Benefits of Music for Children with Special Needs

PDO 5 Music

Do you remember learning your ABCs as a child?

For most of us, it was through the ABC song. Years later, when it came time for us to start placing words in alphabetical order in school, how many of us silently sang the ABC song in our head to help us get it right? In addition to using the ABC song to learn the alphabet, many of the classic children’s songs we learned growing up incorporated fine and/or gross motor movements, such The Itsy Bitsy Spider, If You’re Happy and You Know It, and Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.

Music is a powerful tool for learning and development. According to the American Music Therapy Association, music provides the following benefits for young children:

  • Music stimulates all of the senses and involves the child at many levels. This “multimodal approach” facilitates many developmental skills.
  • Quality learning and maximum participation occur when children are permitted to experience the joy of play. The medium of music therapy allows this play to occur naturally and frequently.
  • Music is highly motivating, yet it can also have a calming and relaxing effect. Enjoyable music activities are designed to be success-oriented and make children feel better about themselves.
  • Music therapy can help a child manage pain and stressful situations.
  • Music can encourage socialization, self-expression, communication, and motor development.
  • Because the brain processes music in both hemispheres, music can stimulate cognitive functioning and may be used for remediation of some speech/language skills.

Music therapy can also be used to address the needs of children with specific conditions. Specific songs or instruments (such as whistles or kazoos) can be used for oral motor exercises. A lot of information can be taught using music as a mnemonic device. Playing certain instruments can help with fine motor skills. Group music activities support positive social experiences and turn-taking and music inherently provides structure.

Music is universally appealing to all ages and cultures, and as such can be used and adapted to the individual child’s specific needs and has been shown to have a positive impact on individuals with Down syndrome, autism, ADD/ADHD, Tourette syndrome, brain trauma, and a host of other conditions. Talk to your therapist about ways you can incorporate music into your child’s therapy homework.

Many children can benefit from music therapy. If you’d like to learn more about this option, contact our friend Beth Hampshire, NMT, MT-BC, of Music Therapy Services of Greater Atlanta. Beth offers music therapy at the Kid’s Creek Therapy office for your convenience.

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