• Good News

    “My Wish”

        My sincere apologies to all my faithful subscribers, until recently, I have put out a newsletter weekly. I  have acquired some new work and have two children graduating this year, which has required my presence at many different functions. In light of that fact, I thought I would give you a glimpse of how music functions in our family. This week, as I sat working, my daughter needed to use my computer and had an assignment to write. “Give a tittle of a song, and what that songs means to you; Here is what she wrote:       As some of you may know, my mom is a music…

  • Good News

    Avoidance vs. Seeing it Through

          When a child, or for that matter, an adult, devises an unhealthy or negative behavior and utilizes it to get what they think they want or gain control, what do we do? What happens afterward? What is the end result? First we have to know what it is that the child really wants. If we give what they claim they want to them, is it helping them to function better now AND later? For example, if a child cries because someone else gets the lollipop that he or she wants, if we give the lollipop to her, it is true that the crying may stop. Is that…

  • Good News

    Opening Up Lines of Communication: Relate Instead of Correct

          Often those on the autism spectrum present behaviors which may seem odd, antisocial, or nonsensical to us. In order to help these individuals, the well-meaning urge for many to correct these behaviors comes to the forefront. Today I would like to delve slightly deeper into why correcting these behaviors instead of accepting and relating to them may be a mistake. We know that children on the spectrum have sensory integration difficulties, and therefore, perceive the world very differently. This thought is a key component to this conversation. Our perceptions ignite our opinions, our interests, our choices, and ultimately our behavior. Judging a child’s unusual choices of behavior…

  • Good News

    Asking Why And Honoring All That One Can Give

      I have written many articles on subjects such as developing children’s strengths  https://backmountainmusictherapy.com/2013/03/the-amazing-power-of-building-on-a-childs-strength/  , achieving regulation,   https://backmountainmusictherapy.com/2012/11/part-4-achieving-self-regulation/ ,  significance in an individual’s development    https://backmountainmusictherapy.com/2012/04/recognizing-development-and-its-significance-in-each-individual/ , and sensory integration  https://backmountainmusictherapy.com/2011/11/sensory-integration-meeting-the-need/   .  On a day-to-day basis in my professional work, I have frequently been complimented on the degree of patience others have noticed.  Most times, I truly have not felt like I was being patient.  I think that if I were to take all these categories and boil them down to two ingredients that make all this possible, it would be asking why and honoring what an individual does give. Whether I am interacting or working with children on the spectrum, those…

  • Good News

    The Amazing Power of Building on a Child’s Strength

          As I reflected on my busy and varied week, working with kids of all ages, I stopped to think what theme pervaded my week. The children displayed many strengths, but often, as adults, we don’t look beyond the tip of the iceberg, and just see them disguised as weaknesses. Why do we do that? I thought of the near-teen boys in the group of 30 or so kids with which I work who are always throwing out silly comments from the back of the group.  That silliness, capitalized upon, encouraged genuine leadership. The boys led the others in song- yes, song! These typical pre-teens were singing in…

  • Good News

    Play and Shutting Down the Critical-Thinking Mind through Music

          In observing some of my newer clients and reflecting on some of my older clients this week, I saw the importance of coming in the back door, or shutting off the critically thinking mind, even in adults. This is when some productive, and more importantly, more permanent learning can evolve. Don’t get me wrong; there is a need for that critical thinking mind, but today I would like to focus on play and shutting the critical mind down. I watched two new clients this week, the first a little non-verbal autistic boy whose attention was instantly grabbed by only the physical piano. Before the session began ,he…

  • Good News

    Rhythm as a Healing Element

          Last week I talked about rhythm – the most basic element of music – and how we are born to live rhythmically. We are born with a basic beat, a heartbeat, and live our lives at regular intervals, minute to minute, hour by hour, day and night, month to month, year to year. Rhythm sets us up to predict: we pretty much know what comes after 1, 2, 3, _. But what happens, although we continue to have a heartbeat day and night and year to year, when we live our lives with unpredictability? What if we go to school and come home at the same time…

  • Good News

    Rhythm: The Element of Movement

        After taking a coarse from Christine Stevens entitled “Music Medicine”, one of the concepts brought up in her coarse specifically, I had begun to look at , ignited reflection on the work I do, the concept of rhythm. Rhythm- the measurement of pulse, a regular scheduled timing of continuous sound and silence, movement and rest. Rhythm, the element that contains its players and grounds and supports them. It is the glue that holds the group together, while simultaneously moving them together. We start out life with a heartbeat, a regular pulse. Everything else develops from there and is grounded and supported by our own heartbeat. The wonderful thing…

  • Good News

    The Importance of the “Rest”

        Recently, I have been concerned with my client “Frankie.” Concerned because I haven’t been seeing outward growth behavior demonstrated. “Frankie” is so intensely connected to the music that after sixty minutes, when I put the guitar away, he runs screeching because it is being put down. I see progress, then often no outward demonstrating behaviors, quiet, and stillness- yet intense listening and connectedness. I even warn parents, especially, when I hear pop-out words often – then silence. This happens frequently. A child needs time to process, so we have to wait and see what happens next. This is the part that makes me question myself often, although it…

