What does music do to you? It may change your mood, give you energy, make you calm, help you focus, or even make you feel happier. Scientists have studied what happens to the brain when people listen to music, and they think that music affects the brain by causing it to release chemicals that can change our mood.
So what can music do for children with autism? Just like us, music can have an impact on children with autism. But for many children with autism, music maybe even more important. In this post, we will be talking about music for autism therapy and music therapy in general!
In this article we will discuss:
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a complex neurobehavioral disorder that includes impairments in social interaction and communication skills along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior. These symptoms typically develop before the age of 3.
Globally, there is an increase in children being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 59 children are on the autism spectrum.
One of the symptoms that autistic children have is their difficulty in sensory processing. This means that they may have a hard time processing and understanding information they receive through their senses may it be touch, smell, taste, sound, and sight. Because of this, music is often used to help these children calm down when they feel overwhelmed or stressed.
Music can be a very effective way to help children with autism process.
Music can make sense of the world around them. Music for autism is a non-threatening way to provide stimulation and calming sensory input. The rhythm of music can help soothe and relax them. And when children feel calm, they are better able to focus and learn.
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Moreover, research shows that music can help these children communicate by giving them away to express themselves without words. Music can also help children with autism to socialize. When children sing or play music together, they learn to take turns and share. They also learn how to respond to other people’s emotions.
Music is powerful! However, the music that will work for one child might not work for another. It is important to find music that your child responds well to.
Music activates both the left and right sides of the brain.
The left side is responsible for processing language while the right side processes melody and rhythm. For children with autism who have difficulty processing spoken language, music can be a way to bridge that gap and help them communicate better.
Aside from children learning best through music, evidence also shows that music in adults with ASD can also help. Music can lessen social anxiety and make them feel more comfortable in groups.
In stroke patients with aphasia, music has also played a big role in their recovery. Aphasia is a condition that makes it hard for people to speak and understand spoken language because of damage to the language areas of the brain. Music therapy can also help stroke patients with aphasia improve their communication skills.
So music is not just for children, it can also help adults! It can also provide a form of sensory input that can be either stimulating or calming for children with ASD. Some autistic children are sensitive to sound and may benefit from music that is soothing and calming. Other children may be under-sensitive to sound and need music that is more stimulating in order to help them focus and pay attention.
Music Therapy with autism
Evidence shows that music therapy for autism is an effective intervention. A music therapist will assess a child’s strengths, weaknesses, and interests in order to create a music-based treatment plan that is tailored specifically for that child.
What is Music Therapy?
Music therapy is an evidence-based clinical use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.
How does music therapy help children with autism?
Since every child with autism is different, we need to look at the child as a whole and design music experiences around their specific interests, abilities, and goals. Music therapy for autism should include a variety of music experiences to achieve the child’s specific goals.
A therapist will use music to address the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals with ASD. Interventions support verbal communication, social skills development, sensory needs, fine and gross motor skills, and emotional regulation.
What are the benefits of music therapy interventions for children with autism?
There are many ways music helps autistic children, but here are some of the most common. Research shows that music can be beneficial for kids with ASD in the following ways:
Music for autism therapy can improve their communication skills. It is a way to non-verbally communicate with children who have difficulty with spoken language. For example, autism calming music such as nursery rhymes or songs from their favorite cartoon show can help children with ASD learn new words and improve their receptive language skills.
Music for autism therapy can help them regulate their emotions. Research has shown that music can reduce anxiety and stress in both typically developing children and children with ASD. It can also help increase positive emotions such as happiness and joy.
Music for autism therapy can increase their social interaction. It encourages eye contact, turn-taking, and sharing. Songs can teach social rules, such as taking turns and waiting patiently.
Music therapy for autism can decrease anxiety and promote relaxation. It can help kids with ASD feel more relaxed and calm. Music can help kids with ASD deal with transitions, such as going from one activity to another.
Music for autism therapy can improve gross and fine motor skills. For example, playing drums can help improve gross motor skills, while playing the xylophone can help improve fine motor skills.
Music therapy for autism can make them feel connected to others. music can help build relationships between children with ASD and their caregivers. music can also help create a sense of community among children with ASD and their peers.
Who can provide music therapy services for children with autism?
Music therapists are trained and credentialed professionals who have completed an approved music therapy program. To find a music therapist near you, please visit the American Music Therapy Association’s website at
The bottom line is..
