Musical Therapy has proven effective as a non-invasive, widely- applicable treatment, especially for patients with learning and developmental disabilities, behavioural problems and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Similarly, the link between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and music dates back to the beginnings of research on autism some 80 years ago, due to the profound impact it has been having on patients. For some forms of ASD like autistic disorder, music can even become the primary mode of communication and engagement.
From improved communication skills to better sleep, autistic children and adults have been aided in their battle with the difficulties they encounter, just by introducing music to their everyday lives and therapy.
MUSICAL THERAPY CAN IMPROVE SOCIAL COMMUNICATION IN AUTISTIC CHILDREN
One of the most common merits of musical therapy in autism cases is the amazing impairment in social relations. Autism is a disorder characterized by communication difficulties, reduced social interaction and limited repetitive behavior. Children with autism who go through some kind of a musical therapy programme show better socialization skills, they make more eye contact, are more willing to share experiences and participate in dialogues.
Music is a tool for communication, it opens doors that verbal language cannot, and enables children with autism to express themselves more clearly and openly. Research done on the influence of music on autistic children concluded that traditional musical therapy can very much help patients develop better body language and spoken language skills. It also leads to more motivated and emotionally stable personas, boosts self-confidence in children and urges them to engage in communication situations more often.
Music improves attention, body awareness, focus and communication in teens and children with autism. It supports autistic people’s comprehension in daily routines. Autistic people have higher abilities in musical preference, emotion labeling in music and pitch processing compared to their peers.
MUSIC REDUCES STRESS AND ANXIETY IN PATIENTS WITH AUTISM
Like with everyone suffering from occasional stress and restlessness, music can have healing powers with autistic patients as well. People with ASD often struggle to communicate their thoughts and wishes with others, which leads to strong emotional outbursts and frustration, especially by children.
Listening to soothing music relaxes your body by reducing cortisol, the stress hormone. The music controls your heart rate, decreasing stress hormones and lowering blood pressure. For people with mental disorders, it provides an effective treatment enabling them to calm down and concentrate.
Furthermore, pleasant music activates your brain’s reward center releasing dopamine thus leading to lowered pain. Active engagement in dancing or singing increases pain tolerance. Including music as a part of cognitive therapy for autistic people can in this way be beneficial, since it helps in reducing agitation and improving focus, making the patients more responsive to therapy and willing to participate and make progress.
MUSIC CAN GIVE A SENSE OF PURPOSE AND FULFILMENT
Apart from the amazing benefits of musical therapy, incorporating music into an autistic person’s life can be transformative in so many fantastic ways. Music makes people happier; it connects us and awakens instinctive powers. Everyone can relate to some form of music and feel the connection to it.
Patients with mental disorders deal with a lot of pain in mental and emotional ways and music can bring some relief to those everyday struggles. It makes people focus on the present moment, just enjoying the melody and the beauty of now. Music is medicine for over-thinking, self-doubt and confusion.
Many parents of autistic children and adolescents witnessed their children blossom after introducing music to their lives. Many discover prodigy-like talents for playing an instrument or singing and eventually follow a musical career. For others, music is an effective emotional outlet for stress and worries, it’s a creative and engaging hobby that brings a sense of fulfillment, increases self-esteem and gives a sense of belonging.
If you know someone with autism, or you suffer from ASD yourself, try using music as a healing tool. In any case, music will bring overall joy and excitement to everything you do. Musical therapy has proven efficient in many autistic patients, but incorporating it as a part of other forms of cognitive therapy will only empower the process of treatment and stimulate progress.
Simon Dupree has discovered he has a passion for music from a very young age. Ever since then, music has been an essential part of his life. When he is not practicing, he`s probably behind the keyboard writing for Music Groupies.