  • Good News

    The Benefits of Drumming

          The wonderful thing about a drum is that there are no wrong notes. This makes playing successful to anyone who tries it. Who would ever think that giving some drums to a small group of chaotic, unfocused, hyper children could actually pull their attention together and help increase their social skills. Knowing that children automatically speed up and automatically want to bang away as soon as they get the drums, stir some doubts. But with careful management, the magnetic pull of a good beat pulls our brains in its direction. Watch a classroom move in sync as a good beat is pumped into the room. Most all…

  • Good News

    Music and Visuals, A Key to Success with Speech Difficulties

        Think about it. What happens if I sing “A, B, C, D, E, F… ?’ What do you do in your head if I play seven notes of a scale ” Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti… ,” and I leave out the last note? Do you not fill it in in your head? What happens when you hear a significant song from your teen years? Do you go back in time in your memory to either a particular event, time, or emotion? Everyone who works with children with speech and language difficulties knows to use visuals, visuals, visuals, Yes, they certainly help. Using another sense helps…

  • Good News

    Why I Love Music Therapy

        Many things happened on this quiet snowy Martin Luther King Jr. Day. My husband left for work, and my oldest son for college.  My younger son was still sleeping, not yet starting his schedule of activities, and my daughter at an overnight. I had the choice today to start out and go to my first session, or wait until four o’clock, our scheduled time. I decided to start my day with the session.  I went to the house of two autistic brothers. Upon arrival, I climbed the steps to their “room,” which is a fairly large empty one with three swings hanging from the ceiling. Being a Cape…

  • Good News

    Guest Post: How Music Can Be Therapeutic To Kids With Special Needs

    Music Therapy Advocacy month has arrived! As part of this community this weeks post is written by guest blogger Naomi Esterely.  Naomi Esterly is a stay-at-home mom to two rambunctious, yet adorable, little boys and a newborn baby girl.  In her spare time she balances writing freelance for 1800Wheelchair.Com and coaching her community’s little league. As society has evolved, so have our abilities and know-how when it comes to special-needs children. Years ago, children with special needs were completely misunderstood and almost completely seen as a burden and shame. Medically, these children were hurt more than helped in many cases. Today things are much different. Families no longer live in…

  • Good News

    Music Therapy Advocacy Month, Changing A Life

          Introduction: Advocacy –> Recognition –> Access Since 2005, the American Music Therapy Association and the Certification Board for Music Therapists have collaborated on a State Recognition Operational Plan. The primary purpose of this plan is to get music therapy and our MT-BC credential recognized by individual states so that citizens can  more easily access our services. The AMTA Government Relations staff and CBMT Regulatory Affairs staff provide guidance and technical support to state task forces throughout the country as they work towards state recognition. To date, their work has resulted in over 35 active state task forces, 2 licensure bills passed in 2011,1 licensure bill passed in…

  • Good News

    Speech Series – Part 5 Word Retrieval and Auditory Processing Difficulties

    In this last part of the speech series, I decided to write about using Music Therapy in word retrieval problems, something I am finding myself running across frequently lately.  This is for the children who already have some controlled speech.  Some of the children can speak in one to three word sentences, but not at all fluently or when upset. Because the emotion is too overwhelming, they cannot retrieve the words they already have.  In these cases, the lack of fluency is serious because it takes so long and so much work to get the words they want that in an emergency, there are no words to grab quick enough. …

  • Good News

    Speech Series Part 4;Signs That Speech is Possible

        How do you know wen expressive language (speech) is too far off of a goal? I do not believe that when after a child can point, that is when they are motivated to speak. None of the young people I have worked with have ever reacted by gesturing, pointing, or signing first when at the extreme of emotions (fright frustration, happiness). It is always sound that comes out, and sometimes unexpected language. This  blog was one that was hard to know quite where to start. Kids with neurological difficulties and developmental delays so often come in anywhere on the language spectrum. Some of the children whom I had…

  • Good News

    Part 3: Eliciting Speech

    Back to my mantra: watch the child. Let the child direct and the therapist/parent/teacher support. Even if they child is not giving sound, one can support movement or even breathing with sound. Repeated sound, as I had spoken about in the previous blog (https://backmountainmusictherapy.com/2012/12/where-to-start-control-of-oral-movements/), sometimes gives structure to a child’s irrelevant, chaotic, seemingly impulsive behavior. Structure is a pathway to purpose. When we speak of music as being a sensory experience (concerning the autistic population), I think most people’s first thought is “hearing.” I personally find that most of my autistic individuals initially connect with the sound, but learn and make sense from the vibrations of sound. This may initially…

