February 15, 2011

Music Therapy Progress

Swaying to the music
I've mentioned before how Moe seems to be quite musically inclined. He sings a lot, and is always in tune. A few months ago, we started going to music therapy. Jeff and I, as well as Moe's teacher, were all really excited about it. I was hoping this could be the key to unlocking some of Moe's communication and play skills, and also a way to develop his musical aptitude into, perhaps, a real talent.

But as I've had to learn over and over, there is no magic bullet and all things take time. The first couple months of music were rough. Moe seemed to enjoy going but would jump from over excited to trying to leave the room to major meltdown. It was exhausting for me, and I began to wonder if it was worth it. I'm happy to report that things are going much better lately.

Look at that imitation!

Our music therapy sessions are 45 minutes long. They are similar to an ABA session, although all the activities involve music. We might do imitation games with the drum or the xylophone (Moe's favorite); have Moe make choices between different activiites, like playing with scarves or shakers; or ask Moe to make selections during songs, like finding the correct animal during Old Macdonald. There is als some time for just playing and exploring the instruments, and Moe likes to strum the guitar and play the piano.

The last two sessions have gone really well. In general, Moe has been more regulated,so keeping him calm in class has been a little easier. He's still excited, and some things that are generally difficult for him, like making choices, are still challenging. But we've seen a lot of improvement in terms of engagement, eye contact, and imitation. We've seen these improvements outside of music therapy as well.

Great eye contact
It is impossible to determine whether school, music, OT, or just developent is the cause of these improvements. With autism, you end up doing a lot of trial and error until you find a combination that works. You hold that pattern until it isn't working anymore. Some things, like Moe's general calmness and better regulation, can come and go. But for now, I'm pretty happy with the way things are going.

Most of all, Moe seems to be having a lot of fun!


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