autism, music therapy, music therapy for autism, special needs

Music Therapy in the Classroom: Creating opportunities for your child to succeed in a peer setting

I see most of my clients in an intimate one-on-one setting. Goals and objectives are created especially for each client based upon his or her strengths and challenges. These private sessions allow the opportunity for a more client-centered approach, which enables me to address the needs and desires of my client in that very moment. So if my client is having a bad day, I may throw my session plan out the window, forget most of my goals and objectives and simply spend time assisting my client in becoming stable and grounded, both physiologically and emotionally, through music. But typically, the sessions are planned in advance while the exact timing is frequently created with the client at the beginning of the session in order to reduce and alleviate anxiety about the next 45 minutes.

The Development of Music Repertoire: Over time, our individual sessions become stronger and more consistent as our relationship grows. We develop a repertoire of musical experiences and as my client masters an experience, we’ll add another. The goal is to enable my client the opportunity to feel successful with familiar experiences while always adding new challenges.

The Practice of Successful Musical Experiences to a Peer Setting: The families of some of my clients want  me to assist in creating more opportunities for social interaction as well. Most of the schools in Portland do not have music therapy in their budget or curriculum, so families actually pay me to go into their child’s classroom. This provides the opportunity for my client to share some of the music repertoire we’ve created together with his or her peers. In addition, I get to see a bigger piece of the puzzle when  I am able to observe my client in a group setting. Finally, a classroom of students is able to experience music therapy, observe their peer in successful musical experiences and gain greater respect and insight for a child who may frequently appear aloof or ambivalent. The experience is bonding and really fun for everyone.

Consider Creating This Opportunity For Your Child: If you have a child receiving individual sessions, consider creating an opportunity for therapy to happen in a group setting. Some schools may allow tax-deductible donations for a specific activity or may be able to co-sponsor a session. Even if the sessions don’t happen every week, they may prove to be extremely beneficial for your child’s relationship  with his or her peers.

Angie Kopshy, MM, MT-BC

Neurologic Music Therapist

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