How Children with Autism Benefit from Virtual Music Therapy Activities 

By Abbey Marra

Schools across the US are closing once again due to a spike in COVID-19 cases, forcing many students to continue their studies virtually. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often face a unique set of challenges in regards to home-based learning, but telehealth resources including virtual music therapy activities have proven to be excellent therapeutic tools.

The link between ASD and music dates back to some of the earliest descriptions of individuals with Autism, when many were described as having “perfect pitch.” Since then, there have been numerous claims that music therapy can have an exceptional impact on those with ASD, but with little conclusive evidence.

That changed with a 2018 study conducted by researchers at the University of Montreal and the University of McGill, who enlisted 51 children between the ages of 6-12 with ASD to participate in a clinical trial regarding music intervention.

The children were randomly assigned to two different groups: one involving music therapy activities and one not. Parents of children in the music group reported a significant improvement in their child’s communication skills and quality of family life, well beyond those reported for the control group. The study became the first clinical trial to suggest that music intervention for children with ASD can improve both brain connectivity and communication.

                                                                          Music therapy activities can provide exceptional benefits for children with ASD Courtesy: The House of Music Therapy

Aparna Nadig, co-senior author of the study and associate professor at McGill’s School of Communication Sciences and Disorders explained that “the universal appeal of music makes it globally applicable, and [it] can be implemented with relatively few resources on a large scale in multiple settings such as home and school.”

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to transform society, many music therapists have turned to telehealth solutions. Katie Schripsesma, a therapist at the Children’s Therapy Center in Washington has been incorporating “Music Monday Videos” on the center’s Facebook page to keep children engaged: “Therapy looks a lot like play…I like to do a lot of body awareness songs that have tactile inputs that alert the brain to different parts of the body—head, shoulders, knees and toes, for example. Music can be a really good influence in getting speech and communication going as kids listen to words and sing along.”

Virtual music therapy activities for children with ASD have been shown to bypass cognitive and language impairments, helping facilitate communication skills, form social relationships, and promote cognitive progression. Movement to music is often an essential part of music therapy sessions, and with free videos online, resources such as GoNoodle provide movement-based videos ranging from short 3-minute dances to longer compilations that parents and students can access at home.

At Fine Art Miracles, we are proud to offer virtual music therapy activities for both groups and individuals, facilitated by board-certified music therapists.

Our music therapy sessions are designed to promote group members’ creativity, strengthen relationships with peers, and maintain and build upon cognitive capacity. Each session is catered to the population being served, and experiences are easily adaptable to each group member’s needs.

                                                                                                                     Virtual music therapy activities keep children engaged during COVID-19 home-based learning

The pandemic may have taken many things away from us, but it hasn’t taken away music!





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