Music for Autism?
Five Ways to Harness Music’s Power to Bring Healing
With the prevalence of autism soaring in our culture, how does the power of music for autism stack up against the strong ravages of this brain issue?
The answer is … “With incredible strength!”
We will show you five ways to harness music’s power for autism and put it to work in your child today!
Hi! I am a piano teacher who in 1998 began writing a piano-based curriculum for preschoolers. We were amazed to see how that curriculum began to work miracles with children with learning disabilities. Later, as autism came onto the scene, I witnessed so many breakthroughs in children with autism, that in 2013 I wrote a book called “Music Helps Autism.” To further document our findings, we conducted our own Autism and Music Case Study in Huntsville AL, applying the music for autism principles in my book.
Working with a Board of Advisers and an autism therapist, we laid out a plan to saturate the environment of the children who registered for this free case study. We set up a structure of daily music exposure in four different levels of engagement.
Twenty children with autism participated in this eight-week study. At the start, seven of the twenty students were non-verbal, ranging in ages from four to eleven years.
I was cautioned by the autism therapist not get my hopes up, noting that it usually takes several months to see any type of improvement with most autism therapies. We had eight weeks.
But, I was not to be disappointed. Within a month, four of the non-verbal children began to speak new words, and by the end of the study five non-verbal children had broken through. One of the remaining non-verbal students, a six-year old who made no sounds at all to this point, continued to do the recommended musical engagements. They lived in another city, so his mom sent videos in weekly of her son playing the piano while she sang. One day about six months later, he woke up speaking complete sentences. Wow! What a morning at their house!
So, the Autism and Music Case Study yielded an incredible six out of seven non-verbal children saying new words after involvement with the power of music for autism. Participating parents of verbal and non-verbal children alike testified of vast improvement in musical and non-musical, life changing skills and abilities.
It’s because music has power!
The same power that ignites a laser beam and channels electricity, is available to help heal us; body, soul and spirit. You see when God spoke, “Let there be light!”, music, light and sound echoed through the universes. Scientists tell us that music, light and sound are different frequencies of the same spectrum. Stated simply, the same power that is in light, is in music.
Here are five life-changing, yet fun ways to harness the power of music for autism. They are based on documented scientific research.
# 1: Listening Research: Passively listening to a certain style of classical music has great benefits for our brains.
I call songs that fit that certain style, “Preferred Music.” Based on this research, we developed a Listening Therapy CD with ‘Preferred Music’ as part of our Autism and Music Case Study.
Fact: By filling your child’s environment with specific types of classical music, they are changing from the inside out without even being aware.
Tip: Keep the volume low so as not to trigger any sensory issues, but play it in their environment during the day and test it at night also.
Testimony: Many caregivers testified that this type of classical music helped their children sleep. One stated that her six-year old slept through the night for the first time in his life after she began playing the Listening Therapy CD.
Two weeks into the Autism and Music Case Study, I received an email from the mother of the eleven-year-old non-verbal student. She wrote, “My daughter is not screaming for the first time in her life, as she is listening to the Listening Therapy CD.” Two weeks later this eleven year old said “Mama” for the first time. Once her brain was able to calm down, her healing began.
Put the healing power of “Preferred Music” for autism to work.
# 2: Singing Research: There is great benefit to our brains and our bodies when we sing.
Fact: There is great benefit to our internal organs, our cells, and yes, even in our brain when we sing!
Tip: Even if your child is non-verbal, find some fun CD’s with children’s voices and surround your child with singing. Play it in the car, play it in the house, put it on their devices. Sing along! Get the whole family engaged with singing.
Testimony: The first student who enrolled in our Music4Me (special needs music class) was a non-verbal four-year-old. They surrounded her environment with our Music4Me Singing CD. A few weeks later, she started singing along to the CD. While she still couldn’t speak, she could sing! That was the needed first step that broke her into language, which followed a few weeks later. Update: That was 2008. We recently saw her at a restaurant, chatting away with her friends, who were probably not even aware she had ever been diagnosed with autism. She was the first of many we have witnessed, who was released by singing first.
Put the healing power of singing music for autism to work.
#3: Active Musical Participation Research: There is great benefit when we move to the beat of music.
