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"There must be a language that doesn't depend on words, the boy thought.."

Paul Coehlo 'The Alchemist'

Music Therapy with children with ASD

Research has shown that Music Therapy can help children with ASD in many areas - but even if it didn't, you can tell immediately just by watching a Music Therapist work with a client with ASD that there are tremendous benefits to reap when interacting with someone without all the usual pressures and expectations of the neuro-typical world. My clients with ASD, it would appear, can actually RELAX with me because they can communicate naturally and easily in a different way. Strangely enough, this feeling of being able to make oneself understood without words often leads to clients eventually being able to communicate and interact in more conventional ways as well.


I have found that Music Therapy is particularly helpful in developing skills like giving shared attention, sustaining attention, moving away from looping behaviours, making eye-contact, playing even-handedly, and perhaps the biggest one for most, self-expression. The outpouring of pent up feelings, particularly at the beginning of a session can be very powerful and so beneficial for stressed clients. Music Therapy can also enhance social skills such as turn-taking, sharing and moving away from dominance.

Music is a wonderful vehicle for offering emotional support, fuelling cognitive development, fostering the imagination and igniting creativity. I have found that some clients with ASD are not able to put into words their need for emotional support, but this therapeutic need emerges through a gravitation towards music that has a subtext of belonging, acceptance and togetherness.


Of course, at the heart of any therapeutic work is that all-important relationship between therapist and client. The feeling for the client that somebody understands them at a deep level, cares about their well-being, fosters their development and offers them 'unconditional positive regard' (Carl Rodgers' concept from 'Therapeutic Conditions - Evolution and Practice' 1957) and non-judgmental support appears to come, for many clients, as a huge relief.


This week, we have been talking to Anna, the mother of a client who has worked with me for many years. She has kindly agreed to share the benefits of Music Therapy as she sees them for her delightful son who is now 11 years old. The interview is the basis for episode 2 of our new podcast. See below for a link to the first ever episode!







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