Blog Category: Children with Special Needs

I Have a Drum! Now What?

Why Music?

A music therapist’s voice can be so important, especially when reaching out to populations that are not always able to respond and communicate by conventional means. Music has an impact on all areas of growth and development, making it a particularly valuable therapy in early interventionMeredith Pizzi, music therapist for various populations including early intervention work work. Bonding and attachment are just some of the areas that can be enhanced through moving together in music.

On May 9th, our founder, Meredith Pizzi, MPA, MT-BC and Laetitia Brundage, MT-BC, one of our music therapists, presented at the Massachusetts Early Intervention Consortium’s annual conference. Their presentation, entitled I Have a Drum and Maracas! Now What? provided guidance for music therapists working with children and families participating in early intervention work. Intended to offer colleagues some tried and true strategies and tools for behavior management, the training included large and small group experiences, song sharing and writing, as well as a prepared lecture.

Developmental Framework

Elizabeth Schwartz, LCAT, MT-BC, Meredith’s co-founder of Raising Harmony and Sprouting Melodies, created a developmental framework that breaks down skill development into five categories or areas: awareness, trust, independence, control and responsibility. Music therapists can stylize their sessions to target specific traits exhibited in these five categories. For example, if a music therapist is working on control with a group or individual, he or she may use a song that allows for instrument choice.

Learning ObjectivesLaetitia Brundage, music therapist for various populations including early intervention work

Key learning objectives established the goal of the session. The first objective involved participants being able to identify ways that music can be used to facilitate skill development in the areas of gross and fine motor skills, language, communication and social interaction.

The next objective was learning songs that targeted these specific developmental skills in addition to songs that do not require instruments or musical materials. Songs that were shared included:

  • Row It Faster by Elizabeth Schwartz, LCAT,MT-BC (skill development – Awareness)
  • Dancing Kids by Laetitia Brundage, MT-BC (skill development – Independence)
  • Train Ride, by Alison Albino (skill development – Trust)

At the end of the two hour presentation, participants left with the ability to list three ways to support and encourage positive behavior through music, create solutions to challenges with behavior and sing three new songs and suggest functional uses for the songs.

Music therapy can have a profoundly positive effect with early intervention populations. If you are a parent or early intervention provider looking to incorporate music therapy, please contact us!

 

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Autism Awareness Month

autism awareness ribbonApril is Autism Awareness Month

Autism Awareness month was launched by activists and individuals with autism, to counter the negative language and imagery associated with the disorder. Autism is considered a spectrum disorder, with the severity of symptoms varying by individual. For some on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum, these symptoms may result in relatively mild challenges. For others with more severe symptoms, repetitive behaviors and lack of spoken language can interfere with everyday life.

The focus during Autism Awareness Month is on sharing positive, respectful and accurate information.

Exactly what is Autism?

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a bio-neurological developmental disability that typically appears before the age of three in children. It affects the areas of language, communication, sensory processing, social interaction and motor skills. Some characteristics of ASD are social-interaction difficulties, communication challenges and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors. Often other medical conditions and challenges accompany the basic symptoms of autism.

While there is no single cause or “cure” for autism, increased awareness and access to early intervention and other support services often lead to significantly improved outcomes. In some cases, the diverse symptoms of autism can be completely overcome.

In 2016, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the prevalence of autism had increased to one in every 68 births –  nearly twice the 2004 rate. Although autism is the fastest growing developmental disorder, it is also the most underfunded.

Music Therapy and Autism Spectrum Disorders

Individuals with ASD often respond positively to music. Considered to be a “universal language,” music can provide a bridge for those who have trouble expressing themselves or communicating. Due to the multisensory stimulation (auditory, visual, and tactile) of a music therapy session, music therapists can address a multitude of symptoms and behaviors.

Music stimulates both hemispheres of the brain, allowing a music therapist to use songs or instruments to support cognitive activity, building self-awareness and improving relationships with others. For individuals dealing with autism, personal interactions are often difficult, but by introducing an instrument into their therapy, they may first connect with the object and then open up to the therapist or group. Music serves as an alternative form of communication and expression.

Rock Out For Autism on April 29

Erin Savage is the frontwoman in the rock band SeaKing Heir, as well as an educator in the autism program of a private special education collaborative. SeaKing Heir is one of five bands playing at O’Brien’s in Lynn on Saturday, April 29th. Door funds from the concert will be donated to Roman Music Therapy Services to be used for music therapy scholarships for children with autism and other special needs. For more information about the event, see the SeaKing Heir Facebook page.

If you are a parent with questions about how music therapy could help your child, or an educator or program looking for more information, please contact us today!

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Music Therapy Group Services for Children and Young Adults

New group services that we are excited about!

Many of our clients are school aged children and young adults, ages 3-22. For them, music therapy can increase self-confidence and foster development through exploratory activitiesMaking Music Creates Joy, among other benefits. While many children and young adults receive services at school or during a supported program, our music therapists have been developing group programs that can be done in our center and that can supplement those other group or individual sessions they may be a part of. With the intent of increasing engagement, developing community and fostering leadership skills, we have three new groups to offer families.

Music Therapy Club (3-7yrs)

Music Therapy Club, which meets on Tuesdays at 4PM, is designed to be a supportive music making environment that facilitates engagement, joy and success for all. Children can participate in music experiences that take full advantage of their individual strengths while minimizing the impact of difficulties. A family-based group for parents and children, siblings are also welcome to join the fun! 

Pre-teen Music Therapy Group (9-13 years)

This group, which meets on Mondays at 4:30PM, offers a supportive environment where pre-teens with special needs can improve social skills, build bonds and engage in peer-to-peer interactions. Opportunities for leadership and creative expression, all with the help of music, help children achieve their goals. 

Teen Music Therapy Group (14-22 years)

Specially designed for teens and young adults with special needs, this group uses structured music making improvisation, songwriting or lyric analysis to engage with clients and foster creativity. Skill building and LeadershipAll within a safe space, clients can explore potential and develop satisfying relationships with others. This group meets on Mondays at 5:30PM.

While the Music Therapy Club requires parent or caregiver participation, the pre-teen and teen groups are for building independence. For this purpose, students will participate in group. Parents and caregivers are invited to spend the time in our reception area, enjoying a cup of coffee and building communities of their own. All three groups run on four week intervals and cost $115.

Special demo day Monday, March 20th.

To give families an idea of the group dynamic before committing to signing up we will be holding a demo day on Monday, March 20th of the pre-teen and teen groups. If you are interested in attending, please call the office at 781-224-3300.

Sign up for the Music Therapy Club  online or by calling the office.

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Roman Music Therapy on Ablevision

Roman Music Therapy Services is excited to have worked on a project with Ablevision of Malden to create a television segment about music therapy. As their website says:

Ablevision is a show produced entirely by people with disabilities. We are a group of video producers dedicated to educating and promoting awareness of the disabled community.

We are really excited to share the work of Roman Music Therapy Services with this great organization and the 44 communities in Massachusetts that receive their television program.

Ablevision was recorded in Roman Music Therapy Services’ first studio located in Malden, as well as on site at Charlestown High School during a class music therapy session and at the Melrose Public Library in March. Thank you to all of those who participated and were interviewed for this special music therapy feature.

The taping was completed in April of 2009 and the show aired in late summer of 2009. To learn more about this great organization, check out their website at www.ablevision.org. They also have a youtube channel at www.youtube.com/ablevision. Please check it out!

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