Music therapy is a wonderful tool for any stage in a potential client’s life. However, there are some circumstances where early intervention is more effective or even crucial.
While music therapy for kids may be adapted in order to fit the intellectual level of the children, it’s still music therapy in action. Although music therapy is often thought of as an intervention for clients with various disorders, music therapy can also be beneficial because it can help with general early childhood development.
The educational achievement and enrichment in the early childhood period is essential to the development of a child’s intellectual encyclopedia. The early experiences of a child majorly contribute to the way their brain and behaviors develop over time. From the moment a child is born, they start observing their surroundings and learning from the people and things that influence them. Children develop and achieve developmental milestones on a day to day basis. Waving for the first time, making their first vocal sounds, saying their first word, or even taking their first crawl or walk. All of these milestones are results of childhood development, which can be assisted by music therapy. The way that parents respond to their children can have a huge influence on how quickly and in what way they develop. Although every child’s development varies in terms of speed and surrounding environment, there are certain milestones that children are expected to achieve by a certain time. Children achieve milestones at varied times, but if a child is extremely behind on their milestones, it can be a major cause for concern. These lags in development can be caused by a variety of disorders or illnesses.
One reason for starting music therapy with a young child is simply for healthy development and achievement of childhood development milestones. Music is a powerful tool that engages every part of the brain, therefore it has the ability to fill a huge variety of roles when used to aid early childhood development. First, music has a strong and very interesting relationship with memory. Introducing music and music therapy into a child’s life very early is a great way to improve their memory. In addition, the participation in music therapy in the form of playing an instrument can be very beneficial to the fine motor skills of young clients. Music therapy also works well to develop a child’s reasoning and language skills.
As is the case with adolescent and adult clients, music therapy can assist children with emotional struggles as well. Although disorders such as depression and anxiety are commonly diagnosed in teens and adults, children can still feel stressed or overwhelmed. Their environments at school, family situations, or other factors can cause children to act out because of extreme emotions. In addition, younger children may not have the tools or know the best way to express their emotions. One of the main tools music therapy offers is a way for clients to express themselves without having to use words. In addition to coping with emotions they may not know how to express, children who grow familiar with music through music therapy can become more confident. If a child successfully learns a song on an instrument or successfully memorizes lyrics, their self esteem will get a boost.
A common language disorder that manifests early in a child’s life is speech delay. Speech delay is when a child is behind the normal level of development in their communication and language skills for their age. Since this is a disorder that usually presents in the early childhood development stage, it is very crucial to intervene earlier rather than later. Music therapy for speech delay has a lot to do with rhythm. For children with speech delay, it may be more difficult for them to understand the rhythm of conversation. On a positive note, rhythm is a huge part of every type of music. As with every other form of early intervention music therapy, it is important to make sure that the music used in sessions with young clients is in line with their cognitive processing level.
Autism or autism spectrum disorder, is a disorder that manifests in early childhood, and has an effect on many facets of diagnosed client’s lives. Their communication skills and personal relationships are impacted, as well as their learning and general behavior. Autism spectrum disorder also ranges in severity, affecting language and self-regulation to different degrees in each client. Music therapy has been proven to give clients diagnosed with autism an avenue of self-expression that their disorder had previously blocked. In addition to improving self-expression, music therapy can also help clients with sensory issues and reinforce motor skills.
Cerebral palsy is physical disorder that affects muscle development and motor skills, as well as movements like walking. Cerebral palsy is usually the result of brain damage that occurs while the child is under the age of 5, or potentially before the child is even born. Children with cerebral palsy may struggle with concentration due to brain damage. Rhythm can help clients with attention and alertness, as well as helping them to improve their walking. Music can also provide a relaxing environment where clients with cerebral palsy can release some tension from their muscles.
Music therapy is a tool that can be used to help people of all ages cope with a variety of disorders, but in some cases, early intervention is better, or even essential. When a child is born with or develops a disorder in the early development stages of life, it can be scary for them and their families. Music therapy is a perfectly viable treatment option to open avenues of communication between the child and their surroundings, and help them to cope with negative emotions associated with their diagnosis.
Edited by Cara Jernigan on January 17, 2021