  • Good News

    5 Part Series – Music and Speech

    Why does music make speech so accessible? Why are there so many stories about nonverbal clients (aphasic, apraxic, stroke victims, autistic, etc.) singing when they can’t speak a word? Why is Music Therapy so valuable to those who have difficulty with spoken language? Why is Music Therapy such a value to the autistic community? Although I am not a speech therapist, I see progress in speech more than any other area within the population with which I work. Some of the verbal reactions I witness in Music Therapy would be considered unbelievable by others. This has forced me to research science behind this. First, lets begin with what we all know.…

  • Good News

    Part Five: Music Therapy, Bringing to Form Functional Skills

    Functional skill level is ready to begin after, after, after the client has achieved some organization and self-regulation ability. If we haven’t learned yet that trying to stop that “stimming” isn’t going too far, we better go back to the beginning. We have to do something about the need for the “stimming” first. My last blog in this series is a case study summary exemplifying this series; Music Therapy, from a Tentative to Functional Skill. I first started to see “Cameron” in an early intervention center. I remember noticing “Cameron” in the halls before seeing him in Music Therapy. He was a three-year-old, severely autistic boy who daily caught my…

  • Good News

    Part 4: Achieving Self-Regulation

    I have written about self-regulation several times and have given a couple of visual examples on video. This week in my series on Music Therapy I hope to connect some of the dots. I have often talked in my newsletters about the humanistic approach in which I believe wholeheartedly. Although Music Therapy is “evidence-based”, I tend to avoid that term so that people can understand the humanistic qualities of Music Therapy instead of perceiving it as a rigid scientific formula. Music Therapy is evidence-based and individualized, as is any other therapy that is obtaining optimal results. I personally have witnessed, and have had parents of clients relay to me, experiences of other…

  • Good News

    Part 3: Music, the Organizing Tool

    The last two weeks I have talked about music therapy and attentiveness to our clients. Today I want to expand and talk about the results of these combined subjects, mainly the organization they help our clients to develop. As we promote music therapy as a nonthreatening medium, we often talk about how the qualities of music help to: captivate and maintain attention stimulate many parts of the brain provide immediate nonverbal feedback easily adapt and reflect an individual’s abilities tap the emotions in memory structure time in a way we understand support and encourage movement provide safety and meaning in an enjoyably repetitive context set up safety through structure effectively…

  • Good News

    Part 2: The Importance and Basis of All Learning: Attentiveness

    The picture at the beginning of this newsletter is one of my grandfather and myself as a child. This is one of my favorite pictures because it captures the quality my grandfather had that is missing in society at large today. My grandparents lived across the street from me on a farm. I voluntarily spent a lot of time there. My grandfather was probably the kindest, most everyday person that I have ever known. By that I mean he did not do anything that would ever go down in history, but in his day-to-day interactions, he paid attention. He always put others’ needs first in a way that just seemed…

  • Good News

    5 Part Series; Music Therapy, From Attentiveness to Functional Skill and Optimal Health

                                                                            PART 1: MUSIC THERAPY This week’s blog is the first part of a 5 part series, Music Therapy from attentiveness to functional skills and optimal health. I had been supervising a Music Therapy student this week and posed a question to her.  A little behavioral problem arose with an age group that she had been working with.  I was very familiar with this population and knew why the behavior occurred, but many times especially…

  • Good News

    Autism; The Key to Self Regulation and Engagement

    This week, I continued my thoughts from last week; to Support What is Given and Give Structure. Previously, I had trouble with my client “Frank”, staying engaged and wanting to leave the room. In my anxiety about this, I continually kept presenting new material to “Frank.” Last week’s blog (https://backmountainmusictherapy.com/2012/09/support-what-is-given/) presented a video clip of Frank staying and briefly engaging with the music. I know that “Frank” likes to rock or swing, but lately, he seemed to need to move on. The vestibular input had seemed to calm the existing anxiety, however, now seemed to move “Frank” to lethargy. Keeping in mind the comments “Frank’s” mother told me about recent…

  • Good News

    Support What Is Given , Then Give It Structure

    I have written on “The Importance of Giving Processing It’s Own Time” https://backmountainmusictherapy.com/2012/09/the-importance-of-giving-processing-its-own-time/ , but this week one particular example displayed a reason I had not yet considered. I have 2 severely autistic clients that are brothers. The younger “Eddie” appears to have slightly more difficulty with sensory issues. When he gets frustrated, it is very visible and unpleasant. He lets out his discomfort in a frustrated cry for help displayed in lashing out (if pushed) or non-compliant, tantruming behavior. His older brother “Frank” is just the opposite. He does not appear to have as many sensory issues, but I believe is quite aware and intuitive of what people want,…

  • Good News

    Feeding The Senses, The Key To Treasure Yet To Develop

    I had waited on this blog, unsure what to write. I had had a huge success this week. Last year, when I wrote “Don’t give Up On Speech!” (https://backmountainmusictherapy.com/2011/10/dont-give-up-on-speech/), although all the non-verbal children I had worked with had progressed from no speech to beginnings of speech, to labeling and even complete sentences, I had one exception. This week as I sang “you, you, you” and my one exception sang “oo” back to me, then sang me, me, me and had “eee” reflected back consistently, I felt relief and excitement! As this little boy next got onto the therapy ball to bounce to the music, his first sound was “ba.”…

