Music strengthens the parts of the brain associated with speech, language, reading, focusing, attention, and concentration, which have been shown to be reduced in people with learning disabilities. The repeating elements of rhythm and melody help our brains develop patterns that improve memory.

Why music therapy might be a good choice 

People with learning difficulties may benefit from music therapy in areas such as:  

  • Communication. 
  • Social skills. 
  • Sensory difficulties. 
  • Behaviour. 
  • Cognition. 
  • Perceptual/motor abilities. 
  • Self-reliance or self-determination.  

The therapist looks for music experiences that resonate with the individual person, forming meaningful relationships and fostering trust. 

Creativity is a powerful development tool, and since music is filled with creative interaction, it’s the perfect tool for people with special needs––especially for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other special needs like cerebral palsy and those with learning disabilities.  

Those with sound sensitivities or unique variances in auditory processing may also find relief through music therapy.

What does a music therapist do for people with autism? 

Music therapists establish a treatment plan with goals and objectives after analysing each person’s strengths and needs, and then give proper care. Music therapists use a range of music and approaches to deal with individuals and small groups. A professional music therapist should be able to create solutions that can be used at home, places of education or work. 

So what can music therapy do? 

Music therapy can: 

  • Encourage the person to listen. 
  • Encourage spontaneous expression. 
  • Stir a desire to communicate. 
  • Strengthen muscles and improve coordination. 
  • Help to build relationships. 
  • Improve concentration. 
  • Provide a means of self-expression. 
  • Stimulate language development through songs and turn-taking. 
  • Excite imagination and creativity. 

Playing an instrument improves hand-eye coordination, and the physical act of singing can improve mood, promote relaxation, and reduce physical and mental stress. Music may also be used to stimulate and engage an individual’s attention, which may be especially beneficial for people who are unable to respond to other treatments.  

At New Directions, we believe that actively participating in music (by playing or singing) is a highly valuable experience for people with learning disabilities because it allows people who have difficulty expressing themselves to express themselves, form relationships, and benefit from personal contact. 

If you have a learning disability, or have a family member who would benefit from our support, please contact us here. 


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