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New Hope for Autism: Music Therapy for Children with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome

The Healing Powers of Music Therapy Imagine a world where sounds had no meaning
to you other than a jumble of discordant noise that hurt your ears. Imagine not knowing that the words that came
out of people’s mouths meant something, that each world was a symbol that stood for something
else. Think what it would be like if the lawn mower,
the telephone, and the human voice all sounded the same to you. This is the world of many
nonverbal autistic people. Due to severe sensory integration issues and
other factors as of yet to be discovered, many people on the more severe end of the
autism spectrum cannot interpret the sounds they hear. This is a big reason why they can’t
talk — they don’t realize language has meaning — and why noise bothers them so much. Now imagine a child a bit higher functioning.
She has some words, and she understands what words are for, but she struggles to put them
together. It is a lot of stress on her system to be able to search for the word that matches
what she is thinking and feeling and use her possibly under-developed vocal muscles to
say them. It does not come naturally for her. Now enter the idea of music therapy for both
these children and for everyone on the autism spectrum. What is the advantage of music therapy over
speaking? Music is a more primal, natural, patterned
way of communicating. People with no communication abilities have been shown to respond to and
seemingly connect with music therapy. People with autism like patterns. Music is
full of patterns. Music has rhythm. It is something that they can feel, rather than
think about. It is something they don’t have to interpret. And it can be used, some say,
as a bridge to learning about speech or improving an autistic child’s speech and communication
abilities. What is music therapy? Music therapy is different than learning to
play an instrument. It is not instruction in music. Rather, a music therapist uses a
variety of tools, knowledge and creativity to create musical environments where an autistic
client feels comfortable. A music therapist will create appropriate
musical environments based on each person’s needs. The great thing about music therapy
is that it requires no verbal ability. A person can pick up a bell, bang a piano, or shake
cymbals without needing to talk—and in this way they can start to communicate with others
through music. In some ways, music is an ancient form of communication — perhaps our oldest
form. Music therapists can build relationships with
previously unreachable children by using the power of music to reach them. They can help
clients build communication skills, lower their anxiety and improve their overall ability
to function. Why does music therapy work for those on the
autism spectrum? 1. Music is considered a universal language. 2. Music captures and helps maintain attention.
It motivates and engages a person to respond and participate. 3. Music allows people with autism to express
their emotions, and identify their emotions, in ways they might not otherwise have been
able to. 4. Music can increase cognitive skills, as
well as increase auditory processing, perceptual, gross and fine motor skills. This is because
the rhythmic part of music organizes the sensory system in a person’s body. It is like a form
of sensory integration therapy, if you do it right, with the right kind of music for
the person, which trained music therapists know how to do. 5. Music can have anxiety reducing features.
The repeated use of the same piece of music can create a sense of security and familiarity
in a given setting, making an autistic person feel more comfortable and more able to learn. For higher-functioning students on the autism
spectrum, music can be a creative outlet in addition to helping regulate behavior. Music
therapy helps children focus and relieves anxiety and frustration. When people on the
autism spectrum are in a musical environment, they are able to interact with his peers,
and often their conversational skills are more appropriate. For additional information on music therapy
as well as other innovative therapies to help people on the autism spectrum, see the book,
New Hope for Autism by Craig Kendall. For more information on this book and to sign
up for my free newsletter click on the link below, or go to


  1. MissPickletoes
    MissPickletoes November 24, 2012

    Interesting! Years ago, I used music from the time my Asperger's son was an infant, and he was not diagnosed until he was well into his adulthood. I do believe it made a difference in his childhood. He grew up loving classical music.

  2. Scott Schallberg
    Scott Schallberg November 24, 2012

    it looks worthwhile to me i will be tring it. glad to hear about any new answers

  3. imir8atu
    imir8atu November 25, 2012

    i have used music for all my life im 53 now and still use 2 hours a day for music, calms the savage beast

  4. KiroStun
    KiroStun November 26, 2012

    music makes more sense than conversations for me

  5. SchlauMarvi
    SchlauMarvi December 11, 2012

    I don't want to be change / altered
    I want to be accepted. 😉

  6. Steven Bluhm
    Steven Bluhm December 13, 2012

    Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA) has been including music therapy in their curricula for a few years. It certainly makes a great deal of sense.

  7. AspergersGuide
    AspergersGuide December 17, 2012

    This is not an attempt to alter anyone. It is a therapy that helps improve communication. The better the communication, the better you can be understood and accepted.
    Craig Kendall, Author

  8. Big Sky Music Therapy
    Big Sky Music Therapy December 24, 2012

    As a music therapist specializing in autism, it is really inspiring and uplifting to hear how music has worked for others. Thank you for sharing!

  9. princessbinas
    princessbinas May 25, 2013

    I have realized this already with my Asperger's. This video pretty much confirms it.

  10. Myche Worth
    Myche Worth December 15, 2013

    I know there are 100 A.S. groups on FB but I would welcome you to mine. 
      46/*2weeks  🙂

  11. JB Associates
    JB Associates March 16, 2015

    There is NO clinical evidence for the effectiveness of "music therapy." This is just another "alternative treatment." Music may calm, but so do aromas, art, light, colors, and other stimuli. Check the literature – only articles by music therapists in music therapy "journals" assert, on the basis of anecdotal evidence, that this "therapy" is any more effective than a placebo (just sitting in the room with a person or giving them a sugar pill). 

  12. Ryan
    Ryan November 1, 2016

    I'm a high functioning autistic. I remember listening to soundtracks from various Disney movies and scores from James Horner and even Hans Zimmer. They would fill my mind with colors, so I guess I have synesthesia. I now play guitar, and I primarily listen to metal.

  13. Tanesha Ross
    Tanesha Ross April 9, 2017

    JB Associates, you clearly have zero clue what you are talking about.  Do your research.  The amount of available clinical, peer reviewed, scientifically backed evidence will overwhelm you.

  14. Shining Alpha
    Shining Alpha October 19, 2017

    aʊtɨsʍ ɨs ʄaҡɛ aռɖ ɛʋɛʀʏ ɮօɖʏ ɨs ʀɛtaʀtɛɖ

  15. fastandeffective
    fastandeffective November 19, 2017

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  16. Amal taleb
    Amal taleb April 1, 2018

    Music therapy makes our soul so calme


    Music is very powerfull. My child has tremor, a kind of parkinson. His hands were shaking so much that I had to feed him and do everything for him. After several years of hard work teaching him to play piano he is able to do everything himself

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