Music therapy is a related or adjunct service which can positively affect students with autism, cognitive impairment, attention deficit hyperactive dis-order, and other health impairments. We will use music therapy to neutralize negative feelings, reduce stress, release tension, and improve the general quality of life for these, individuals (Sze & Yu 2004). According to Meilahn (2007), music provides a neurological analogue of neurotypical development. A regular beat, rhythm, variations in pitch, and even rhyming words can provide a sense of order in an otherwise confusing world. A basic tenet of music therapy is a child’s relationship to an object, a therapist, and possibly another child (Voigt, 1999), similar to the goals of this school/program.
Music therapy can provide remediation in the areas of cognitive/academic functioning, communication, motor skills, and socialization (Guy & Neve 2005). For cognition, music can be used to create mnemonic melodic structures that can teach the sequencing of certain capsules of information such as a phone number or numerical sequences (e.g., the alphabet song). Music can also be used to indicate certain moments in a schedule or prescribe when the bells ring, what hand motions should occur (e.g., at 1:00 p.m. when the bells ring, we sit in our chairs and have our hands ‘quiet’) (Sze & Yu, 2004). A sequence of certain tones may be remembered and sequenced on an instrument by a child with disabilities to increase short term memory. For sensory awareness, music can be used to assess students for tolerable sound levels of different timbres and frequencies. Speech and language can be facilitated by music therapy. A monotone voice can be improved by matching the rhythm and variable pitch in a brief melodic section (Sze & Yu 2004). Sometimes, speech can be elicited in child who may not otherwise vocalize. In some instances, music may act as an alternative to speech and act as a signal for others.
In the motor area, music therapy can be used to improve eye-hand coordination. For example, a drum may be placed in different positions so a child with disabilities can increase his range of motion and ocular skills. The clapping of hands and stomping of feet to music is enjoyable for most children, but can assist in the coordination of hands and legs, for locomotion purposes (Guy & Neve 2005). Socially, music therapy can be helpful when taking turns in a musical response or when jointly providing the final few notes of a musical selection. For students with autism, music represents a situation in which joint interaction is necessary to produce a solitary response. Music can also be useful when creating very brief social stories to be repeated by the, entire group (Guy & Neve 2005). Music therapy will be at a scheduled time in the school/program, but all therapists will be assisted by the music therapist as to the incorporation of music in the overall curriculum.