Our hands-on, interactive approach encourages our clients to get involved in sessions. We used a blend of movement, listening, musical improvising, and play to reach each client where they are right now. Our sessions are tailored to meet the unique sensory needs of each client, while challenging them and encouraging both musical and social engagement. We use a balanced combination of child-led vs. structured activities to suit each client's individual learning style and need for structure. Our sessions are goal-oriented, allowing us to track each client's progress and modify their program as needed.
"Music therapy with Angela is amazing. I know my daughter sees her like a best friend. Angela sings with her, plays instruments, runs, & jumps all the while working on language and social skills. My daughter has a blast. More importantly, I’m thrilled that she has made wonderful strides in her development thanks to Angela’s music therapy."
- Janelle, parent
What Is Neurologic Music Therapy?
Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) is an advanced level of music therapy based on scientific research of music and its effect on the brain. NMT is used to treat neurologically-based conditions, such as autism. The three major areas addressed through NMT are:
* Speech and Language Skills
* Sensorimotor Skills
NMT techniques are used in all of our sessions. Specific techniques we commonly use include:
* Developmental Speech and Language training through Music (DSLM)
* Rhythmic Speech Cuing (RSC)
* Musical Attention Control Training (MACT)
* Musical Executive Function Training (MEFT)
Autism Supports In Our Sessions
I've heard it said many times that "if you've met one child with autism, you've met ONE child with autism." The differences between each child we see can be night and day. We take the time to get to know each child and tailor a program that will suit their individual needs. We pay particular attention to the follow areas:
The music therapy process is just that . . . a process
So much about our culture is driven by the need to "perform". We want to perform well at work, perform well at school, and take piano lessons so we can perform well on a recital. In music therapy, this pressure to perform can actually take away from sessions. Don't get me wrong, we all want to see each child growing, developing, and progressing toward their goals. However, each child needs to do this in their own time and in their own way. With a little patience, children learn to have their own musical voice. As their musical engagement grows, so will opportunities to address many different goal areas.
Becoming a super therapy partner
I love having parents join me during sessions! Creating music together - parent, child, and therapist - is a wonderful and captivating experience. Having a parent in sessions also gives us a chance to point out little tricks we're using that you may not have otherwise noticed. This is a great way for parents to pick up ideas that they can use after they leave the session. Unfortunately, sometimes clients can be very distracted by their parent's presence. Here are some tips for making your presence in sessions a positive addition:
1. Support the client-therapist relationship
One of the most important things you can do to become a super therapy partner is to support your child's relationship with his/her therapist. During the initial stages of therapy, the therapist and child are just beginning to form a bond. This relationship can be quickly undermined by seemingly helpful things, such as constantly "rescuing" your child or frequently correcting his or her behavior. These two questions can help you determine if you're supporting or breaking down your child's relationship with the therapist:
a) Am I giving my child a chance to look to the therapist for direction, interaction, and support?
b) Am I allowing the therapist to create and define her own unique relationship and set of interactions
with my child?
2. Be a model, not an enforcer
As I noted earlier, music therapy is all about the process. This process can become very difficult or even ineffective when a parent tries to force certain behaviors or responses from their child. So what's the best thing you can do? Be a model! Get involved in the music making process. The therapist will help you to discover what to look for and how to respond to best support the therapy process.
3. Be a groove maker, not a groove killer
Imagine for a moment that you're in your car listening to your all-time favorite jam. You're belting out the lyrics, completely engrossed. All of a sudden the person in the car next to you calls out, "Wow! Great voice!". Suddenly you snap out of your "musical trance." Even though this comment was kind and encouraging, it completely shifted your focus away from your musical groove. Think about this as you join your child in sessions. Even though your child will need moments of encouragement and direction, talking can be a huge groove killer. Just relax and join the jam.
4. When to step out of sessions
While having a parent in session can have definite benefits, there can actually be drawbacks. In music therapy, as in any other type of therapy, the client-therapist relationship plays a vital role in the therapeutic process. For some children, having a parent in the room can be so distracting that this relationship doesn’t have a chance to grow. Sometimes this can be resolved simply by looking at the parent’s role in the session. For other children, the parent’s presence in and of itself is the problem. These children simply have completely different behaviors or levels of engagement just because of their parent's presence. When these situations arise, the therapist may suggest to try a session without the parent to determine if this would be therapeutically beneficial. While parents may be asked to try a session without their presence, it is always the right of the parent to remain in the session if they choose.
Structured vs. Child-Led Sessions
We have found that many of our clients respond well to a play-based, child-led approach. For these clients we use improvisational music therapy techniques, coupled with Neurologic Music Therapy concepts and approaches. These sessions allow clients to explore their own musical interests at their own speed while the therapist creates opportunities within each experience to work toward current goal areas.
For our clients that crave a more structured and predictable approach, we use strong musical routines that they can rely on from week to week. Within each routine, we build in opportunities to have variety while keeping the same structured approach. We also use visual schedules and create individualized social stories for clients that need an additional layer of predictability.
For our clients who are highly visual, we have a variety of visual supports. This includes visual schedules, visually supported language tasks, and the use of a picture exchange communication system (PECS). We also use a variety of custom designed video modeling sequences to assist with the learning of new language, social, or movement tasks (see below).
Did you know that many children with autism also show signs of a Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)? In one study, 78% of children with autism showed significant signs of SPD. From our first encounter, we examine your child's responses to various stimuli. We closely monitor sensory input and look for any signs of over-stimulation from our clients during sessions. We also offer a variety of sensory experiences for our sensory seeking clients or those who just need a little extra sensory stimulation.
Video modeling is a fascinating approach that really connects with many of our clients. We at MTfA have custom designed several video modeling sequences to support communication, social skills, and motor development. In addition to being a fun way to learn new skills, there is a body of research that supports this method. Want to read more about it? Go to http://autismpdc.fpg.unc.edu/content/video-modeling
308 Clairemont Avenue, Ste S-324, Decatur, GA 30030
Call us at: (678) 664-4992
Music Therapy Sessions (individual)
Individual Music Therapy sessions are our primary service. These weekly sessions work toward individualized, non-musical goals through a variety of engaging musical activities. The process begins with an assessment, after which a treatment plan is created. Goals are addressed each week through musical interventions designed to improve non-musical skills. Goals are reviewed and updated every three months.
FREQUENTLY ADDRESSED GOAL AREAS
The goals that we address typically fall into three major categories:
1. Sensorimotor (ex: fine/gross motor skills, sensory integration, motor planning)
2. Speech and Language (ex: social communication, direction following, requesting)
3. Cognition (ex: attention, executive function, academics)
Our Introductory Session is a great starting point for most families. This low-cost thirty minute session gives you a chance to see first hand what music therapy is all about. Your child will have a chance to engage in a variety of musical activities, followed by a discussion with a Board-Certified Music Therapist.
Adaptive music lessons are similar to traditional music lessons, but are individually designed to support the learning and motor needs of each student. All lessons are taught by a certified Board-Certified Music Therapist. We offer adaptive lessons on piano, guitar, and voice. No musical experience is necessary.