Music can be an important part of children’s therapeutic activities! While some children will participate in Music Therapy, conducted by a trained Music Therapist, other children will experience music in their speech-language or occupational therapy sessions. Some families will find that music therapy is not often covered by insurance; however, music in therapy may be. When music is incorporated into existing speech-language or occupational therapy sessions, there are numerous benefits for children.
Speech-Language Benefits of Including Music in Therapy:
- Promotes attention and engagement: Music is a great motivator! Children may be more motivated during sessions and may pay better attention. They may also demonstrate improved engagement with their clinicians during therapy sessions involving music.
- Builds imitation: Music can help to develop both verbal (e.g. singing) and non-verbal (e.g. gesturing) skills. Phrases with musical intonation are easier to imitate.
- Enhances Skills: Frequent repetition in songs can increase vocabulary (e.g. singing Old McDonald Had a Farm to target animal names) and language skills.
- Encourages peer interactions: Learning age-appropriate songs can help build social skills and strengthen peer interactions.
- Increases carryover: Children may begin to associate songs they are learning in school, at home, and in therapy in a positive way! Parents can carryover skills learned in therapy as a fun and easy way to maximize their child’s potential at home.
Occupational Benefits of Including Music in Therapy:
- Assists in orientation: The vestibular system, which is located in the ears, informs children where their bodies and heads are in space. The movement and sound systems both process vibrations, and each system activates one another. This relationship allows children to understand where they are in space by creating a map of their body (body awareness) from sound and movement. A better understanding of their bodies results in improved motor planning and coordination for children.
- Develops sequencing and timing: The rhythm of music or the vibrations in children’s ears can assist in improving timing and sequencing of body movements, resulting in overall improved body coordination.
- Supports core development: When the auditory system is activated by sound, it elicits children’s postural muscles. Postural muscles (core muscles) help kids to maintain an erect, seated posture, which allows them to establish the location of the sound.
- Gains using the Therapeutic Listening Program: A trained occupational therapist utilizes this sound based program in combination with sensory integrative treatment techniques to promote improved sensory processing. This modified music plays higher and lower frequencies than typical music. The music stimulates the inner ear muscle to pay attention to foreground sounds and to ignore background sounds. This decreases sensitivities to sounds improves attention and focus, and improves many other skills.
Music can be a wonderful addition to any speech-language or occupational therapy session.
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Article Contributor: Sara Probasco