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Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often have difficulties with social interaction and communication. Music therapy uses musical experiences and the relationships that develop through them to enable individuals to feel calmer, identify and express their feelings, and communicate more effectively with others.
Music therapy can also help to improve behavior and cognition. Since most people with ASD respond positively to music, it is an excellent therapeutic tool that can be used in a variety of settings. Children with ASD do not need to have musical talent or skills to benefit from music therapy.
The type of music makes a difference. Experts recommend exposing children to classical, symphonic, or instrumental music that is pleasant and harmonious. Types of music therapy are:
- • Receptive music therapy: This type of therapy involves the client listening to live or recorded music for relaxation and responding either silently, verbally, or expressively via art or dance.
- • Compositional and improvisational music therapy: These are creative techniques in which the client improvises and composes music with the guidance of the therapist.
- • Recreative musical therapy: This may involve singing familiar or new songs and learning to play a musical instrument.
Music therapists may also design musical games that involved the use of instruments or voice, with the goals of promoting social interaction, strengthening motor skills, developing auditory skills, and fostering self-expression.
In order to obtain professional credentials to practice music therapy, music therapists must earn a bachelor’s degree or higher from an approved American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) program, successfully complete a minimum of 1,200 hours of clinical training, and pass a national exam.
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