We met our first music therapist when Declan was in the hospital for his first round of surgeries. Skeptical when she first walked into the room, I was fast won over by her ability to engage and calm him. They sang together as she played on her guitar, she gave him instruments to play along, and one time, after hearing that Dec was taking piano lessons at home, she arranged to have a keyboard brought to his bed. What was so interesting about her work was the way that she was so completely tuned into Declan. Rather than guiding him, she would "lead from behind," and let Declan's choices and actions guide her. For many subsequent visits, we actually sought her out and invited her to visit Declan in his room. The pediatric floor at NYU Langone actually has a full time music therapist whose job is to not only engage children in positive, fun, and meaningful ways, but also to promote wellness, help manage stressful situations, alleviate pain, help patients to express themselves, and to promote rehabilitation. We now have a music therapist come to our home to work with Declan once a week. I am still learning a lot about the effects of music on the brain, but from my more recent research and experience, I am learning that music can have a positive effect on so many issues that occur with people with special needs. Judy, Declan's music teacher from Connecticut Music Therapy, tends to work with Declan on his auditory processing, expressive and receptive language, executive function, sensory integration, memory, and sequencing, while also teaching him to read music and learn to play different instruments.
Take a look at the video below about music therapy. It was created by the Berklee College of Music: