Guest post by Nicole McCray:
Music has always had a profound effect on our moods and feelings.
Music has also been widely used in particular as a means of communication when words are not enough, or not available. A deeper knowledge of musical learning or music therapy has benefits to those who participate in them including:
- Improved memory recall
- Enhanced social skills
- Boosted confidence
- Higher academic achievements
Sensory processing disorder involves a jumbling of sensory signals that would curtail the appropriate responses to that sensory input. Some domino effects of this misprocessing include developmental lag, behavioral and emotional issues. Music and the sensory system are both linked to the nervous system within the body, and there are some great benefits of the utilization of music to help improve sensory issues and their subsequent struggles.
MUSICAL LEARNING IS MULTI-SENSORY
Music uses more than the typical visual or auditory senses, often including the sense of touch and proprioception needed to bang or blow on instruments. The wide array of sensory equipment that can be utilized for music therapy and learning opens many doors for those with SPD.
Multisensory equipment also aids in the development of skills, most importantly that of holding the student’s focus and attention and the enhancement of awareness, so that the student becomes more aware of their outside environment. But this is not to exclude fine motor function, creativity, increase in vocalization, hand-eye coordination, and improved social skills, because they have also been shown to improve with musical learning.
Using a multisensory approach is an effective tool in the advancement of diverse learners. It uses a very hands-on approach that strengthens the overall connection to what is being learned, improving overall achievements and giving children more confidence.
The best part about musical learning is that unlike some other forms of treatment for various sensory disorders, music is noninvasive. It provides more comfort and coaxes a more effective response, allowing more freedom and encouragement of creativity to express oneself, which is very enjoyable for children.
MUSIC PROVIDES A STRONG WAY TO COMMUNICATE
Music integration holds more than just helping children to learn language, it also can be used as a form of communication. Music is expressive and demonstrates multifaceted moods and emotions. Children can be calmed down or amped up depending on what they are listening to, and it helps them to access various parts within the brain that enable communication with those who struggle with speech.
Music has been used for people with conditions like Autism to improve sensory integration and encourage positive behavior. For those with dementia, music treatment has actually resulted in a large decrease of depression symptoms in a study done at Florida State University. The effect that music can have on our moods and emotions is astounding and should be tapped into for those with sensory problems as a way to help communicate their feelings.
MUSIC AIDS IN COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
Another study that was done on the effect of music education on academics demonstrated a strong connection between students who had a musical background and those that had achieved strong grades and greater IQs, particularly in the areas of Math and Reading/Language.
Music actually engages the brain in many ways that other subjects do not.
Since many challenges with SPD affect social and academic functioning, music can be a great way to address those needs. Music accesses different parts of the brain and regulates processes, which actually improves how people organize their thoughts. This, in turn, can also aid in the development of responses to the outside environment.
HOW TO INCORPORATE MUSIC
There are multiple ways in which you can work to incorporate music for those with sensory issues. Enrolling in a program that offers online and in-home music lessons can be one great way, as it allows for the option to work with an expert musician in the comfort of one’s own home. Music teachers can provide an environment that is multi-sensory and help explore the best way to include music in communication, and having the option for online and in-home learning allows for comfort and familiarity.
One of the best ways for children to be introduced to music is through play. Playing musical-centered games, dance parties, or creating musical activities such as making at-home instruments with pots and pans, or even working with crafts to introduce different textures or sounds are all great ways to get started with music.
Maybe your children already have sensory toys throughout the home – take this opportunity to have them listen to the sound that each of their toys makes, and possibly even have them try to mimic the sounds. It makes the learning fun and gives you a sense early on how well music will be received by your child.
Music provides a wide range of benefits for those with sensory issues, and it is worth exploring the various options that are out there for you and your children. Music will prove to be a wonderful foundation for engagement and provide you with a stronger connection as you can all participate in it together, building a deeper and more understanding relationship.