  • Good News

    “Teach” Very Little, Listen A Lot, Then Facilitate

    This week I read two articles that made an impact on me. One was about “Deep Listening,” and the other was “Autism and the Expected-Unexpected Social Thinking Vocabulary” (http://www.autismsupportnetwork.com/news/autism-and-expected-unexpected-social-thinking-vocabulary-2782942). Earlier this week, I also had a conversation with my son, a high school senior who is taking an AP Psychology coarse. He was telling me about a discussion they had in class concerning whether any knowledge at all was innate or all learned. He began to tell me about a behavioral experiment in which the facilitator taught a baby to fear rats, a fear which the baby had not had before the experiment started. Sarcastically, I told him that the…

  • Good News

    4 Steps in Motivating Learning in Autistic Children

    I have often heard teachers or therapists’s ask the question, “what motivates her?” or “I can’t find anything that motivates him.” Well stop looking, it is found. It is usually being demonstrated when the child is left to his own devices. The answer is 1) watch, 2) listen, 3) mirror, and 4) watch again. Watch and see what the child does. Is it rocking, flicking fingers, is it clapping hands repeatedly? Whatever it is, mirror it, mirror to a simple tune which can be repeated – then watch and see what happens. Is the child looking, smiling? Although the behavior may be unusual from what a nuero-typical child does, the…

  • Good News

    The Importance Of Giving Processing It’s Own Time

    This week, as my own kids have headed back to school, I thought it might be the appropriate time to talk a little about those “aimlessly wandering” times in Therapy. The time when it seems like you, as the therapist, and the client are a standstill. As I had mentioned before, I do believe those times are quite necessary to the Therapy. Although we cannot see any outward or forward movement, we need to try to remember something usually is happening. It will help us feel better about our work and more directed if we can begin to identify what is really happening. First, I think anything in life needs…

  • Good News

    Communication

    This week I thought I would keep the writings short and give a little visual commentary. I think when it comes to the communicative abilities of music, as Victor Wooten said, “In some instances, music works better than the spoken word because it doesn’t need to be understood to be effective.” This last week I had the wonderful experience of playing for an anniversary mass. The church was filled with people, all of whom sang, even those who only knew a few others present. I have never, ever played with so many voices in my life. To ice the cake, I also played the mass with a violinist whose playing just must…

  • Good News

    11 steps in Developing Your Sensory Intuitiveness!

    Last week, I wrote about listening in order to figure out the information that either we have not been given concerning the children we work with or finding the clues that we need to progress (https://backmountainmusictherapy.com/2012/08/what-to-do-with-missing-pieces/). Someone asked me if I thought that was a skill one could develop, or if it came from years of experience in working. Like anything else, some people are much more perceptive than others. and yes, years of practicing anything makes you better. I do, however, think that there are several direct steps one can take to develop this skill. In the world of multi-tasking, deadlines, result orientation, and evidence based research, we are all looking…

  • Good News

    What To Do With Missing Pieces?

    This week, some of my work was cancelled so that I could work at a week-long camp I agreed to work at one year ago. The children at this camp were not children I knew much about personally, and did not have an opportunity to get to know individually. After writing last weeks blog about Mastering a Skill; Measurement of Progress and Actual Development (https://backmountainmusictherapy.com/2012/08/mastering-a-skill-measurement-of-progress-and-actual-development/), I realized something. I had talked about home conditions of which a teacher or therapist may not be informed. What does one do without background information? One must do the best they can AND pay attention to those “little” signs that catch our attention briefly, or…

  • Good News

    Mastering a Skill; Measurement of Progress and Actual Development

    Earlier this week, I had read an article by another Music Therapist, Kimberly Sena Moore, on being stuck in a rut in therapy ( http://www.musictherapymaven.com/stuck-in-a-rut-11-ways-to-get-your-music-therapy-mojo-back/ ). Her timing was perfect with this article. This had not been a glorious therapy week. I had also read several articles on sensory integration therapies being valid practice or not. In combination with the ongoing Olympics, I thought this would be a good time to talk about mastery of a skill, measurement of progress, and actual development.  Our Olympic athletes certainly are an example of that: hours and hours, years and years of hard work, and look at the amazing results.  Some, like Michael Phelps, master and achieve multiple times. Some winners,…

  • Good News

    Autism; Sensory Reactive to Independence and Self Control

    Today, in two seperate sessions, three examples of my blogs happened all at once, using “stims” in learning (https://backmountainmusictherapy.com/2012/03/autistic-children-watching-for-developmental-learning-cues/): Frankie finding his voice (https://backmountainmusictherapy.com/2012/06/frankie-finds-his-voice-where-words-fail-music-speaks/), using a different rule book (https://backmountainmusictherapy.com/2012/04/the-yellow-brick-road-of-development-different-route-different-rules/), and recognizing significant development (https://backmountainmusictherapy.com/2012/04/recognizing-development-and-its-significance-in-each-individual/). It did not come in a beautifully wrapped package, but it was very significant. Today I had a session with “Frankie”. “Frankie”, a couple months ago, found his voice. He found it by taking turns playing the recorder with me. He found he was able to become vocal after using the recorder. Next, I gave him a toy microphone. He blew into it and quickly became discouraged, expecting his voice to come out. He then…

  • Good News

    Disconnect to Self Regulation, All Systems Go – Ready for Take Off!

