VIRTUAL MUSIC THERAPY & AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neuro-developmental condition affecting 1 in 54 children in the United States today. It is related to brain development and, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, 5th Edition (DSM-5), ASD affects behavior, learning, communication, and socialization. Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder typically start during the early stages of childhood, and it often causes functional problems in school, work, and social environments.
**Side Note** - We refer to people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder by using identity-first language. Here's a great article for more information regarding the importance of semantics and nuances between identity-first language and person-first language.
Briefly, it can become difficult for Autistic individuals to function in a neuro-typical society. However, personalized care and early developmental support can significantly impact neurological growth and promote success and independence.
However, it can be challenging to find the right balance of support, especially for those who are situated and residing in rural areas. Through the implementation of telehealth programs, studies report that Autistic clients show significant improvement in clinical and home-based settings. Evaluation of the participants becomes much more swift and accessible after telehealth programs have been administered.
The term telehealth has been defined as the use of telecommunication technologies to enhance long-distance clinical health care, professional health-related education, and health administration. Studies show that it has a practical methodology for solving problems that are related to the shortage of rural providers and geographical issues. Suffice to say that telehealth makes cost savings achievable while significantly improving health outcomes.
Music Aiding ASD
Music has an engaging nature, and the accessibility of music in our daily lives often elicits positive behaviors and responses. Individuals of all ages, cultures, degrees, and socioeconomic backgrounds respond to the bewitching aspects of music. In the context of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the research literature indicates that music has been an eminent solution in terms of therapy, diagnostics, and behavioral observations. The capacities of musical elements bring out the exceptional and artistic qualities of an individual, and it also serves therapeutically in the case of Autism Spectrum Disorder. According to traditional standards, music as a medium of therapy for Autistic individuals has always concentrated on social interaction, communication skills, and social-emotional behaviors.
Keen assessment of the respective procedure shows that Music Therapy allows us to understand the current state of an individual's functioning while establishing and engaging them in a variety of developmentally sound and safe musical experiences. Music Therapy integrates evidence-based strategies where musical prompting and reinforcements are reflected. Music Therapy sessions are often a collaboration of various musical stimuli that provide a strong sense of familiarity, consistency, predictability, and novelty. These characteristics help and support the learning patterns of Autistic individuals. According to various researches, it has been identified through evidence that music serves as a domain of interest and preserved skills for individuals. The empirical behavioral research even suggests that Autistic individuals have an intact or superior pitch and timbre processing abilities.
Individual Music Therapy Sessions
Music Therapy sessions encompass various opportunities for musical experiences, and every session happens to be different from the other because the clients and therapists, who participate and facilitate the sessions. Board-Certified Music Therapists analyze and study each individual's needs accordingly. It is paramount for the therapist to see in what creative direction is the individual heading. Since each Music Therapy session is distinctive in its own way, a lot of them are comprised of live musical engagements through the use of instrumental and vocal performances; often musical improvisation through music composition, moving to music, and passive listening takes place as well. Through these music therapy sessions, the therapists strive to address the occurring difficulties and work towards improving and strengthening sensorimotor, communication, and social skills. The utilization of Music Therapy establishes a therapeutic relationship and addresses the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of Austic individuals.
Each Music Therapy intervention is conducted by evidence-based research and incorporates identified ASD-specific practices in each session. Parents and caregivers of Autistic individuals should note that music therapy for young Autistic children is quite effective, and it can support the improvement of language and communication, interpersonal skills, and activate self-regulatory responses. Parents and caregivers of Autistic children are highly encouraged to access the convenience of Tele-Music Therapy, and learn the importance and essential support that Music Therapy aims to provide for their loved ones. Often, home-based and Tele-Music Therapy founded on family-centered practices can enhance social engagement in the home environment.
Virtual Music Therapy utilized in the context of Autism Spectrum Disorder can be extremely beneficial for young children. Through the access of Virtual Music Therapy, the predicaments of not being able to socialize and function according to the diagnostics and behavioral observations can be supported and improved. The benefits of Music Therapy are not temporary, but if the therapy is utilized in the right manner, then the results will prove to last longer than expected. Considering the contemporary impediments prevailing due to the COVID’19 pandemic, many Music Therapy sessions have switched to a virtual platform from which individuals can continue to benefit from, and through this adaptation, Music Therapy has proven to be amply favorable.
The methods devised through the use of telehealth will ensure progression even beyond COVID’19, since it will continue to facilitate Autistic individuals who do not have access to necessary. It will prove to be advantageous for individuals who are under the geographical plight, and they hail from the rural areas where accessibility is often an issue. Music Therapy aided by telehealth sessions will also enable parents and caregivers of Autistic children to grow and, even though a lock down has been enforced upon many communities, the therapeutic sessions can continue to take place and facilitate children with the necessary aid of Music Therapy.
The tools of telehealth and Virtual Music Therapy will prove to be significant method of support for Autistic individuals; it can, therefore, adequately and sufficiently support progression in each session that takes place between the individual, the family, and the therapist.