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  • Sierra Verity-Beasley

Breaking Barriers of Non-Verbal Communication in Children with Autism through Music Therapy



For parents of non-verbal* children and non-speaking (our preferred-term) autistic children, the challenge of communication can be overwhelming. You may feel frustrated and desperate to find a way to connect with your child on a deeper level - beyond the limitations of augmented and alternative communication (AAC) devices or systems. Traditional methods seem insufficient when managing big feelings, sharing meaningful moments or just truly connecting with your child's personality... leaving you searching for a solution that goes beyond words.


The Struggle to Bridge the Communication Gap

The inability to express oneself verbally can lead to immense frustration and isolation for both you and your child.


You long to understand their needs, thoughts, and emotions, but feel powerless in the face of this communication barrier. It's a heart-breaking situation that demands a new approach.


Discover the Power of Music Therapy

Enter music therapy—a remarkable and transformative approach to allied health care that can unlock the potential of non-speaking children and their families, without needing to focus on verbal language. Through the power of melody, rhythm, and sound, music therapy offers a unique path to communication, self-expression, and personal growth for your child, while allowing you to truly enter their world (and vice versa!).


But first, in case you're not quite sure what music therapy sessions would potentially look like, here are some common activities that children and their loved ones may participate in during music therapy sessions:

  1. Instrument Play: Children have the opportunity to explore and play various musical instruments. They can experiment with sounds, create rhythms, and develop coordination and motor skills. This allows them to develop their preferences, musical identity and bring in new skills.

  2. Singing and Vocalisation: Through singing, children can practice vocalization, improve breath control, and develop their expressive and communicative abilities. Songs may be chosen based on the child's interests and developmental goals, but we might just improvise songs (without words) based on their own unique sounds and words they create.

  3. Movement and Dance: Music therapy often incorporates movement and dance as a means of self-expression and physical engagement. This is especially important for sensory regulation and helping our bodies to calm down if they feel anxiety when connecting with others. In music therapy, children can move their bodies to the rhythm of the music, improving coordination, body awareness, and motor skills.

  4. Improvisation and Musical Expression: Children are encouraged to express themselves creatively through improvisation on instruments or through movement (and sometimes the visual arts too!). They can create their own melodies, rhythms, and themes, fostering self-confidence and emotional expression.

  5. Music Listening and Relaxation: Relaxation techniques, such as guided music listening or playing calming music, can help children reduce anxiety, improve focus, and promote a sense of calmness and well-being. This is a form of co-regulation that parents and carers can use to support their ongoing connection even in times of stillness.

  6. Therapeutic Songwriting: In some sessions, children may participate in therapeutic songwriting. They can express their feelings, thoughts, and experiences through lyrics and music, promoting self-reflection and empowerment.


Imagine witnessing your child finding their voice, using instruments, vocalisations, and body movements to express themselves in ways that words cannot. With the guidance of a trained music therapist, your child can navigate this new language of music and experience the joy of connection and self-discovery.


Embrace the Journey of Music Therapy

Take the first step on this extraordinary journey by seeking out a qualified music therapist who specialises in working with children on the autism spectrum or with non-speaking children with other neuro-diversities.


Through carefully designed musical activities tailored by your therapist, your child will develop communication skills, regulate their emotions, integrate sensory experiences, and enhance their cognitive development without the need for words. With any luck, music will become a vital tool in enhancing their growth and overall well-being for the rest of their life.


Embrace the transformative power of music therapy and embark on this incredible journey with your child. Break down the barriers of non-verbal communication and witness the profound impact that music can have on their lives.

*We use the term non-verbal here as it is commonly understood, however we prefer the term non-speaking as it better represents the communication and experience of our music therapy participants. We understand that language is important and that there is a growing number of people who believe non-speaking to be a more inclusive term to use for them.


 

- Sierra Verity-Beasley

Resound music therapy

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