Arguably, every type of person has music that works for them. You might listen for the purpose of dancing and releasing energy, or simply to help you relax. Music when used in an occupational therapy setting, can help encourage so many important life skills. OT’s can use music to promote neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections during learning, experiencing, or recovering from injury. Among OT’s and music therapists, it is commonly known that regular lessons can help improve academic performance, cognitive function, increase IQ scores, and reduce the risk of depression. Listening to a combination of binaural (two-tone frequencies) and classical music, has been shown to promote alpha brain wave and keep kids calm. Music not only has positive effects on mood, but it can enhance speaking ability as well.
A recent study discovered that music has the potential to improve the development of social skills among children with autism spectrum disorder. Dozens of kids in the study were given pre- and post-music therapy social skills tests. Kids were categorized as having mild to severe autism and social scores that were ranked active to passive. What they found was that social skills was one area of distinct improvement for kids who had undergone musical therapy intervention, and that it was most effective when it was controlled in an occupational therapy setting.
Studies have found that children with autism spectrum disorder who often have difficulty processing and controlling their emotions, generally do as well as more typically developed children in identifying the rich emotions that are embedded in music.
Music for therapy can be introduced by an OT, PT, or music therapist, and of course a parent or caregiver, in nearly any treatment setting if need be.