The Benefits of Music Therapy for Autism

A professional who specializes in autism can suggest different treatment for autistic’s that can have a significant positive effect on their behavior. One such treatment is Music therapy.

Music therapy is a controlled music experience that is used to facilitate positive change in human behavior. Each session of music therapy is carefully planned, carried out, and evaluated to suit the specific needs of each patient. Music therapy can include any of the following musical activities:

o Listening to music and/or musical creation

o Playing musical instruments (any instrument can be used)

o Moving to music

o Singing

As far as autism is concerned, studies have shown that music therapy has a significant, positive influence when used to treat autistic individuals. Participating in music therapy allows autistics the opportunity to experience non-threatening outside stimulation, as they don’t engage in direct human contact.

As was previously mentioned, music therapy is made specific to each individual. This is extremely important, because what may be positively received by one autistic may be negative to another. That being said, let’s take a look at the positive influence music therapy has had on autistic individuals.

Music therapy –

Improved socio-emotional development: In the first steps of a relationship, autistics tend to physically ignore or reject the attempts of social contact made by others. Music therapy helps to stop this social withdrawal by an initial object relation with a musical instrument. Instead of seeing the instrument as threatening, autistic children are usually fascinated by the shape, feel and sound of it. Therefore, the musical instrument provides an initial point of contact between the autistic and the other individual by acting as an intermediary.

Assisted in both verbal and non-verbal communication – When music therapy is used to aid in communication, its goal is to improve the production of vocalization and speech, as well as stimulate the mental process of comprehending, conceptualizing and symbolizing. A music therapist will attempt to establish a communicative relationship between the behavior of a child with autism and a specific sound. An autistic person may have an easier time recognizing or being more open to these sounds than they would to a verbal approach. This musical awareness, and the relationship between the autistics’ actions and the music, has potential to encourage communication.

Another form of music therapy that may help with communication is to play a wind instrument (IE flute). It is thought that by playing such an instrument, you become aware of the functioning of your teeth, jaws, lips and tongue. Thus, playing a wind instrument almost mirrors the functioning required in order to produce speech vocalizations.

Encouraged emotional fulfillment – Most autistics lack the ability to affectively respond to stimuli that would otherwise allow them to enjoy an appropriate emotional charge. Thus, since most autistics respond well to music stimuli, music therapy has been able to provide autistics with an environment that is free of fear, stimuli considered threatening, etc.

During a music therapy session, an autistic individual has the freedom to behave in specific ways that allow them to discover and express themselves when they want and choose. They can make noise, bang instruments, shout and express and experience the pleasure of emotional satisfaction.

Musical therapy has also helped autistic individuals by:

o Teaching social skills

o Improving language comprehension

o Encouraging the desire to communicate

o Making creative-self expression possible

o Reducing non-communicative speech

o Decreasing echolalia (uncontrolled and instant repetition of the words spoken by another)

Keep in mind that although music therapy can have positive effects on autistic individuals, it is vital that an autistic receives such treatment from a trained and experienced musical therapist.

Treating Insomnia With Music Therapy

What is insomnia? Insomnia is a condition where people have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or having a restful night sleep. Often times people who suffer from insomnia will turn to sleeping pills to get relief. Sleeping pills is a bad idea, because it will just create more problems.

What is the problem with sleeping pills? Pills are a bad idea because most sleeping pills are addictive, and basically are just a mask to what the real problem is. It also causes problems when you interact with other medications or alcohol, which can be very serious or even deadly. People who are prescribed medication are usually supposed to be on them for a few days to a few weeks only, but because they can be addictive people tend to take them longer. Pills can also cause high blood pressure, dizziness, nausea, confusion. It also can cause bizarre behavior such as sleep walking, sleep binge eating and sleep driving, in which the person will not remember.

Why it is so important to get a good night sleep? Sleep is necessary to maintain good physical and mental health. Sleep helps you to restore your body and mind, to help with memory and learning, also to help you be in a better mood. When you are sleep deprived, your body is more prone to infections, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Also when you are sleep deprived it can effect your job performance, such as forgetfulness or making mistakes, which can cause you to lose your job. So it is very important to get a good 7-8 hours of sleep if you are an adult, and more than 8 hours if you are younger.

How do you treat insomnia with music therapy? Insomnia is usually caused by your attitude or behavior, if you can change your attitude or behavior this may change your sleep disorder. Your mind plays a big part of all this. That is how music therapy can help. Music therapy uses binaural beats to stimulate your brain to a high level of relaxation, like a meditated state, to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Binaural beats is music set to certain frequencies to stimulate a certain part of your brain that allows you to get some sleep. When listening to music therapy, use headphones to get the best results. The music is soft relaxing music, that has sounds of nature like waterfalls, birds, the ocean etc. When buying music therapy CD’s or tapes make sure that it contains binaural beats, because they sell fake ones, that claim to do the same, but do not compare, so be aware. If you have any questions on music therapy or binaural beats see link bellow.

