The number of UK school children that have been diagnosed with autism has steadily risen over the past nine years. According to the National Council on Severe Autism, the prevalence rates of children with autism in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales doubled in 2019, proving that more children are being diagnosed with the disorder compared to a decade ago, and it’s predicted that the numbers will keep on rising in the coming years. Children diagnosed with ASD often have behavioural and communication challenges, but with early intervention treatment and therapy, they can learn important skills and thrive as they grow. Studies have shown that music therapy, in particular, can be quite useful as it helps those who ASD in a holistic way. If your child has ASD, here’s how playing musical instruments or listening to music can help your little one thrive.
It can improve their social communication skills
Socialising is often stressful for children with ASD, and experts have been coming up with advanced tech and toys to help kids decode emotions to improve their communication skills. Meanwhile, parents have also been using inclusive toys that do away with stereotypes, such as dolls, art supplies, and building materials in order to help their child communicate their feelings without having to verbalise them. In addition to tech and toys, music therapy can also help improve a child’s communication skills.
In a three-month study which enlisted children with ASD, it was found that the children who participated in musical activities such as singing or playing musical instruments had better communication skills and improved family quality life than those who only worked with a therapist without engaging in music activities. To help your child develop an interest in music, start by observing them to find out what type of music they like, then let them listen to their favourite songs while they’re playing or relaxing. You can also encourage them to play simple musical instruments, such as castanets, hand bells, a ukelele, or a recorder.
It can help to calm and soothe
As children who have been diagnosed with ASD have difficulty expressing themselves and their feelings, and their frustration over their inability to communicate properly can lead to tension, anxiety, and even aggression. Aggressive behaviour is one of the most common challenges experienced by parents of children and young adults with autism, but music can help as it can keep kids or teens with ASD calm by reducing their feelings of anger. Spotify and YouTube have numerous calming, sensory playlists specially made for this purpose, but classical or new age music will work just as well to soothe your child. Instrumentals or lo-fi beats can also help to calm a distressed child, so try different music genres and see what works best to soothe your little one.
Music can help a child with ASD cope with their feelings, express their emotions, and communicate better with their peers and loved ones. Try adding a little more music into your little one’s life and see what a difference it can make in their development.