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Music Therapy and Autism

Music Therapy and Autism
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that negatively affects a child’s ability to communicate and interact with significant others. The symptoms of autism are easily noticed in children between the ages of 2-3 years and cannot be cured entirely but reduced using some therapies. One such approach that has been established to significantly reduce the symptoms of autism and considerably improve the behavior and communication of patients with autism is music therapy. Music therapy in managing autism involves using musical interaction to help autistic individuals with a wide range of cognitive and emotional challenges to improve their ability to function and communicate.

The connection between Music and Autism.
Since the discovery of autism in 1943, numerous researches have been conducted to establish the connection between music and autism. A considerable percentage of research done on this subject have similar findings: there is a strong tie between music and autism. Clinicians have reported that autistic individuals express their emotions and feelings more effectively when exposed to certain genres of music. Considerable evidence also shows that autistic individuals can process and understand music just as good as non-autistic individuals despite being slower to develop verbal communication skills in actual life.

The primary connection between music and autism lies in its ability to stimulate both hemispheres of our brains instead of just one hemisphere. Music, therefore, supports cognitive activity and develop self-awareness and improves the relationship with others. Music also encourages communicative behavior and considerably encourages interaction with others, something that autistic individuals cannot easily achieve.

The Benefits of Music for Autism
1.    Communication
Exposure to soft, slow music has been established to considerably improve speech output among individuals with autism in the areas of vocalization, verbalization, and vocabulary. Music can greatly assist in teaching us to communicate therefore autistic persons can communicate better by learning a new word from a song, or learn how to express themselves on a social situation based on the messages that a song may be conveying. Singing songs also assist people with autism to effectively communicate their emotions.
2.    Behavior
We dance when we listen to particular genres of music. Dancing is a form of exercise that helps to stimulate our sensory systems and allow us to enhance fine motor skills. For people with autism, dancing when listening to music significantly improves their behavior by assisting them to follow particular directions similar to dance moves. Music also interconnects the auditory and the motor part of the brain responsible for converting thoughts into action. This enhances the understanding of autistic individuals and helps them obey verbal commands.
3.    Social Skills
A recent study concluded autistic children showed more social engagement during play sessions with music than in play sessions without music. The increase in social engagement during playing session with music was attributed to the effect of music the brain’s endocrinology system to release hormones that stimulate the children to interact in more appropriate ways with other children through sharing and taking.
4.    Cognition
Music improves cognitive development in children with autistic. Autistic children are able to organize auditory information through music’s rhythmic patterns better. They can follow daily routines and memorize important practices thanks to an improved attention span. Introducing music into the daily routine of autistic individuals also increases their tolerance for frustration and decrease anxious behaviors crucial for cognitive development.

Conclusion
Music therapy is highly beneficial to autistic individuals to reduce the symptoms of the condition significantly. Certain genres of music notably Brassband music has positive treatment outcomes in managing autistic. Music therapy sessions usually involve basic communication building exercise as well as relaxing playtime and motivation and should be started earlier enough once the symptoms of autistic become clear in children between the age of 2-3 years.

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