Benefits of Music Therapy for Special Needs Children
Music therapy is a well-established, evidence-based professional health discipline that uses music to achieve non-musical, therapeutic treatment goals. Formal music therapy was first used in 1945 to help military service members in Army hospitals with occupational therapy, education, recreation, and physical reconditioning.1 Recognized as a related service for children with special needs, music therapy may include listening to music and learning to enjoy the sound and lyrics. It could include singing, playing instruments, or composing music, but musical skills or talents are not required to participate in music therapy. It could also be coordinating movements to music like a dance or even just rhythmic clapping.
Music therapy can promote learning and skill acquisition to help the child attain educational goals. According to the American Music Therapy Association, music is processed by a different area of the brain than speech and language, so a child may be able to absorb information when associated with music.2 Connecting an educational concept to music can serve as an initial assist in teaching the new concept. How many of us learned the alphabet by singing our ABCs?
Rhythmic movement to music is a fun way to develop gross motor skills such as mobility, agility, balance, and coordination. And it can help reduce muscle tension.
Music therapy can also have psychological, social, and emotional benefits. Music may provide a distraction from physical discomfort or anxiety associated with physical, mental, or emotional disorders.
Listening to preferred music can enhance mood, attention, and behavior to optimize the student’s ability to learn and interact with others. Because music is reinforcing, it can be used to motivate students with special needs. Singing Jack Hartmann’s “Good Morning Song” to my stepson always gets him excited to go to school.
With evidence-based outcomes like increased attention and auditory processing, improved behavior, language, and cognitive functioning, decreased self-stimulation and agitation, increased socialization, and enhanced sensory-motor skills, music therapy is a fun way for special needs students to meet their educational goals.3
Harbor School a private special education school in Monmouth County, New Jersey
Our mission at Harbor School is to help all of our special needs students with learning, social, language, behavioral, and other disabilities. Our highly skilled staff are committed daily to helping each student reach their full potential.
We would be more than happy to discuss your child's specific needs and challenges, so please call us at 732.544.9394, or request a tour at Harbor School in Eatontown, NJ. We are located just minutes off of the Garden State Parkway at exit 105 and conveniently located off of Route 35 and Route 36 in Monmouth County, NJ.
LeRoi R. Jones,
Principal-Harbor School, Eatontown, NJ