With guitars, maracas, tambourines and drums in their hands, hundreds of small children and adults are ready to have some fun.
This is a free program called AnM HangOut sponsored by the Autism & Music Foundation and is held for three hours on the first Saturday of each month. The goal is to develop through music cognitive and motor skills in children with autism or with special needs and at the same time allow them to socialize, meet new friends, feel accepted and understood.
Families of children and adults with special needs are invited to the activity, in which with the help of volunteers, they play different games and do activities with music, art, gardening and sometimes sports.
“With music, we practice exercises to learn to be patient, to socialize and to wait for our turns. It’s like a game,” said Patricia Kayser, who founded Autism & Music in 2013.
Now, the activity is held at different locations, either in a park, in a school or in an institution. The goal is to let them have their own space and to offer those activities every day.
The foundation’s concept to use music as an instrument to connect with those children came about when Kayser, originally from Ecuador, saw the immediate connection that her brother Christian had with music. He was diagnosed with autism at age four, but after music was introduced to him, she noticed significant changes in his behavior.
“He started to develop his senses more, and he came to my room. He did not point before and then he started pointing to the guitar. He began to be more sociable, to look more into the eyes,” she said.
According to some studies, music therapy is a technique to which autistic children respond well by improving their interpersonal and social relationships. In addition, it works in areas relating to fine and gross motor skills, body awareness, attention, non-verbal communication, certain rigid behavior patterns, physical contact, anxiety and the integration into work group activities such as singing or dancing.
The philosophy of the foundation is based on the motto Somos Uno (we are one), which promotes the union of human beings, regardless of their abilities, country of origin, culture or age.
“We believe that all people have either certain abilities or disabilities, and not everyone can do the same. Despite that, we all must be respected, loved and included in our society because We are all One,” she emphasized.
For those interested, you can write to email@example.com.
Benefits of Music Therapy in Autistic Children
1. Decreases aggressiveness
This was confirmed by one of the most recent studies conducted by researchers at Universiti Putra Malaysia, which found that music therapy has positive effects on the behavior of children with autism. The research, published in the Pertanika Journal, showed a reduction of almost half of cases of aggressiveness and of physical restlessness, that were otherwise present for no apparent reason.
2. Improves gross and fine coordination skills
Dancing, imitating movements, following the rhythm of music, helps improve coordination of hands and feet, while stimulating fine motor skills.
3. Encourages verbal and non-verbal communication
Children with autism can use music and dance to express their inner world.
4. Reduces anxiety and repetitive behaviors
Focusing on certain rhythmic (music-like) movements allows children with autism to reduce repetitive behaviors.
5. Stimulates perception
Specialists say that music therapy stimulates auditory, visual, tactile and kinesthetic perception in children with autism.
Haz clic para leer en Español: Para los niños con autismo la a música como instrumento de conexión