    Sometimes children get to stages in therapy where there is no outward movement forward. However, these times are extremely important. These are times of inward movement, or processing. A therapist or teacher needs to watch the finer details in order to recognize this when it is happening. Signs to watch for include posture, facial expression, smaller, less obvious movements in time with the music, and glances. Is there a difference between the “far away” disconnected glance and a thoughtful one? This next video is an excellent example. First of all, this boy’s very calm demeanor is not his typical character portrayal. When “Eddie” came to me, he was self abusive,…

  • Good News

    Twelve lasting Effects of Music Therapy

    This year my two sons were in their freshman year of college and junior year in high school, respectively. Two boys, who chances are, may one day be household heads. You could say the dominating terms in our household at this time were (are) “college” and “job market”. I was havng a conversation with one of the boys about a friend who was planning to go to college at which, before getting a job, the friend planned to get his doctorate. The bachelor degree the friend was getting is useless on it’s own in the job market. I had suggested maybe the friend could get a slightly different four year…

  • Good News

    The Key Ingredient In Eliciting Communication and Positive Behavior

    This week I had observed something after one of my sessions that I have witnessed many times before. As I talked with a parent about her child, we talked about some of the things others may consider self-stimulatory behaviors. However, this mom was watching and trying to figure out what exactly was going on. She was not discouraged, nor spoken to as if she was from another planet. We were talking and she told me, “We’re noticing that N (the child) is really making good eye contact now and is trying to communicate with us.” Was this all Music Therapy? No, not all of it. The little boy’s behaviors were…

  • Behavioral Health

    “People Will Never Forget How You Made Them Feel”

    I have a small group of kids that I have been working with musically for several years. They all have diverse needs, strengths and diagnosis. As I met with them this week and listened to them talk, I picked up on some things that they said. As I looked back over the years together, the quote by Maya Angelou came to mind; “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I took a look at how these kids have grown over the years, how they have learned what their strengths are, and how to use them…

  • Good News

    Autism and Therapies; “Custom Fit ” versus “One Size Fits All”

    I personally have difficulty using behavioral therapies as the “proven” therapies to use for a child who does not have a behavioral problem but rather has a neurological one. I recently saw a video put out by Dr. John Carpente of Molloy College on DIR Floortime and “Play”. Check out this DIR/Floortime Research…thanks Carol Ann LoPinto Blank for sharing this…http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/TV_Shows/The_National/1233408557/ID=2220343281. “… it is a response given(by an autistic child) because they want to, not because they have been conditioned to.” It seems to me that the “symptoms” of autism have been placed under the “behavioral” category. So instead of treating the difficulty, helping to repave or connect new neural pathways that may not have developed…

  • Good News

    Frankie Finds His Voice; “Where Words Fail, Music Speaks”

    I had a very exciting session with a non-verbal client this week. He demonstrated to me that he was consciously beginning to learn how to use his voice when he wanted. After last week’s blog about signs of speech, I thought a depiction of this would be appropriate. Frankie is an eight year old non-verbal autistic child. I had worked with Frankie for about two months when he was five. In that time, we were able to demonstrate that Frankie understood what was said to him and could respond appropriately on his own without speech. We used his stims of turning the lights on and off and opening and closing the door. We took…

  • Good News

    7 Signs That Demonstrate Speech Is Possible

        I recently worked with a couple of non-verbal autistic boys who were having wonderful sessions. The very next day I ran across an article online by Margaret A Fish, MS,CCC-SLP. The article was entitled Development In Children With Severe Childhood Apraxia Of Speech – www.pediastaff.com. Later that day, a mother of a Downs Syndrome son (who had speech but had lost it) asked the question many parents ask, “Is it too late, will he ever speak again?” I knew it was possible by a couple of things she told me. I thought I would share some things I hear that let me know not only is speech possible…

  • Good News

    The Balance Between Structure and Play and it’s Long Lasting Results

    This week as I was working with a group of emotionally disturbed adolescents, I was amazed to watch this group of boys, who seemingly easily set each other off, eagerly choose instruments and begin to work together. None of these boys have any musical training, but as they chose their instruments I began a very loosely structured “rainstorm”. The boys quickly listened to one another, allowed a leader to emerge, established a beat and structure. They listened to one boy who used a repetitive ostinato on the keyboard, gave it a visual label,”That sounds like monkeys” and they all tried to compliment the label he created. Soon after another label emerged from…

