Music has always brought people together, helped people express themselves, and served as a healthy creative outlet. For kids on the autism spectrum, music can turn out to be one of the most beneficial activities to engage in.
Music itself is one of the most stimulating experiences for the brain. Both hemispheres of the brain are active when listening to and playing music. This stimulation of thought allows for deeper levels of self-awareness and overall capacity for understanding.
The act of playing musical instruments, with the complexity of combining notes, keeping rhythm, and using tactile motion, helps develop motor skills and coordination.
Playing musical instruments is not only individually therapeutic, but can be an excellent vehicle for social interaction. The nature of music is itself a metaphor for relationship. The adding of one sound to the other creates layers and depth that can’t be achieved otherwise. Music models this and provides an excellent opportunity for a child with ASD to bond with his or her peers.
If you’re wondering where to start, here are a few suggestions of good instruments to start with.
The ukulele is a bright, simple, and easily transportable introduction to music. This is a great instrument for tactile movement and is often easy to learn.
A piano, or a keyboard to simplify things, is another great place to start. It demonstrates the basics of music and is perfect for teaching musical principles. Electronic keyboards that light up and have different sounds can add to the excitement of learning an instrument as well.
Investing in a drum kit is perhaps the most tactile of all musical instruments. This activity will prove to be the most beneficial for developing motor skills and coordination. Not to mention, a good drummer is always sought after by musical friends.
When it comes to the process of learning the instrument, trained teachers and band classes are always great options, but don’t overlook the unique opportunities learning at home can offer. Whether or no you are already musically talented, the act of teaching a musical instrument to your child, or learning together, may end up being one of the best ways to build a solid relationship with him or her.