Music Therapy and Autism

About: the power of music for the brain

It seems that music intervention can be very important in treating autism. Especially regarding emotional engagement and social communication. The Dutch Papageno Institute founded by the famous violinist and conductor Jaap van Zweden offers Music Therapy for Autistic children because it works. Jaap and his wife Aaltje have one autistic son Benjamin. But how does it work and affects the brain positively?

Behavior improvements can be seen in communication, social responsiveness, and family quality of life for autistic children who get music intervention. Brain results were equally promising. There were increased connections between brain areas responsible for auditory processing and motoric behavior. So, differences in brain activity are related to improvements in behavioral measures.

Music Therapy

The strength of the connection between auditory and motor areas is strongly related to improvements in social communication. Children who have the biggest increases in brain connection between auditory and motor following music therapy, also had the biggest behavioral improvements in response intervention. Children with less connection between auditory and visual brain areas due to music therapy showed more improvements in social communication.

What does music therapy offer for children with autism?

Music interventions improves social communication in school-age children with autism. Music interventions and music therapy have long been seen as an “alternative” therapy, and have not been readily accepted by the scientific community. Research has shown now that music therapy is a valid and proven alternative for children with autism.

Music intervention does not only improve social behavior. It also affects the strength of connections between brain areas, and those connection changes are related to behavioral improvements in social communication. This is exciting because it points to why music intervention might be working.

Imagine that you are trying to speak to someone, but their voice is loud, high pitched, and grating. On top of that, the lights in the room are hurting your eyes, and there is a constant ambulance-type wailing outside. How strong would your social communication skills be in that situation? Probably they would decrease due to the sensory over-stimulation. This is also the case with children with autism. With music therapy these sensory symptoms can be remediated. The result is that social skills will improve.

Herbert von Karajan as a sailor on Helisara

Clearly music intervention is a new avenue to help children with autism, Let me know if you need some help with this, which can be organized for you.

Recommendation: Use music in your life to involve your complete brain. Remember that the famous Canadian pianist Glenn Gould had Asperger.

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