Five Ways Music Programs Can Help Children with Autism
It’s no secret that music is a powerful force. But did you know that children on the autism spectrum can benefit greatly from participating in music programs? They can be a wonderful outlet for creativity, whether it’s a group event or individual lessons. Here are five amazing benefits music programs can have for a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD):
Music can improve communication. It increases the tolerance of sounds, usually a constant struggle for those with autism. Without chaos in his ears, your child can more effectively listen and attempt to communicate. Music has also been known to help develop meaningful gestures, sounds and language that can carry over to everyday life.
Music can make your child brave. Even the most reserved children with ASD have been shown to respond to the beautiful power of music, sometimes even bursting into dance. Its comforting effect gives the confidence to interact with others, perhaps even perform for them. (And if your child loves playing an instrument but fears an upcoming performance, take a cue from my friend, Jess. Her daughter, who is on the autism spectrum, absolutely ADORES Cyndi Lauper, so when she began to feel anxious over her upcoming piano recital, Jess asked her daughter if a special ’80s-inspired costume would give her more courage. So, Jess’s daughter rocked her recital in neon leggings, fingerless gloves and roughly a dozen necklaces and never looked more carefree!)
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Music programs provide an outlet for self-expression. One of the most important things you can teach any child is the importance of creative self-expression, and music is an excellent channel. He can sit and listen intently, dance around the room, or even just close his eyes and sing along. Whatever his preference, giving him the opportunity to respond however he likes allows not only for free self-expression but also provides a sense of control he probably rarely feels.
They’re also a great way to build social skills. Music is a universal language that can overcome all kinds of borders and bring people together. A group program where your child listens to music, takes turns playing instruments and/or plays together with the group can teach her invaluable social skills. Coming together around a similar interest can make it easier for your child to relate to others, and music can be the ultimate shared bond.
You can incorporate lessons into your daily routine. Music can actually make daily tasks easier and more enjoyable. Make up a simple song to accompany challenging everyday responsibilities like getting dressed for school. Keep a steady, calm rhythm as you perform each step and recite your verse. (“Putting on my socks, today is gonna rock!”) Keeping a constant steady rhythm could help your child quiet any commotion around him and focus on the task at hand.
Many parents are surprised at what a tremendous difference music can make for children on the autism spectrum. With such great benefits, it’s certainly worth a try! Get your child involved in a music program for an experience they’ll never forget!
Vee Cecil is a wellness coach, personal trainer, and bootcamp instructor. Vee is passionate about studying and sharing her findings in wellness through her recently-launched blog.