  • Good News

    The 3 Ingredients In Gaining Speech: Movement, Motivate, Music

    This week a private, non-verbal client walked out of my Music Therapy room and told his mother, “Ready”. The TSS worker of another non-verbal autistic client told me the most words her client speaks come out (pop out words) during his Occupational Therapy sessions. When do you feel most alert? When are you most motivated to get things done? Other than food, what are most social events structured with? What do all these scenarios share in common? Three simple things, movement, motivate with emotion and structure with music. Do you not feel most alert after a good exercise routine? What gives most people energy to get things done, extreme emotion…

  • Good News

    Alternate Sources for Autism – No Hoops To Jump Through

    I have written numerous times about using “stim” behaviors in autistic children as learning tools. However this blog is referring to having a Music Therapy Practice in an area where Music Therapy appears to be a new concept. I recently attended an IEP meeting where it was suggested that if the parents were interested in music for their child, maybe they should look for a Suzuki or Kindermusic class. Currently in North East Pa, many qualified teachers with seemingly secure jobs are loosing them due to funding cuts. Schools are closing and being combined. Anyone dealing with special needs can talk about the loss of funding and/or services extensively. After a couple of days of diversion, I came…

  • Good News

    The “Yellow Brick Road” of Development; Different Route, Different Rules

    The “Yellow Brick Road” was a familiar phrase that was a treat to watch for my brother and I growing up. Essentially,  Dorthy needed to and wanted to go home. She ended up in an unfamiliar, unpredictable place and apparently ,the “Yellow Brick Road” wouldn’t get her directly home, but it would get her to someone that could tell her the way. Along the way, she meets companions, not people, but typical personalities in a-typical bodies who accompany her. In the end, Dorthy’s  trip home is just a dream, and as we know, although dreams originate within us, they take an unpredictable, a-typical route of their own. I like this…

  • Good News

    Beautiful Music, Is It What You Think?

    Process versus product. Generally when I give an introductory talk about Music Therapy, I begin by making the comparisons between Music for Leisure, Music Education, and Music Therapy. Music for Leisure is a passive type of music which I am going to leave alone today. Music Education and Music Therapy are active processes and very different from one another. Music Education is mainly concerned with the product. How does the product (music) look, sound, and is it done correctly? Music Therapy is not concerned about a product, but rather a person and the process that they are going through, where is the person headed, what are they going through and/or…

  • Good News

    Recognizing Development and it’s Significance in Each Individual.

    This weekly blog is about change, development, and growth and recognizing them.  Not only recognizing them, but attending to their significance in each individual. Sometimes when working with special needs children, most specifically in this case children on the spectrum, there comes a point in which growth appears to have come to a stand still, and work with the child seems to feel like blind wandering, leaving the dedicated professional to wonder if he/she know what he/she is doing. The bothered therapist will have to search, and think:  What do I do now?  What should I be doing? This week while working with Derick, a nonverbal, autistic seven year old…

  • Good News

    “Rock Around the Clock” Elicits First Word

         Click here to hear Charles’s Song: Charles Song( Next click; ste-002) Little Charles likes to leave me a gift before every holiday. He always does something unexpected, yet highly needed the last session before each holiday. This last session before Easter break, non-verbal Charles said his first word while climbing the stairs -“up”. Charles began Music Therapy in October 2011. Charles, a three year old non-verbal client initially demonstrated very, very little fine and gross motor strength, and few cognitive abilities. Soon after beginning music therapy, Charles began to blossom. When he entered Music Therapy, it took both of his delicate hands to depress a single piano key and still not elicit a sound from the…

  • Good News

    Musically Structuring Responses and “Stims”

    This week I thought I would show a video of one of the previously mentioned children that had “pop out words” and how we arrived there.  As I began working with Jay, I worked toward attending, giving eye contact to the therapist when addressed, playing instruments or moving to the music and also giggling or vocalizing to the music.  Each goal encouraged responsiveness and each goal encouraged and supported one another.  The attending to the therapist encouraged the joint activity to the attending to the music and to the therapist.  Jay re-actively would move some and play instruments some to the music.  The more he played, moved and attended, the…

  • Good News

    Impulse Control and Transitioning

    This week I ended up having two small groups of higher functioning four year old children with autism diagnosis. As I began the session and watched each group member, I quickly readjusted my plan. I knew exactly what  we were going to work on and how to work on skills such as sharing, taking turns, transitioning and impulse control. This was going to happen in one short, repeated, quick moving activity. Each individual child in these groups needed this for one reason or another. In the am group, my only little girl who does terrific in Music Therapy needs to work on patience. There is a little boy who cries every time…

  • Good News

    Why Music Therapy – Not Just Music?

