Music Therapy and Autism

July 7, 2008 · Print This Article

Music Therapy and Autism: How the Right Notes Can Help

Autism is a disorder of the brain that results in communication difficulties and the inability to behave normally in social situations. The symptoms of autism usually show themselves within the first three years of life. Some people experience less severe autism symptoms and can eventually live a semi-independent life. Unfortunately, those with severe autism often must continue to live at home throughout adulthood. This is a very serious disease and as with any disease, there are many different proposed treatments. One of the most highly recognized and used treatments for autism is music therapy.

Music therapy and autism have a fantastic relationship. Most autistic persons have a love for music, and this of course makes it essential to use music therapy as a treatment. Music therapy and autism treatment works well because of the almost obsessive interest autistic persons have in music. As a result, using music therapy to treat autism has a very good rate of positive response. The theory behind the relationship between the positive results of music therapy and autism is rooted in the way autistic people typically view other people and social situations. Music provides a non-intrusive way for the autistic person to be exposed to stimulation without becoming threatening or requiring the autistic person to interact directly with other people.

There are many different ways autistic persons can be helped with music therapy. For example, certain music therapies can foster an autistic person’s desire to communicate with others; external stimuli like music can help to break patterns of isolationism in autistic persons. Music therapy can even be used to treat some of the motility problems experienced by autistic persons as well as help facilitate language usage and comprehension. All of these positive results of music therapy and autism increase the autistic person’s social abilities, and this is one of the most important things to focus on in the average autism patient.

It is important to remember that while music therapy and autism treatment have a lot of major benefits, some autistic persons can be overwhelmed by music therapy. Over-stimulation can be the result of some music therapies, so it is vital that music therapists are qualified to work with autism patients and that they are completely familiar with the patient before beginning therapy. All autistic persons are different, and this is the reason why one type of autistic person might benefit from music therapy and autism patients of another type might be harmed. Sometimes, autistic persons can become consumed with music and this can foster the wrong types of behaviors like further isolation and withdrawal. These possible difficulties should not suggest that all autistic persons will have negative reactions to music therapy. When applied correctly and to the right individual, music therapy and autism treatment can definitely help many autistic persons.

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