Ysgol Pen Coch
Therapeutic Music uses music and musical activities primarily to achieve non-musical skills, such as communication, social and motor skills. However, pupils will also gain musical skills.Music is a very important part of our curriculum as it is an area of the curriculum which removes barriers in communication. We currently employ a therapist in music and more about her work can be seen below. We also have a specialist teacher working with Soundbeam and each student is able to make music through movement with the Soundbeam or with switch-work using pre-programmed, synthesised recordings. She is also developing use of the Skoog, which is an electronic instrument accessible to any student who is able to make the slightest body movement. Bith the specialist teacher and the therapist in music are getting getting very exciting results from their work in this area.
Pupils attend therapy music sessions on a weekly basis and enjoy using a range of percussion instruments during the sessions.
Musical Interaction Therapy
Musical Interaction Therapy emphasises in building onto the relationships between the child and his/her familiar adult, enabling a carry-over into other situations. The role of the therapist is to support and facilitate the interaction, interpreting and reacting to every contribution, with their voice and instrument.
The methods that Musical Interaction Therapy uses are reinforced by recent research on the importance of very early communication. They begin with the premise that the child has been unable (not simply unwilling) to take part in the natural give-and-take of early social dialogue. We can learn to tune in to their social world, and gradually help them to enter into ours.
Three main strategies are used for this tuning-in process, which in practice often overlap within one activity. These strategies filter through the way childrens songs and rhymes, their active and lap play, and many unstructured and improvised games are used. In the first few sessions experiments are made with a wide range of these activities, looking for a positive response, however small.
Joining in with, imitating and later extending the childs own spontaneous sounds and movements, and treating them as if they were intentional attempts at communication, even when they clearly are not. This child-centred approach provides the most straightforward way of drawing the child into a turn-taking situation.
Most children respond by giving more eye contact, and eventually by using a wider range of sounds in a much more positive and intentional way, perhaps even incorporating some of our extensions of their original sounds. The moment a child first realises that he is leading or in control is often visible on his face, and then his confidence grows.
The running commentary involves using words in a simple extemporised song to fit in with whatever the child is doing at the time, whether it is jumping, rocking, or looking out of the window.
Provides a more structured framework using a song with short verses, which are flexible enough to accommodate anything the child might do or suggest.
Other important techniques
The leaving of dramatic pauses before key words in familiar songs. This, too, is very commonly done by parents, especially when teaching their children nursery rhymes. It seems to compel the child to slot in a sound, or other sign of anticipation.
- Social timing
Expectations are built up only gradually. Eventually, if words are used in this context, they are immediately appropriate and meaningful to them. This is a vital strategy for showing the autistic child when to take their turn in the interaction.
By treating spontaneous sounds or other signs of anticipation as if they were communicative signals, we are actually enabling the child to start using them as such, and this is a solid basis for developing further communication.
We are also letting the child know that their own contributions are valuable, helping them to build on their self-esteem.
Examples of Therapeutic Music Goals
- · to improve expressive language (i.e., ability to communicate thoughts/feelings)
- · to improve receptive language (i.e., ability to understand)
- · to improve speech and verbal communication
- · to promote effective use of non-verbal communication
- · to encourage ability to imitate
- · to improve ability to comprehend written language
- · to improve ability to count and associate numbers with concepts
- · to improve ability to discriminate colors
- · to promote reality orientation
- · to improve memory skills
- · to increase on-task behavior
- · to improve ability to follow directions
- · to increase participation
- · to decrease interfering behaviors
- · to promote ability to complete activities of daily living
- · to maintain/improve fine motor functioning
- · to maintain/improve gross motor functioning
- · to promote identification of body parts
- · to improve reach/grasp/release skills
- · to maintain/improve range of motion
- · to improve eye/hand coordination
- · to improve auditory and visual perception
- · to increase verbal/non-verbal expression of feelings
- · to improve self-esteem
- · to improve impulse control
- · to increase attention span
- · to develop coping skills
- · to decrease stress and anxiety
- · to facilitate the grieving process
- · to teach relaxation techniques
- · to facilitate exploration of spiritual concerns
- · to improve social interaction with others
- · to improve appropriate eye contact
- · to increase ability to touch others appropriately
- · to increase willingness to be touched by others
- · to increase ability to share materials and equipment with others
- · to improve ability to accept constructive criticism from others
- · to improve ability to make choices and initiate responses
- · to improve ability to accept praise and give praise to others
- · to decrease isolation
- · to improve ability to participate in appropriate play activities
- · to improve interpersonal skills
- · to build relationships
- · to develop skills to participate in appropriate leisure time activities
- · to develop knowledge of available leisure time activities
- · to decrease pain
- · to teach pain management skills
- · to promote independence
- · to facilitate reminiscence and life review
- · to develop creativity and sense of identity