    It recently was reported to me by three different family’s of non-verbal, autistic children with whom I work, of the commencement of “pop out words” that began (outside the Music Therapy room) as the child began Music Therapy sessions. This is the only change that each child seemed to have undergone as these words started to happen as reported to me by each family. One thing about this bothered me. I knew why I had implemented the interventions I had done with each child, but I had not purposely worked toward “pop out words” specifically. I love working with non-verbal children and this is a common occurrence, but why? How…

  • Good News

    Autistic Children; Watching for Developmental Learning Cues

    I have talked in many of my blogs on behavior being communication, stim behaviors as being useful and each person being unique, label or not. In today’s blog, I would like to show you an example of how utilizing music therapy has helped put these concepts into practice. In October 2011, I acquired a four year old , non-verbal, autistic little girl. I will call her Emily. Emily came into Music Therapy for the first time squealing  with delight at all that was happening. The very first session, several pop out words were elicited. This is what her IEP (written five months earlier ) stated: “Emily was seen for a complete speech/language evaluation. She is non-verbal and…

  • Good News

    Beyond the Diagnosis, Beyond the Shoes

    I had to send this out today. As I was finishing sending my last newsletter out, my daughter was in the room talking to me about school. She read to me this essay she wrote . She chose a subject she enjoys and it seemed to link to my last newsletter very well. (She had no knowledge of what I was writing about.) ” SHOES” ” A symbol that I can relate to is a pair of shoes. A pair of shoes are placed on a pair of feet and walk through ice, hot sand, soft grass, and rocky gravel just as one’s life has difficult places and hardships and…

  • Good News

    Can We See the Child Beyond the Diagnosis?

    What is beyond the diagnosis? All that lingo; Developmental Delay, Self stimulatory Behaviors, Communication Delay, Echoic Speech, Sensory Processing Disorder, what lies beyond that? Who really are these children? When a new child walk into a classroom, a good teacher of course, wants to be as well equipped as possible. If records, or IEP’s are available, a good teacher reads those before meeting the child, to know some of what to expect. However, does the label sometimes, often, tell us who these kids are? Do our expectations of the label limit these kids? I think, very often, that happens. I have witnessed situations where one professional thought a child had autism, there was talk…

  • Good News

    Solveable “Choice Stopper” Techniques In Helping Kids To Choose Well

    So you read the last blog and it did not work out quite that easy? Did your child waffle, refuse to choose, take forever choosing, or keep changing his/her mind? Or were you in a classroom situation where the child had figured it out and is consistently choosing the lesser choice to get out of something they very much need? Here are some next steps for children who execute “choice stoppers.” CHOICE STOPPER #1; Asking a gazillion questions to help them choose. Don’t let a small child behave smarter than you. Once this technique is fairly obvious to you, state the choices. If the child continues to question, you continue…

  • Behavioral Health

    Three Simple steps to Guide Your Child to Choose Healthy Behavior Independently

            I don’t know how it got started, but my 18 year old was saying, “Yea, I really like it when you start out saying,” “I’ll tell you what,” like it is the deal of the century. “Then you end it with a choice of cleaning my room or cleaning the bathroom.” I had to laugh because I do this kind of thing purposefully, and often with children I am working with (Not suggesting they clean the bathroom). I guess I didn’t realize how automatically, often ,I do it with my own kids. Now what I am talking about is giving what I call “guided choices.” Here…

  • Good News

    4 Steps in Turning Repetitive Behaviors into Functional/Playful Learning

    It is part of who we all are – we need to play and have fun. Can even laborious tasks be turned into something not only useful, but healthy and enjoyable? Take a look at this study; Play can change our perspective, give life a structure we want to do.  Each individual is different. Each individual client communicates through his or her own behavior how they learn, what his/her strengths are, what his/her needs are moment to moment as a clue for YOU, therapist, teacher or parent on how to meet that . The best part is that it requires very little from you other than careful attention and the…

  • Good News

    How To Nuture Developmental Progress That Your Child Will Love

    Sometimes kids need a little nudge, and then sometimes they just need to let go and have fun – that’s when it all comes together! These recent weeks I have seen, or heard about, unusual behaviors from two of my autistic clients. Apparently, once again demonstrating the quote “All behavior is communication.” Both children, a four year old little girls and a seven year old boy were both non-verbal previous to Music Therapy. Both children have been working on expanding their language. The little girl is self motivated, she loves to keep trying until she gets the word, then tries it again. Every week she comes in the music therapy…

  • Good News

    Secrets of Repetitive Behaviors and Organized People

    Sometimes when kids have had an “out of the cave” moment, they need to go back to something familiar, to feel safe, know where they are in life before moving on.  Sometimes we become agitated or concerned (as parents, teachers or therapists) that a child is regressing, however we all do that sort of thing and it is OK. Before any growth can occur, a child first and foremost needs to feel safe. Even new college freshmen often go back to high school for the first break or homecoming game to see old friends, old teachers. Rarely do you see them again in that school after the (college) freshmen year.…