Music has a unique and effective way to help children with ASD reach their full potential. If you are thinking about music therapy for your child, be sure to find a certified music therapist who has experience working with children with ASD.
Music in Speech Therapy
Aside from music therapy, speech therapy also use music as a mode to help with speech development in children with ASD. Singing can help a child with ASD produce the sounds of speech more easily. Songs can teach new words and improve receptive language skills. In addition, music can help kids with ASD cope with anxiety and stress.
Just like us, children with ASD are unique individuals with their own likes, dislikes, and preferences. When it comes to music, some kids might prefer fast-paced music while others may prefer slower, more calming music. It’s important to find what type of music your child responds to and use it as a tool to help them reach their full potential.
Music intonation therapy is a type of music therapy that uses music and melody to help people with autism improve their speech. This therapy can help children with autism speak more clearly and correctly.
In another study, music was found to be helpful in reducing self-injurious behaviors in children with autism. The study found that music therapy helped reduce the frequency, intensity, and duration of self-injurious behaviors.
Autism Calming Music can help your child with autism.
There are many different types of music that can be helpful for kids with autism. Finding the perfect type of music for your child is important for them to enjoy and give a calming effect.
However, music with videos can be over-stimulating for some children with autism. This may cause a negative reaction. Parents should preview music videos before showing them to their children.
Some parents have found that music with a visual component, such as colors or pictures, can be helpful for their child with autism. There are many ways to create music visuals, including using software programs or online tools. One parent created music visuals using the website PicMonkey. She says that her son “loves watching the colors and shapes move to the music.”
Here are some examples of music that can be helpful for kids with autism and some tips you can do to foster a love of music in your child.
Nursery Rhymes such as:
“Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”
This classic nursery rhyme is one of the autism calming music that is soothing and calming. It can also help children with ASD learn new words such as star, up, moon, and sky and improve their receptive language skills. It can also help them follow motor behaviors such as opening and closing their hands for fine motor skills.
“You Are My Sunshine”
This kind of autism calming music is upbeat and cheerful. It can help increase positive emotions such as happiness and joy. Children with ASD can also cope better with transitions and deal with anxiety and stress. It is also a great song to help kids feel connected to others.
“Row, Row, Row Your Boat”
This song is short but this autism calming music is very effective while teaching them how the concepts of rowing a boat.
“The Wheels on the Bus”
When kids hear the first note of this song, they would know that it’s time to move! It can help kids with ASD develop their gross motor skills by moving their bodies to the music. It is a fun way to help your child stay active and get some exercise. We all know that when kids move, they are more likely to learn.
Songs from favorite shows such as:
Disney songs, Sesame Street songs, The Wiggles songs
These kinds of music are great for kids with ASD because they are familiar with the characters and the tune. It can help increase their attention and focus.
Because they are interested in the music, they are more likely to sing along and learn the words. It is also a great way to bond with your child and have some quality time together.
Instrumental music such as:
Calming music such as “Brahms’ Lullaby” and “Canon in D” by Johann Pachelbel.
This type of music has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress in both typically developing children and children with ASD. For babies, it can help them calm down and fall asleep. Studies show that music with 60 beats per minute can help children with ASD focus and pay attention.
Relaxing piano music such as “Aloha Ia O Waiana” by George Winston
This type of music can be helpful for kids with ASD who need help regulating their emotions. It can also help them calm down and relax.
Upbeat music such as “Put on a Happy Face” by Tony Bennett
For hypo-responsive children with ASD who have low energy levels, music with a faster tempo can help increase their level of alertness and arousal. It can also help them develop their gross motor skills by moving their bodies to the music.
If you want to learn more about music for autism therapy, we would love to talk with you. At Better Speech, we offer online speech therapy services convenient for you and tailored to your child's individual needs. Our services are affordable and effective - get Better Speech now.
About the Author
I am a Speech-Language Pathologist with 14 years of experience working with children and adults who have communication difficulties. I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science at Cebu Doctors' University and have been helping people overcome their communication challenges ever since.
I have worked with individuals of different ages, including toddlers, preschoolers, school-aged children, adults and seniors. I'm passionate about speech therapy and take great satisfaction in helping people overcome their communication challenges and improve their lives through better communication skills. In my spare time I like reading books, going hiking in nature and taking care of my dog Locas.