3 Ways Music Therapy Will Benefit Your Non-Verbal Child


Making people more aware of the music therapy profession is a big part of my work as a music therapist. Today I'm talking about how music therapy will benefit your non-verbal child. In my work at The Sonatina Center, I have worked with many non-verbal children, some who learn to verbally communicate and some who learn to communicate in other ways. All of these children have benefited from their experience with a music therapist.  


Self-expression is incredibly important to our overall health and well-being. The ability to express who we are, what we love, what we need and how we feel is central to our emotional and mental health. Music is a language of it's own and music therapists often facilitate music improvisation to help their clients express emotions non-verbally. Music can mirror our emotions. It can convey happiness, anger, fear, and sadness. Music can also tell stories about our life experiences. The music can be smooth and flowing, or it can be abrupt and jarring. When improvising, clients can control  the elements of the music they are creating and explore different ways of expressing themselves musically. Clients can also choose how much they share which provides them with a sense of control over their self-expression. A music therapist can musically support a client who is expressing themselves or working through a difficult emotion. Music therapists use a variety of techniques to support a client during music improvisation including musically mirroring, responding, questioning, and commenting. All expressions can happen in the exchange of music creation, in the supportive music therapy environment and often without the need for any words. 


As soon as two people begin creating music together, it becomes a social experience. Consciously or unconsciously, the music created by one individual is influenced by the other individual or individuals.  Non-verbal children can connect with family members and peers when they make music together. Relationships can develop and flourish in both the 1:1 and group music therapy setting. Musical conversations can occur and social concepts such as turn taking, listening, and reflecting can all happen non-verbally. Music therapy can also offer non-verbal children opportunities to develop leadership skills. For example, a non-verbal child can use body movement to conduct a group of peers playing instruments. Other social skills such as developing empathy, tolerating differences, and recognizing similarities can also be addressed in music therapy. 


Research tells us that not only is music processed in several different areas of our brains, but that music also enhances and optimizes our brains, providing better performance during a variety of experiences. (Check out this amazing interactive map of the brain by our colleagues at Neurorhythm Music Therapy Services.) When it comes to speech and language development, music can help create neural connections for individuals who are struggling with this form of communication. It is not uncommon for and individual to have an inability to speak but an ability to sing. Music also mimics speech in it's rhythm, pitch, and melodic intonation. Music therapists can use elements of music and techniques such as vocal improvisation to transition a non-verbal child from vocalizing to verbalizing. 

If you'd like to learn more about how music therapy can benefit your non-verbal child, we'd love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or contact me to schedule a free consult.