As I was thinking of a title for this blog post, Burlington coat factory’s jingle “we’re more than just coats!” kept playing in my head. Just like Burlington rebranded to let their customers know they sold more than just winter coats, we are restructuring to let our clients know we serve more than just individuals on the Autism spectrum!
Dynamic Lynks began with the mission to help all individuals reach their fullest potential, and that mission stands true today! Our core population we began serving was individuals on the autism spectrum, as that is the population I have the most experience and expertise in working with. As I have grown as a professional, my techniques and research-knowledge has expanded. Through coursework and professional development, it was my mission to find new strategies to reach a variety of populations. This also meant adding new members to the team who have expertise outside of my own!
In addition to our fantastic work with individuals on the autism spectrum, music therapists are also qualified to work with a large variety of other populations. Some of the clients we serve in our practice are individuals with developmental disabilities, communication disorders, sensory processing disorder, and mental health needs including anxiety and depression. We use a variety of approaches to help each client reach their fullest potential.
Music Therapy sessions look very different for every client, so I wanted to walk you through a few case studies to help you better understand how Music Therapy can impact a variety of diagnoses:
Music Therapy for Developmental Disabilities
Client A is a 5-year-old male with ASD. Client is verbal, but currently uses a picture system to communicate. Client A struggles with emotional regulation, social interactions, and initiating communication.
Some techniques we might use for this client are psychomotor regulation through music to help the client initiate and regulate both brain and body. This can look as simple as shaking a maraca with the steady beat of music, helping the brain and body organize information both internally and externally. We might use Rhythmic Speech Cueing, pairing each syllable of a word with a beat, to help the client initiate functional communication. We may also draw on current social/emotional curricula like the zones of regulation and social thinking to incorporate strategies for social interactions with music therapy techniques.
Music Therapy for Communication Disorders
Client B is a 10-year-old female with Apraxia. Client vocalizes, but struggles with sustained interactions, articulation, fluency, and range of vocalizations.
Strategies for this client might include Rhythmic Speech Cueing, as mentioned above, but this time setting a metronome to a rate of speech that will be more effective for the client. In this example, the client often struggles with articulation and fluency as she speaks too quickly. This makes it difficult for others to understand what she is saying. Decreasing her rate of speech with the help of a metronome can help her communicate more effectively. The therapist may also use Symbolic Communication, such as playing drums back and forth, to mimic a prolonged social interaction like a sustained conversation. Finally, the therapist might use Vocal Intonation Therapy to help increase the client’s range of vocalizations. This can look like vocal exercises, but the goal is for speech production not singing quality.
Music Therapy for Sensory Processing Disorder
Client C is a 12-year-old male with Sensory Processing Disorder. Client struggles with physical boundaries, impulse control, and sensory regulation.
Music Therapy has the unique ability to tap into multiple sensory systems at the same time. Music is an auditory experience, but certain instruments can also provide tactile, visual, and proprioceptive input. In sessions with our older Sensory Processing clients, we might help the client identify what their body needs and where it needs it. We then might use instruments like the tone bar, cabasa, and ocean drum to help regulate multiple sensory systems. Pairing sensory input with a steady rhythmic beat can help sensory information stay in the body for a longer duration of time. Once we identify what helps them best, we can create a plan with the client for them to use during times of distress.
Music Therapy for Mental Health
Client D is a 15-year-old male with Anxiety. Client struggles with large social gatherings and has minimal coping skills during times of anxiety and distress.
Music therapy for clients with mental health concerns uses musical interaction as a means of communication and expression. The beauty of Music Therapy is that it allows the client to communicate non-verbally, and can help them tap into emotions that they may not be able to access with words alone. For this client, the therapist might use songwriting as a means of emotional expression. The therapist may choose specific themes and help the client express themselves through song or instruments. The therapist may also help the client create coping tools through music or song to use during times of distress.
All of these examples are fictional, but represent just some of the ways we can help clients lead their best life. The American Music Therapy Association also has valuable resources on how Music Therapy can be used to treat a variety of conditions.
These are just some of the areas we focus on in our practice. If you are interested in music therapy to support someone you love, please contact us. We are more than happy to help you explore how our services can help them reach their fullest potential!