Autism and music

Autism and music

Sophie’s Story
Sophie is autistic. She plays the drums and plays them that well that she has integrated into the main stream music class at Taree Public School and is assisting ACMF music teacher Matt Zarb teach drums to the kindergarten kids.  Sophie is a perfect example of the magic of music therapy.



Music therapy is applied in the treatment of autism

Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder that affects children, and its effects can be seen as early as infancy.  Symptoms may appear at the age of six months, and the disorder is established before the child reaches three years of age.  Typical symptoms of autism include impaired communication and social interaction, repetitive behavior, and limited interest.  Autism is considered a disorder because it prevents the affected person from being self-dependent and leading a normal life.  Most autistic people are unable to take care of themselves, even after they reach adulthood, but there are a number of them who have succeeded in becoming independent after they received proper guidance during their childhood.

Music therapy helps in treating autistic children, but it has to be applied with kids in mind. It should not be too complicated for them to follow.  Music that engages autistic children in dancing and singing works very well in helping them communicate and develop social skills.  Autistic children respond to music by singing in the same note, and some of them may even start communicating through singing.  They may take up an instrument to play, and this will help them gain interest in acquiring a certain skill.  Music therapy can help different autistic patients in different ways, but generally, it is beneficial to them because it makes them more responsive to things around them.

The reason behind such great response to music is that autistic children do not engage in normal social activities, and music sessions give them an opportunity to express themselves.  Music therapy for an autistic child starts with learning how to play a musical instrument, as he or she may get intimidated by human contact.  Slowly, the therapy moves on to include singing and even dancing, if the child shows interest for such activities.  This gives the child an emotional outlet as well as a sense of fulfillment, which were lacking in the past because of limited social activity.

Autism is not a disease, but it can be detrimental to the development of a child. Extra care must be given when dealing with an autistic child.  Even though the child may respond positively to music, it is important to seek help from an expert in music therapy.  A music therapist will know exactly what kind of treatment plan is effective in helping an autistic child.  It is also important to note that a disorder such as autism cannot be treated in a day, and it requires time, effort, and a lot of patience.