Music Therapy, Sensory Integration, and the Autistic Child

By Dorita S. Berger | Go to book overview

Preface

Music therapists have long known that entering the brain through the auditory system is a key to obtaining automatic brain attendance and response. Music's ability to stimulate the limbic system's release of emotions and moods is well documented. Until recently, music therapy goals for the autistic population were primarily concerned with encouraging [connectedness], communication, socialization, and emotional and psychological improvement. But are these goals enough to instigate permanent changes in behavior that can be generalized into other situations?

Music's potential impact on a wider range of physiologic problems is often overlooked or considered a by-product. In fact, physiologic changes resulting from music interventions can be a major factor in bringing about a feeling of well-being. The apparent inability of the autistic brain properly to encode, decode, integrate and coordinate simultaneously a plethora of sensory information appears to be at least one major cause for erratic behaviors and ill-adaptive responses. The interactive sensory systems include tactile, vestibular, proprioceptive, visual and auditory information processing. It is an area in which music interventions can have major impact in perpetuating functional adaptation.

In observing autistic and other alternative behavioral responses to given situations, it is essential to ask why the observed behaviors exist in the first place. What is happening with the [atypical] system of behavioral responses that music interventions can impact? How can a process as abstract as music order the senses to integrate and induce cenesthesia – a sense of sensory balance and physical well-being?

This book is designed for music therapists, parents, teachers and health clinicians – those who are raising, teaching and working with populations functioning in alternative ways to those that are generally considered to be [normal]. Although there may be reference throughout to [dysfunctional]

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