How music can help those with ASD?
Music is an all-around wellness booster that research shows have spectacular results for neurodiverse kids. As a parent, you could be wondering what makes music so special. You could also be curious to know how it affects the nervous system.
We dug up research that helps answer these questions. Read on and learn how music helps people with ASD.
What makes music so special?
Music is one of the few aspects of humanity that transcend geographical and cultural differences. In every culture in the world, you can find it. It is no wonder people call music the one true universal language.
But what makes music special for people with ASD?
Research shows that music engages the entire brain. It is not just a tool that tunes our emotions but can also boost physical health and intellectual development. Music therapy uses unique musical experiences to achieve various health care and educational objectives.
For people with ASD, music therapy can help:
- Cope with stressful situations
- Build cognitive skills
- Boost personal expression
- Enhance language development and retention
- Improve social interaction
- Jack up the ability to focus
- Promote self-reliance and self-determination
- Improve Physical coordination
Read on and learn how music therapy helps people with ASD.
Helps children with ASD cope with stressful situations
Children with ASD could experience ‘meltdowns’ when they encounter overwhelming issues. Sometimes it may be a simple thing like loud music or bright flashing lights that trigger the meltdown.
Music can help the child better cope with the anxiety trigger by soothing them. You can use music to soothe a child with ASD until they overcome whatever triggered the anxiety.
Builds cognitive ability
Rhythmic and melodic patterns within music stimulate cognitive development in children with ASD. For example, keeping up with the tempo helps to build and reinforce mathematical concepts like counting. On the other hand, differentiating between high and low pitches, fast and slow tempos, and various musical dynamics helps them develop contrast.
Musical play supports learning by allowing repetition in a playful and captivating manner.
Boost personal expression
Music is often a collaborative activity. Learning to play or sing with another person can help build self-confidence and self-esteem. The children’s emotional development grows as they express themselves through singing and instrument playing.
As they develop into more complex musical experiences, like being part of an ensemble and participating in public performances, self-confidence grows. Similarly, their desire and ability to self-express also grow.
Enhance language development and retention
When a child in the spectrum sings, they engage the elements of music – rhythm, pulse, melody, and intensity. These elements have an intricate connection with stress patterns and the contours of language.
Singing enhances auditory perception and processing and enables the child to produce more cohesive sounds. This boosts their language development and retention.
Improve physical coordination
As we mentioned in the opener, music engages the entire brain – both left and right hemispheres. As your child listens to music, it improves neurological and perceptual integration.
As the child grows in their understanding of rhythm, they also build motor skills. For instance, musical play enables autistic kids to coordinate movements as they act upon their singing.
Improve social interaction
Engaging in musical experiences can boost verbal and non-verbal communication. It also helps the kids develop initiating behavior, social interaction, and socio-emotional reciprocity.
Group musical experiences help the participants learn how to read the action and facial expressions of others. They also grasp turn-taking and develop an appreciation for others’ contributions. Thus, building a sense of community.
Jacks up the ability to focus
Most songs have repetitive parts. When autistic children participate in music, they learn to anticipate a particular phrase, chord, or melody. When they hear it, it’s a cue to do their part (sing, play an instrument, or move the body). This anticipation jacks up their ability to focus and improves (they can do it for extended periods).
Promotes self-reliance and self-determination
Besides enhancing the ability to focus, music boosts self-determination skills. These skills help children with autism spectrum disorder make choices, set goals, and assist in problem-solving. They also help in self-monitoring and self-advocating and are essential for developing autonomy and independence.
Studies show that music therapy can promote self-determination among children with ASD.
Final remarks – is there a type of music best for kids with ASD?
From the above, it is clear that music is an indispensable support tool for parents with kids with ASD. But is there a type of music that works best?
The type of music is improvisational and depends on the kid’s temperament. Fortunately, music is diverse. Whether the kid loves fast or slow, classical or modern, they cannot miss a tune that strikes their chords.
Parents should work with certified professionals and combine music therapy with other management strategies like medication. This way therapy becomes more effective and targeted.