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Mar 25

Music

Okay so I love music. Loved it as long as I can remember and loved all types of music. From the Eagles, Tom Petty and The Beatles that my parents would play around the house growing up to the Cranberries and U2 my older sisters would play – I love it all. Due to my love of music, I strangely hate silence. I want it in the background when possible. Music was one of the first things that my husband and I bonded over when we first started dating. We would listen to music for hours, talk about bands and introduce music to each other. I believe music is something most people love. It speaks to children, teenagers, adults and the elderly. Music can remind us of our youth, a favorite song from that movie we love or help us get up and dance.

Brody LOVES music. My beautiful boy who rarely emits spontaneous communication will go from only saying, “drink please” to singing all the lyrics of an entire song. Not all music mind you, his taste is random and very specific. He has to have grown to obsession before he loves a song. Music seems to connect the parts of his brain where there is a failure to connect. Brody cannot tell me about his day but Brody can sing me a song and I can see the joy it brings to him. Our families listened to him sing La Vie En Rose (the Louis Armstrong version not the French one). I am almost certain most people got a bit teary-eyed as we heard Brody sing because we were able to hear the sound of his voice which is rare.

This is why music therapy is important and beneficial for children with developmental disabilities, especially autism. Music transcends many things, languages, age, race, gender and even ability to communicate. We all love music, we all listen to music and music brings out reactions and emotions. There are those stories out there in the news that I occasionally hear or have the chance to watch where a child, teenager or even adult with autism is able to sing a song. If the story would only be that, we should all stand in amazement and be witnesses to a miracle. However, many times these stories go a step further and some people whom at one point in their lives or still, have a problem expressing themselves or communicating, are able to sing or play instruments with talent that would amaze me if they were typical functioning people. This illustrates my point – music is important and vital to people with autism! It is also backed by decades of scientific studies showing the benefits of music therapy.

Music therapy allows children and teens to increase communication and social skills as well as motor skills while exploring sounds and instruments. Unfortunately, in my wonderful state of Arizona, music therapy was a service whose rates were cut in half years ago in 2009 when the state was having a budget crisis. That money slashed for the budget crisis became permanent. Most insurers do not cover music therapy either. Thus, families are left with only one option – private pay per session. The people who worked as music therapists need to make a living and have degrees and certification in this field. Therefore, when the state cut the rates they would reimburse for music therapy many companies switched to only private pay or therapists stopped working in their chosen field. These days it is near impossible to find music therapy. Private pay is something we cannot afford as we are putting our efforts towards other private therapies.

As Brody’s love of music is constantly weighing on me, I have decided to try to have daily music time. I have printed out lyrics to his favorite songs and put them in a folder. He pulls out the folder daily (and even without music) will sing every word of the songs. We play music, we dance at times and I play new songs for him. I do not have the gift or talent of playing or having musical instruments but I am hoping we can work towards that. In the end, I guess I am attempting to be a self-made (although severely lacking the skills and education) of being my son’s music therapist. This is just what happens for so many parents of those with autism. We do what we must and what we have to, as long as it benefits our child.

To learn more about the details of music therapy in Arizona when the rates were cut – here is an article about the situation from 2009 in the Arizona Republic http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2009/02/26/20090226therapycut0226.html

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