September 24, 2015

Recently published in the Dallas Morning News’ Special Needs Blog.

Portrait of beautiful young girl smiling in park

It’s been known that music has calming powers that support mental health and reduce anxiety — but did you know that melodies can be especially helpful for kids with special needs?

It’s true, and it’s why several therapists who work directly with children who have special needs recommend playing music for their patients. Not only can fun, familiar tunes help children feel less nervous during therapy sessions, it can also motivate them in between sessions. Plus, happy music can create happy atmospheres from otherwise stressful situations — encouraging children to succeed every day.

By turning on the radio or simply singing a song, you can help your child with special needs build and nourish essential skills while elevating their mood. Whether you’re at home or out and about, playing or singing music can offer ample benefits that can reduce stress for everyone:

  1. It can raise their spirits. Happy lyrics make for happy days, so consider creating your own song that includes your child’s name in the words. Sing it to them often to help them memorize it. In time, it could become their own special melody that brings them joy and makes them smile.
  2.  It can help them express themselves. Encourage your child to create their own song — you may find that doing so will help them express feelings or needs that they may not otherwise be able to articulate. For example, they might create a “potty” song to use when they need to go to the restroom.
  3. It can improve their memory and sequencing tasks. Calm, soothing music provides mental clarity, so consider playing music or singing a song during bath time or in the morning as they get ready for school.
  4. It can boost their confidence. Easy-to-learn songs — like the ABCs or “Itsy Bitsy Spider”—can give children the confidence of knowing the lyrics and rhythm as you sing them together. By singing fun, creative songs with them that they can memorize, you can also motivate them for future therapy sessions.

It’s no doubt that both adults and children can find joy in music, but they can also find healing. By creating a positive environment filled with fun, creative music, you can help your child with special needs succeed in so many ways — it just takes a catchy little tune (or two).