An Overview of Music Therapy for Children With Cerebral Palsy

It is widely accepted that music and rhythm have healing powers because they speak more to our emotions than to our intellect. Distraught children often calm when sung to and the extremely find solace when listening to classical music. Music therapy and training has had consistent and profound effects on children suffering from cerebral palsy, leading to improvements in cognitive performance, spatial reasoning, verbal skills and an overall sense of well-being.

Music can actually alter the landscape of the brain, something that has been proven in recent years due to advanced imaging technology such as MRI’s. Neurologic Music Therapy is now a recognized and emerging field of science and is becoming commonplace as treatment for patients who suffer brain injuries.

Music can actually grow and heal neural pathways in the brain, linking areas dedicated to speech, touch, movement, sound and emotion, all areas of the brain required for making music. Neuroplasticity, also known as cortical re-mapping, refers to the ability of the human brain’s neural pathways and synapses to change as a result of one’s behavior, environment and neural processes. This allow the brain to reorganize itself and bypass areas of injury to promote the development of skills in other areas.

Studies have shown that fetuses are quite capable of hearing sound while in the womb and that they demonstrate a preference for the same music when they are approximately 1 year old. Music is a source of delight for children, and a pleasure that continues beyond childhood, into the teen years and beyond.

Since it has been demonstrated that music has an effect on so many parts of the brain, that it is enjoyed throughout life and that it helps facilitate brain plasticity, there is no wonder it has become a therapeutic science of its own and is used to enhance many of the traditional therapies. Therapists and researchers have documented cases where music therapy has provided profound benefits to patients with cerebral palsy. Both music and CP affect multiple areas of the brain and, even though CP is most commonly defined as an impairment of motor skills, it is also known to create disturbances in perception, behavior, communication, cognition, sensation and lead to seizure disorders. Music aids in the bridging of missed cross-brain connections.

Researchers and therapists are increasingly listing music therapy as integral part of cerebral palsy intervention. Because music can affect the brain’s ability to link movement, sound, patterns and emotion, it has effectively promoted improvements in many areas for patients with cerebral palsy, including: communication, gait control, head and torso control, hand movement, introduction of rhythms to children who are deaf, hand-eye coordination, relaxation, muscle response and group play.

Music therapy can begin in the home at virtually any age. Professional music therapists (ones who are board certified as trained in music, assessment, documentation and counseling) can be provided at no cost through state-funded programs and as a part of many IEP’s (Individualized Education Programs) in the public school systems. Music therapy is frequently a cross-therapy tool and used in conjunction with other clinical skills. Many music therapy programs are now covered by insurance plans.

How Music Therapy Can Help Eliminate Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Music may provide relief from negative stress and help you prevent anxiety and panic attacks. To achieve the best possible results, it is important to select music which has a calming effect such as meditation or classical pieces. For example, meditation music is very calming and may help produce a sense of well being, peace and harmony.

Classical and Instrumental music, especially string instruments can produce a very relaxing and peaceful state and help you avoid anxiety and panic attacks. Excellent examples of classical music that can help you enter a calm and relaxed state include many concertos, Handel’s Messiah and the Dance of the Blessed Spirits by the Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie.

Don’t overlook easily available collections of CDs which are made up of sounds of nature. such as a waterfalls, brooks or streams, the ocean, birds chirping, rustling leaves, rainfall or the wind blowing.

My mother suffered from terminal cancer and had intense pain as the cancer ravaged her system. She would listen to sounds of nature on a tape deck as therapy during her painful and very stressful cancer treatments. They produced a sense of serenity and helped her keep negative thoughts at bay.

Researchers have found that music helps reduce anxiety and our perception of pain. Studies back this up as patients awaiting and even during a surgical or other medical procedure were positively impacted by music which helped then to remain calm and reduced anxiety about the medical experience.

Additionally, researchers have determined that people who are undergoing medical treatment actually show an improvement in their immune system after the music therapy has been introduced to their treatment regimen.

This is no longer theory but is backed up by medical proof. People in stress or experiencing anxiety. There is measurable recorded proof that folks experiencing anxiety actually have a decrease in heart rate, muscle activity and temperature after the introduction of music therapy.

Harness the Power of Music Therapy Help Stop Your Anxiety Starting Today

Why not listen to calming music when you are driving on the freeway? It’s a great way to relieve stress and to avoid anxiety and panic attacks by avoiding negative thoughts while you enjoy the peaceful sounds of beautiful music.

Music can invoke wonderful memories. When I hear pieces that my grandparents enjoyed at family gathering I become calm and even happy…so much for an anxiety attack! I have now entered a different place where the thoughts are positive and stress free.

Try it and all of these music therapy ideas and see how they work for you.