Encore! The Benefits of Music Therapy for Individual With Disabilities

Music therapy is a process that helps developmentally disabled individuals improve their mental and physical abilities as well as their self-esteem. Needs are addressed through music therapy and relationships are fostered between the therapist and individual. Music therapy is not only therapeutic for the ear but the mind and body as well. During interaction, it is important for people with disabilities to have to look forward to activity that is both advantageous and encouraging. Interaction teaches individuals how to communicate better and improve decision-making skills. It also facilitates communication and socialization among staff and individuals. Communicative development varies with individuals because of functioning ability. Communication tools increase the ability to initiate, anticipate, engage, and interact. At times, a person can have difficulty using objects based on joint attention, difficulty in interpretation, and motivation however since music is a universal language, people are able to find different ways to communicate.

When people hear music they can either feel a burst of excitement, or energy, when listening to an upbeat tempo. Conversely, listening to a classical piece may place the person in a soothing mood. Studies show that music affects the overall health of any person including respiration, heart rate and blood pressure. Music therapy communicates with the body through beats, melodies and lyrics and releases stress relieving hormones. The stress of living and managing a disability can be difficult for any individual. There are many things that an individual can encounter while dealing with a disability such as emotional, social and behavioral issues.

Individuals with disabilities who are considered to be introverts can also benefit from music therapy. The opportunity to use music as a therapeutic tool can also help mentally ill individuals from negative thoughts or with traumatic experiences. Therapy tends to garner positive results and effectiveness when it is supported not only by the individual but their environment. Environment includes family, friends, community and surroundings. With support the individual will be able to improve social awareness, academics, gross and fine motor skills and attention span. Music therapy can also decrease maladaptive behaviors and reinforce positive behaviors. One facet of music therapy that usually yields positive results is karaoke. Karaoke is an interactive form of entertainment where amateur singers perform various songs with recorded music and lyrics. Karaoke is used to improve socialization and self-esteem of any individual. If an individual is able to perform a favorite song and receive praise from peers, family or staff, the mood of the individual will be significant.

Music is known as a universal language and used to bring people together from unique walks of life. Different types of music and instruments help individuals cultivate old skills or develop new skills. For individuals with disabilities, music therapy is very rewarding regarding building self-esteem and overall participation. A person who has increased self-esteem will be able to achieve attainable goals, interact with the community and foster relationships.