I call this “Active Musical Participation.” This level of engagement moves beyond passively listening or just singing; it includes dancing, moving, shaking, beating, clapping, stomping and tapping. It yields strong researched benefits.
We developed “Active Musical Participation” virtual lessons for our Autism and Music Case Study, so students could engage daily. Your child can do the same, from home or in class.
Fact: Actively moving to music brings in benefits, body, spirit and soul. It’s all relative; the more we engage with music, the greater the benefits produced.
Tip: Download music videos; get some hand rhythm instruments and get up and move! Gather the family around, and move to the beat with music on the big screen TV. March around the living room. Make a parade down the sidewalk. Have fun and make noise! Lots and lots of exposure to music is the key to breakthrough.
Testimony: A case study parent’s testimony, “My child loved coming to music class, but we found that he got so much more out of the virtual lessons, as he was in the comfort of our home. The studio lessons enabled socializing, and the virtual lessons enabled participation. This program worked for us!”
Put the healing power of active music for autism to work.
#4: Piano Research: The piano has been shown in research after research to be the number one instrument for brain function enhancement.
Fact: When a person engages with the piano, the right and left hemispheres of their brain flow together. If your child is in the preschool years, their brain actually wires differently. However, brain function is enriched greatly at any age. Your child will benefit greatly by the power of the piano.
Our Early Childhood Music’s non-traditional piano curriculum works wondrously for children with autism. The more they engage with the piano, the more benefit to their brain, permitting more engagement. I call it a wonderful circle of healing.
Piano lessons are the very best activity you can give your brain. Period.
Tip: Find a piano teacher in your area who offers piano lessons to children with special needs, or come see us. We also offer an online learning piano-based program, so location is not an issue.
Testimony: One of the case study’s parents gave testimony then, “My four-year old was non-verbal until he began this program. This program has changed our lives!” Update: This talkative child still takes piano lessons from me, 5 years later, and is one of my best students. He was recently accepted into his school talent show. His teacher commented on how wonderful it was for him to have his piece memorized. This child is brilliant!
That’s the power of music for autism.
Put the healing piano power of music for autism to work.
#5: Worship and Prayer: I saved the best for last; for the God who created music cares about your child. He created the power behind music for autism.
Our Autism and Music Case Study was saturated in prayer. Each student had assigned intercessors (anonymously, of course) and God answered our prayers. He will hear your prayer also.
Fact: God cares about your child; celebrate Him in worship. The Bible is full of commands to worship the Lord with music, with singing, with tambourines, with loud sounds, and on the harp- a string instrument similar to the piano. When we are obedient to do that we are the benefactors, spirit, soul and body.
Tip: Release your cares to The Father; ask Him for strategies and wisdom to release your child into wellness. Get other intercessors praying for your child and your family.
Testimony: There are so many testimonies I can share here, but let me just say that God created the power in music. He is the one that enabled us to stumble upon the fact that it engages the brain in ways that nothing else can. Worship and intercession will make a difference in your life and that of your child.
Put the healing power of prayer and worship music for autism to work.
Then, relax, enjoy your child, while the power of music for autism works wonders for you both.
From Mrs. Denie Riggs:
Want to learn more? I recommend that you read my book, “Music Helps Autism“. In it I share all the benefits of the four levels of engagement and then testimony after testimony from parents, just like you, who are searching for answers for their child with special needs.
I hope you have enjoyed learning how to harness the power of music for autism to enhance your child, creating a better tomorrow. If you have questions or need further assistance we would be honored to talk with you.
You may also want to check out our products and lesson structures that were a part of the Autism and Music Case Study. I have hyperlinked them throughout the article for your convenience. What will your story be?
A Few of our Case Study Testimonials:
“Your Music4Me program has several expensive therapies all rolled into one fun, life-changing program. Thank you for what you have brought to our family!”
“My 9 year old daughter is doing the Online Music4Me Lessons. She gets up every morning saying, “I want music class.” She carries her ipad everywhere she goes with music class going. She just recently began to march her feet while shaking her eggs. A great feat for her! This program is the best ever!”
“My son with special needs studies the piano with Perfect Praise Music. He is thriving at it! Learning to play the piano is unlocking so many life skills.”