  • Good News

    “Life is not a Race”

    One of my childrens teachers handed this out the night when we met the teachers. I just loved this and thought I would share it: “Life is not a race – but indeed a journey. Be honest. Work hard. Be choosy. Say “thank you,” and “great job” to someone each day. Take time for reflection and meditation. Let your handshake mean more then pen and paper. Love your life and what you’ve been given. It is not accidental – search for your purpose and do it best you can. Dreaming does matter. It allows you to become that which you aspire to be. Laugh often. Appreciate the little things in…

  • Good News

    The Shocking Truth About Crying: Autism and “Out of the Cave,” Moments

    The shocking truth about crying is that sometimes it is a spring board towards growth. Upon bringing a non-verbal  child to his father at the conclusion of his session, the father asked me “What happened, why is he crying?” Unfortunately, when children are non-verbal we don’t always know they are crying. However, as I have said in previous blogs, all behavior communicates something. At the very least, crying communicates some sort of discomfort. Sometimes in therapy this is not always a bad thing. Crying may actually be the beginning of some kind of growth. I usually compare this to being trapped in a dark cave for a long time and…

  • Behavioral Health,  Good News

    Sensory Integration – Meeting the Need

    Symptoms of autism, hand flapping, unusual sounds, toe walking are just some of them. What are they all about and what are we to do about them? I must once again refer to my previous blogging quote by Temple Grandin,”All behavior springs from a reason, and all behavior is communication.” What are we to do with these behaviors? The answer; feed them. I could not wait until Friday to write this blog, I had to do it while my last session of the day was fresh in my mind, here’s the story. I have been working with an autistic boy for about three years now. At the time we began,…

  • Behavioral Health,  Good News

    Treatment of Autism

    In the treatment of autism,or really, the progress of any individual, there is something we all must remember. Progress is never a direct line forward. Specifically with autism, there must always be a careful watch on our own expectations of progress. We must always remember the individual and realize we need to see progress as it is and not always what we expect it to be. I’m going to re-use Temple Grandin’s quote from a previous blog,”All behavior springs from a reason, and all behavior is communication.” Yesterday I had a student observe to see if this is what she wants to do with her life. All went well until…

  • Good News

    4 Musical Methods that are Helping Moms Have Great Days

    Here is a great article a fellow Music Therapist has on her sight. I thought I would share this and give recognition to another valuable site! 4 Musical Methods that are Helping Moms Have Great Days There are moms out there who are averting meltdowns today! There are moms out there who are watching their child learn skills and enjoy doing it! These tips below are designed to help you experience the great days that those moms are having! One of the wonderful things about music is that is travels. You can have CDs, MP3 players, small instruments, and your voice! An excellent way to help music travel is to use it throughout your…

  • Good News

    Don’t give up on Speech!

    The Best of Both Worlds Share your inspiring, hopeful story of how autism touched you. Read more stories! The Best of Both Worlds “If you’ve seen one child with autism, you’ve seen one child with autism.” As a parent of two on the spectrum, I could not agree with this more. There is a certain loss that often feels irretrievable when first faced with a diagnosis. Shortly after being given two diagnoses back to back, I came to realization that I was given the opportunity to understand an enigma and parent in an extraordinary way. The challenges I faced at the beginning of this journey for both of my boys…

  • Behavioral Health

    Self Regulation, Music Therapy and an Autistic Child?

      Imagine living in a body where nothing is predictable.  Day and night come and go without much recognition or seem to be an unidentifiable background seen which is barely noticeable.  The world that is seen, heard and or felt is so unpredictable and uncontrolled that soiling oneself goes completely unnoticed.  What must it be like to live in a world like this?  How can one break through to a person who stares off in space because everything coming in is so erratic, unpredictable and disorganized that there is no one single thing to notice.  All one can do is stand still and hope it’s ok.  Stand still and wave…

  • Good News

    Autistic Individuals and community

        Imagine a group of individuals coming together, some flapping their arms, others chaotically running back and forth, and yet others screaming. All of them together in one room. No-one  in the group acknowledging that any other individual exists besides themselves.      Suddenly,  someone who appears to look like a telephone operator  walks into the room.  She eyes each individual  and takes notice of what each and every person is doing. The telephone operator does her job.  She knows what connections to put into which sockets.  Only, she doesn’t use a switchboard, she uses a piano.  her fingers begin to dance at the piano as she sings to each…

  • Behavioral Health

    Behavioral Health

    “All Behavior springs from a reason, and all behavior is communication,” Temple Grandin Phd.  I ran across this quote in the book Insights into Sensory Issues for Professionals by Kathleen Morris. I love this quote, not only for the autistic community,  but also for children in general.  Firstly, I  have found when an autistic child comes in clapping his hands and I put music to this we can do something with this .  One case in particular it became the starting point for not only communication but also verbalization.  The question then is , what purpose does this action or behavior serve for this individual? What need is it meeting?  What sensory issue is it attempting…

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