How Music Therapy Sessions Assist Autistic People Lead Better Lives
Autistic teen Jones, when asked about his passion towards music, replied in an affirmative tone. He gleefully replied, “Sounds are wonderful and I love them.”
Jones further added that sounds of police car sirens or ambulances make him nervous and increase his heartbeat.
Jones sometimes sings before he speaks. Maria Hodermarska, an arts therapist who also specialises as a drama therapist, says, “We normally come across these situations in individuals who could have had a stroke or any other traumatic event that had a strong impact on their brain development.”
Maria adds, “In such situations, the capacity to do alternative activities such as singing or humming remains while the speech center gets impacted since these are two different brain regions.”
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Maria Hodermarska is Jones’ mum and an active therapist.
She says, “I believe that part of my son’s brain was fully developed.” She recalls that her son is unable to make the simplest of requests even though he is capable of singing songs.
Music therapies change as autistic people grow up, says the mother. She further acknowledges qualitative benchmarks are at times challenging and difficult to measure.
During a recent study, researchers from Norwegian institute found music therapies plus regular care for autistic children could not yield improved results as their symptom severities were of a higher order.
Christian Gold from Grieg Academic Music Research Centre led the study by looking at a group of 364 autistic children.
Out of these, half of the group were reassigned to enhanced care for five consecutive months while the remaining were assigned to standard care. The children were in the age bracket of 5 to 7 years old. The study took place in nine different countries.
Enhanced care included normal routine care with parent counselling included in an attempt to have a more transparent discussion whilst aiming to discuss greater concerns.
In other words, Gold recounts, “Enhanced care was a premium language and therapy session that concentrated more on sensory training therapy and communication training.”
In music therapy sessions, trained musicians play or sing music to help children tune in and get their focus on the impending tasks.
Donna Murray says that in the USA, musical therapy classes are child-led music. Children-led music is a kind of therapy in which the therapist sings with the child.
These activities help them build their creativity by involving them in a creative environment.
After observing for five consecutive months, the researchers observed the amount of severity improvements in both the groups was negligible.
Gold said one reason could be that children end up getting many things simultaneously. Sometimes too much is not good.
The team further observed that children who were subjected to musical therapies along with standard care were seen to have a lesser interest in other related therapies.
This could mean a “backfire.”
Nevertheless, the researchers found no significant difference in the social measurement between both groups involved.
In conclusion, the study doesn’t support the usage of improvisational music therapies, which otherwise claim to reduce symptoms in autistic children.