicative speech such as echolalia.  And if nothing else, it may provide an autistic individual with a form of self-expression that at least allows them to interact with the outside world.

Kyle Simpson is a writer for Medical Coding where you can brose medical coding schools and industry jobs.

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