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Use the information provided on this site as an educational resource for determining your options and making your
own informed choices. It is not intended as medical advice or to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any specific illness.
Toys, Products, and Ideas
for Sensory Education
Music Therapy is an established health profession that uses musical activities to enhance social,
communication and behavioral issues. Music Therapy encourages socialization, self-expression,
communication and motor development. Music Therapy nourishes the quality of a child's life. It provides a
unique opportunity for a child with special needs to embark upon a stimulating and creative musical
journey. Through that journey, the child can learn new social tools and more rewarding interpersonal
relationships may be explored.  

Music therapy is the structured use of music experiences to facilitate positive changes in human behavior.  
"Positive changes in human behavior" means that music therapy aims to help people develop skills that
have to do with overall development and personal growth. "Human behavior" is an incredibly broad term
but includes these simplified descriptive categories; cognitive abilities, communication skills, social
domain, motor skills and emotional development. Often the goals and objectives chosen are very specific
and may include things like attention span, self-esteem, listening skills, turn taking, nonverbal
communication, self expression, etc.

  • promote wellness
  • manage stress
  • alleviate pain
  • express feelings
  • enhance memory
  • improve communication
  • promote physical rehabilitation

If you would like to use music more effectively at home with someone you know who has special needs try
doing some of the following:

  • Sing and don't be critical of how you sound! The person you are singing to will respond to the music and your
    enthusiasm, not whether or not you have perfect pitch. When singing you must remember:
-SLOW DOWN! Singing too fast is the most common mistake.
-repeat, repeat, repeat and then repeat again
-use simple language that is at the level of the listener
-let your listener learn at their own pace
-make up songs about what you are doing to reinforce language (driving, walking, playing,
a certain toy, brushing teeth, getting dressed, etc.)
  • Move to music. Clap, stamp, blink, wave, wiggle or tap. Use any actions you both can do.
  • Play instruments or toys to music. Start and stop with the music. Take turns. Play together.
  • Be a model and do what you want your partner to do. Don't expect your child to sing or move if you won' t.
  • Listen to music. Choose different styles of music, classical, country, rock, vocal, jazz, bluegrass, opera,
    instrumental, etc.
  • Exaggerate what you do to encourage imitation. This includes facial expressions, body movements, vocal
    expression and oral movements.
  • Remember to praise participation at any level.
  • Do not "over music" your child. Be aware of how much time your child is exposed to music and sounds, including
    radio and television. Getting too much makes each experience less meaningful.
  • When doing music activities with your child get rid of distractions like TV, toys, outside noise and interruptions.
  • Have fun with music! Music is a natural teacher so keep music time enjoyable for everyone.

Music Together classes have been a big part of my children's growing up.  I always enjoyed taking my kids
to music class and watching them experience the different sounds, songs, and instruments.  The teachers
are very interactive and vibrant and they have special dances and moves to go with each song.  Each
session has a new tape/CD that you get to keep.  We still have at least four of the them that we play in the
car and can all sing-a-long to. Find a class in
Santa Clara or Santa Cruz Counties here!!

Kids Can Sing (in Aptos) is a singing school designed to teach children and adults who have a natural
desire to sing, how to use proper body mechanics to sing correctly with ease and confidence.

See our
Dance & Movement Therapy page for additional musical ideas.

Computer Software and Online

Here is just one study done on music and children, "In Rhode Island, researchers studied eight public
school first grade classes.  Half of the classes became "test arts" groups, receiving ongoing music and visual
arts training.  In kindergarten, this group had lagged behind in schoolastic performance.  After seven
months, the students were given a standardized test.  The "test arts" group had caught up to their fellow
students in reading and surpassed their classmates in math by 22%. In the second year of the project, the
arts students widened this margin even further.  Students were also evaluated on attitude and behavior.  
Classroom teachers noted improvement in these areas also.  See many other studies at
Piano Wizard.
Music Therapy